The Celtic in Dubai saga feels like it’s been going on forever.
The Hoops only made the controversial trip 11 days ago. However, given the fallout and the positive test etc, it feels like it’s been dragging on for months.
Indeed, Celtic just can’t shake it off. They arrived back to a furious Scottish Government and fanbase. They then had a positive test in the camp that led to a total of 15 others needing to self-isolate because he also went to Dubai. All that came before more dropped points against Hibs on Monday night.
Celtic need to move on from Dubai or at least start putting the building blocks in place to do so. For me, there are only three ways to do this, and here they are:
1. Send out a heartfelt apology to Celtic supporters, Hibernian, and the Scottish public
This is the quickest way to really try to put Dubai behind them.
One of the most infuriating parts of this saga is Celtic’s lack of regret. They haven’t apologised to anyone for making the journey to the UAE. Despite the fact they owe several parties one.
The Celtic fans first and foremost. They’ve been told to believe that Dubai was going to inspire our second-half charge to the title. Yet, due to the ridiculousness of going in the first place, it’s had a knock-on effect that’s actually in turn ended our league charge.
Hibernian have been another club affected by all of this. Celtic’s Monday night opponents have been furious with how all this has panned out. They also had a friendly scheduled with Celtic on Tuesday that would’ve been key for their youngsters and reserve players. That reportedly had to be cancelled.
And a wider apology to the Scottish public for going to Dubai whilst restrictions everywhere else tightens would be ideal. It would certainly put the club in a more forgiving light. At the very least, it should show Celtic have acknowledged they were in the wrong.
Doing all of that would go a long way to calming some of the controversy surrounding Dubai, and would eventually kill the criticism off for good.
2. Give supporters a January window they deserve
Neil Lennon has tried to claim that this January won’t be a busy one. Indeed, reports have already gone out stating that he wants a centre-back and a right-winger (Scottish Sun). That’ll do apparently.
Well, that would’ve been okay had Celtic been ahead in the title race and not suffering any controversy. Instead, they’re as disconnected from supporters as they ever have been since the 90s. They need to do something to get them back onside. January gives them an opportunity to do that.
Another right-winger and centre-back is essential. However, there’s no reason to stop there. Celtic could also do with another top class left-winger to give Diego Laxalt some support. Too often is the Uruguayan flying down the left side on his own and having to cut inside. We need another direct winger there who can get to the byline and make things happen.
In addition to that, the goalkeeping position needs sorted out. Lennon has stuck by Vasilis Barkas but it’s yet to reap any rewards. The Celtic support would be a lot more comfortable with a fresh face coming in the door, and preferable an experienced one at that.
To top it off, ensuring that they don’t cash in on any of our bigger stars remains important. The last thing they need to do is sell Odsonne Edouard or Kris Ajer to rake in a bigger fee for him. Just because the league appears to be over doesn’t mean we ever go surrendering it off the pitch.
Celtic tried to impress in the summer with some big-money deals that haven’t worked out. It’s time to invest again and try to beef up the quality in several positions.
3. A well overdue prolonged winning run
Celtic appeared to get some of their confidence back at the end of 2020. Operating in a new diamond formation with a fresh and vibrant midfield, the Hoops won six in a row. Calls for Neil Lennon’s sacking had toned down as we tried to revert our focus back to gaining ground on Rangers.
It was halted in its path by a dominant yet losing performance to our Ibrox foes. We still looked like we had a good platform before Dubai came in and decimated the squad. Monday’s 1-1 draw with Hibernian was a real momentum-killer.
This is the longest way for Celtic to kill off the Dubai controversy, but it can still be done. We know how football works. Winning is the perfect medication for any disease at any football club. If Celtic, for example, were to go on a 10-game winning run, many positive comments would be coming their way once again.
Celtic haven’t managed to gain a blistering run of momentum all season. Between August and October we managed to string together eight consecutive league wins. It was a decent run at the time and we went into the first derby of the season with some confidence before Covid again struck our squad. Since then, we’ve offered nothing to the title chase.
Winning solves everything in football. It’s no surprise that controversy has surrounded Celtic when they’ve been failing to do so. Hopefully, a winning run happens regardless of the club’s off-field tactics.