And so this is Christmas, and what have you done?
Well, if you’re a Celtic fan, you’ve enjoyed a very strange year, albeit a very successful one. With the Premiership called to a halt in March due to Covid-19, Celtic secured a famous 9-in-a-row.
We’re on the precipice of winning a Quadruple Treble at the time of writing, but with no fans in Hampden to watch Scott Brown lift the Cup. We’ve got amazing new kits from Adidas, but fans protesting by the club shop. All in all, it’s been strange.
We have, however, managed to avoid losing our best players, and there’s still a very strong chance of a historic 10th consecutive title.
Here’s what we learned in 2020.
The Celtic fans have more power than they think
We’ve been criticised from all corners this year. When the Premiership was waylaid by a global pandemic, there were calls that our title was tainted.
When the club started to falter in October, fan unrest grew to a boiling point. We were called “spoilt” and “entitled” because we knew these players were better than they were showing. Neil Lennon, always a short-term option, quite rightly saw immense pressure being put on his shoulders. It got grim.
There were some ugly scenes out Celtic Park that shouldn’t be repeated any time soon, but through the chaos, hope has emerged. The point of no return has been reached between the fans and the board, and looking ahead, that could be a good thing. Celtic fans united cannot be defeated, and in that spirit, the Celtic Trust have shown that fan ownership isn’t a ridiculous idea.
Away from footballing matters, the club’s supporters have raised money for a number of fantastic causes. The Green Brigade had to move their Food bank collection online (Glasgow Times), while supporters raised money through the club’s Football For Good Fund.
Even during a dismal year for everybody, Celtic fans have made their voices heard while raising vast sums for charity. Together, we’re a huge collective and everyone has done their bit.
We’re getting better at keeping our best players
It was a genuine surprise that Odsonne Edouard wasn’t snatched in the summer. Say what you like about his form this season, but our talismanic striker is a wanted man.
He was linked to Manchester United (United in Focus), Leicester City (Leicester Mercury) and Arsenal (TalkSport), but Celtic held firm. Having lost Virgil van Dijk, Victor Wanyama, Stuart Armstrong and Kieran Tierney to the Premier League, the feelings were familiar all calendar year.
Yet, as I type this, French Eddy is still a Celtic player.
While Celtic run the risk of alienating the squad in the event of a transfer request or a stunted move, it does show some kernel of long-term planning at the club. Finally, Peter Lawwell and co. realise the value of our players and know that money is there to be made later on.
We have a deep, promising squad
It took far too long to notice this, but it happened eventually.
After a run of form that would bring even the most optimistic Celtic fan to ennui, Neil Lennon experimented against Lille. By God, it worked.
From out the shadows came Ismaila Soro and David Turnbull. Ewan Henderson made himself known on a big stage. We have Cameron Harper, Kerr McInroy and (hopefully) Karamoko Dembelé waiting in the wings.
Equally, our Colts side romped to victories in the Glasgow Cup, with the likes of Owen Moffat, Luca Connel and Ewan Otoo impressing along the way.
For the first time in a while, there is an entire core of promising youngster coming through. With some tread on the tyres in our first team, we should be excited about the next crop of Celtic players. Provided, that is, Bayern München and Manchester City stop nicking them.
Rangers, unfortunately, mean business this time
There have been a few false dawns across the Clyde over the last couple of years.
Two 2-0 defeats to the Gers, however, have put our rivals’ progress into sharp focus. There was the first warning shot in May 2019 (Sky Sports), then the awful, uninspired Celtic display at home this October (BBC).
For the first time since 2012, Gerrard’s side look decent. Their defending has been resolute, their goals have come from all over the team. It’s disgusting.
Albeit with games in hand, Rangers have a comfortable lead at the top of the Premiership. Victories against Rangers are no longer luxury items; they’re necessities.