It wasn’t so long ago that Celtic were doing well to win any more than two or three games in a row, when we had some terrible players and some equally bad managers with some pretty low attendances.
Back then, I think it would be safe to say that our team was rubbish.
When we have just completed a successful European campaign, you might wonder why I’m reminding you of some of our older and not so good teams.
The reason for this is that I have read a lot of criticism directed at Neil Lennon and the team this season. I am not saying that the team have been performing well and that I am not unhappy with some of the performances but I do think some of the criticism has been way over the top.
When the team wins and performs well, we praise Neil Lennon so it’s inevitable that he will be criticised when we are not doing so well.
Perhaps what he said after the Ross County game is true. That some players have their mind elsewhere. If that’s the case then I think it’s impossible to have a go at the management,
Yes, the management team sign the players but if a player agrees to a deal and then decides that they don’t fancy it any more and stops performing to the top of their game there isn’t very much the gaffer can do. Due to the restrictions of the transfer window, you are pretty much stuck with what you have.
The obvious counter argument would be that it’s up to the manager to ensure the players do perform but the players must have to share the responsibility too.
Another possibility would be to drop the under achieving players and replace them with youngsters. However, a regular criticism is that we change the starting 11 too often.
I don’t normally like to criticise individuals but I feel that there’s a few who are not doing what they should be doing. For example Charlie Mulgrew was last season’s PFA Player of the Year. He played most of his football at centre half last year yet this year has rarely featured in that position.
Is that a fault of his or is that the managers problem? I’ve mainly picked out Charlie because I feel the ‘spine’ of the team should stay the same. Over the years, a strong team tends to half a recognised centre half pairing along with a centre mid and centre forward player.
I don’t understand why last years player of the year isn’t playing in the same position. Another I cannot understand being picked is Thomas Rogne. Since joining, he has never been a top performer, has had ongoing injury problems and has recently rejected a contract extension.
Moving to the middle of the pitch, why oh why do we have so many changes in the centre midfield position? We can have Victor Wanyama, Beram Kayal, Scott Brown, Joe Ledley, Kris Commons, Dylan McGeough, Tomas Rogic, Filip Twardzik or Paddy McCourt.
At times, I wonder if the management know what the best mid field combination is. For me, the two centre mid players would always be Wanyama and Ledley. Both can defend, chip in with a few goals and both are decent in the tackle and have a good reading of the game.
Next year, it’s highly likely that we wont have Wanyama so we give Kayal the chance to get back to his first seasons level of performance or look at a new player coming in.
As well as Wanyama, Fraser Forster and Gary Hooper are two others that are expected to move on. Again, who do we replace them with? Is Lucasz Zaluska able to be a first choice keeper, perhaps but given the lack of football he’s played since joining Celtic, it may take a while to get him back to being sharp enough for a regular game.
Do some of these guys earn too much to drop them or does the management not think the alternatives are any better? If not, then why not? Why haven’t inferior players been moved on?
Years ago, I was lucky enough to bump into Billy Stark outside Celtic park, when I asked about a player who was in as a trialist, Billy told me we were not signing him because he was no better than what we already had.
A very simple and obvious statement but it does ask the question why do we keep or bring in players who are not as good as the team who regularly start games.
As well as the three mentioned that we expect to loose, I would say a few more should be sold.
As much as I do like Mikel Lustig, I feel that his injury record is not good enough to bother keeping him at the club. Would anyone sign him and could we get a better replacement?
We also hear about “one season wonders”. For me, Kayal and Commons both fall into this category. When Kayal signed his last contract extension, I read that he refused to travel to Tynecastle with the squad until the contract was sorted out. I don’t know if that’s true but if it is, then he should have never been allowed through the front door of Celtic Park again.
Commons scored 20 goals between January and the end of his first season. In close to two seasons since then, he hasn’t scored as many games. Does he create enough to merit his wages at Celtic Park?
Or should we take some money and perhaps get a more effective player to replace him in the squad ?
Moving to the forwards, it’s a position that I feel we badly need to improve on. After Hooper, who has been hopeless since January and is likely to leave, we really only have Anthony Stokes who can be described as a regular scorer.
It’s safe to say with the policy now adopted at the club, we are in for a very busy summer. More so if we are going to have to play a Champions League qualifier in July. On an unrelated note to the squad, I think a club who gets to the last 16 and or is the champions of their league should never be asked to play a qualifier but that’s another blog for another day.
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