For Celtic supporters, it might feel like everything’s bleak at the moment.
We don’t need to do any kind of deep dive, here. We’re all well aware of why and how everything went wrong. It was meant to be historic. Even some progression in Europe wasn’t an unrealistic thing to hope for after the Europa League performances of 19-20.
To an extent, it was all in the post. A huge number of Celtic supporters saw the cracks in the façade a few years back. We were a few injuries from being beatable, our team lacked any sort of tactical identity. And with fans unable to attend matches, the only ways to truly be heard were at least a little clandestine.
Next season is a different prospect entirely. In the words of Orange Juice, the club have to rip it up and start again. Our CEO, our manager and our captain are either leaving, or have left. We’re getting closer to total Covid vaccination roll-out. For the first time in a decade, we’re not starting the season as champions.
There’s reason to believe this could be the most exciting season in quite a while. Let’s explore how.
Celtic supporters will be back
We don’t know precisely when, yet, but surely we can’t be far from returning to Paradise.
The anticipation in the morning, the nervy breakfast through to pre-match pints, the walk or bus ride to Celtic Park, getting through the turnstiles and feeling that tension in your stomach when the Bhoys emerge from the tunnel. All of it is within reach.
There’s nothing quite like it. Certainly, the feeling of watching from a distance has been alienating and it’s probably made a difficult season feel much worse. The euphoria of victory, or the catharsis of having a moan after a bad result. The Gallowgate, the songs, the scarves, all of it.
Nothing replicates a match day. By the time we can get back into Celtic Park, we’ll have gone over a year without. God knows we’ll savour every second of it.
A new manager
Celtic will have a new boss by the time next season rolls around.
We’re not going to name names, but some very big names and exciting coaches have been attached to the club. Even well before Lennon left, there was a sense of inevitability that things would soon be different.
We don’t know if it’ll be good different or bad different, as of yet. For all directors and supporters alike will talk of patience, any incoming manager knows their remit: winning matches. Whoever a Celtic manager is, in whatever era, they know they have to hit the ground running.
There’s trepidation, certainly, and there will be until a few games have passed. However, it’s unquestionably exciting.
Celtic supporters will have new heroes
It could take longer than one transfer window, but the rebuild is on. Beginning with the signing of Liam Shaw [BBC] and exploding into life with Broony’s announcement this week [Celtic FC], the arduous task of redesigning the Celtic squad is well and truly underway.
When was the last time we saw anything this seismic in terms of turnover? When Brendan Rodgers arrived in 2016, perhaps? Regardless, the Celtic supporters will have new heroes, and we’ll get the excitement of welcoming brand new names to the pantheon of Bhoys players.
It’s always tantalising to see a new player. I remember going to watch Jeremy Toljan’s debut, even, and the pre-match chat was all about it. It doesn’t necessarily matter who, the feeling of freshness and opportunity is a massive part of what attracts us to football.
In the other direction, we’ll no longer roar for Scott Brown when the teams are announced before kick-off. It’ll be very, very unsettling at first.
But the game moves in cycles. That’s something we should embrace.
Knocking our rivals off their perch
Winning league titles is always sweet. Winning titles back? That’s something quite different.
Don’t get me wrong, here, I’m not celebrating the fact we didn’t win the title. Not in the slightest; it was utter negligence and complacency on the part of Celtic’s decision makers. A catastrophic failure.
What I am saying, though, is that knocking Gerrard’s Rangers off their perch next season will be incredibly sweet. Provided the board puts the required investment into the staff and squad, and we have the right people in place, there’s no reason to believe we can’t wrestle the title north of the Clyde.
Given that almost all football discourse has been on social media, you’ll have seen plenty of gloating, horrendous photoshops and the same arguments being replayed over and over on the timeline. It was already tedious, and now it’s beyond stale.
New stories will be written. We can’t wait.