Will Celtic Win The League?
Celtic have won 8 domestic championships in a row, a fantastic achievement, but we’ve been here before many years ago when we won 9 championships back from the season beginning in 1965 and that ending in 1974.
Our greatest historic rival Rangers were close in some of those years, closest in season 1972-3 where they lost the league by a single point.
But of course, that was then when the league had teams like East Fife who have faded or even Rangers who went into administration in 2012 and are currently in the liquidation process.
New Rangers .. Yes the company is the club .. started in the 4th division of Scottish football and have made their way slowly back to the top division, stumbling to gain access to the premier league after being humbled 6-1 by Motherwell in the play-offs over 2 games.
How we laughed .. at their pain .. of course we did .. that’s what rivals do in any context.
It’s their superiority complex, their hubris and expectation that they will succeed that makes them vulnerable .. then seeing them fail.
Beating the part-timers of the lower leagues was easy with their superior resources and full-time professional players against guys who were working part-time in other jobs to earn a living.
Rangers reached the premiership in season 2016-7 were they finished 3rd behind second place Aberdeen by 9 points and huge 39 points being champions Celtic who finished with a massive 106 points and not losing a game in their incredible “invincibles” season.
Before that season started, I blogged about it, their expectation was high but there was no contest. The bookies knew it. I knew it. Anyone with half a brain and not wearing blue-tinted spectacles knew it.
However .. and I hate to say it .. I hate to have any association with that “Rangers Are Coming” strap-line that their poisonous club are using to get their fans on side and sell season tickets.
But the reality is Rangers have spent massively over the past few seasons and have improved winning 67,70 and 78 in the past 3 seasons.
In that same time, Celtic have lost momentum and dropped from their highest point of 106 points to a meagre 82 and a slight improvement to 87. But don’t let that fool you, many of last seasons performances were dire lack-lustre games both with Brendan Rodgers and Neil Lennon as a manager including getting beat at Ibrox by Rangers on 2 occasions.
Anyone who thinks that Rangers are not making a serious attempt to provide a challenge and win the league is deluding themselves. In my opinion Rangers are spending money they don’t have and will throw all resources they have at stopping Celtic winning the league 9 times in a row this season.
But are they good enough?
Last season was close but no cigar, bringing in good young players eg Kent and more experienced heads Defoe and Davis. They improved but not enough.
This year, they continue to bring in lots of new faces, but no-one of real known quantity.
Celtic by comparison have failed to launch even although they have easily won their first 2 games of this years season against Motherwell and St Johnstone. They have failed to reach the UEFA Champions League play-offs failing to beat Cluj of Romania.
Failing to reach the group stage of the Champions League is the measure that Celtic should be judged by. It’s the biggest money earner of the season and is effectively our cup-final. Failing to reach the group stages is an indication of everything wrong at the club and the lack of coherence between the team management and the board.
Among the new players that Celtic signed defenders Julien for £7m and Bolingoli for £3m .. The cost of both of these players outstrips anything that the opposition in Scotland can muster. Yet against Cluj both of these players remained on the bench with in my opinion Celtic best midfielder Calum McGregor playing at left back.
What is that all about?
Did we learn nothing from the defeats against Rangers last season were McGregor played at left back on both occasions. He is a talented player but isn’t a left back and we weaken the midfield were Calum is known for forward passes and supporting runs and has scored many goals from that position.
It’s rumoured that the manager Neil Lennon chose not to play these new signings because he hadn’t signed them and they were not good enough in his opinion.
I don’t know if that’s true or not. But 2 expensive players not playing is indicative of mismanagement and if it is true confirmation that the CEO Peter Lawell is acting beyond his duties. Stick to the commercial deals Peter. Leave the football to the manager.
As for the manager, I like Neil Lennon, but I am uncertain of his competence. The jury is out on that one.
One thing I do know is that we have an absent major shareholder / de-facto owner Dermot Desmond who has on occasion stepped int to steer the ship in the right direction.
There needs to be a meeting to clear the air, define roles, get the cohesion back together and improve the team before this transfer window closes in 2 weeks time.
Coming back to the original question .. Will Celtic win the league?
On paper we have better resources than our rivals including Rangers, who have improved their team and seem more cohesive between team management and board.
Celtic should undoubtedly be able to spend their way out of trouble as Rangers did in the bad old days when they didn’t pay any taxes.
But Celtic don’t operate like that, CEO Lawell penny pinches on the deals and loses out on quality players because he bargains and doesn’t get it over the line, yet we sign expensive unknowns like Julien and Bolingoli from God knows where?
Lets say that I’m hopeful but more concerned than I have been over the past 3 seasons. We are going backwards and Rangers are improving. I’d hope that this transfer window would see us press ahead and sign the player to not only seal 9 in a row but get us over the line to 10 and beyond.
But I’m not 100% convinced.
I am concerned that the hubris that old Rangers showed back in the day, that expectation that they would somehow win despite their opponents improving has been transferred to us.
We have had 8 years of winning, for 5 of those years there was no realistic competition, the danger is that we have become complacent.
This is the critical time that in any competitive sport or business, when if there is risk, you counter the risk, take evasive action, invest were necessary. That’s what management does and we have 2 weeks to get the ship on a steadier course.
Looking at the betting sites, taking emotion out of it as much as possible and letting the money talk.
Prior to a ball being kicked, a bet of £100 quid on Celtic wins £44 quid and Rangers £225 quid, a win ratio of 5 times.
Now after 2 games have been played , the £100 quid bet wins £55 and £210 respectively and the win ratio has dropped to 3.8.
|Pre Season||After 2 Games|
|Team||Odds||£100 Bet||Odds||£100 Bet|
What that tells us is that Celtic are still favourites in the bookies opinion but less so than they were before the season started and much less than they were back when Rangers first joined the Scottish Premier League back in 2016 when the win ratio was 10 times more likely to win the league and they did so by a convincing 30 points over Aberdeen in second and 39 points over Rangers in third.
Returning to the original question .. Will Celtic Win The League?
The answer is that it is ours to lose.
One thing I do know is that Celtic need to get their act together and if they don’t heads need to roll, starting with the individuals culpable for any failure both on and off the field.