was who in 2002
his place as club number 1 with some wonder performances in Europe,
and a new record for least league goals conceded. His displays against
Ajax secured us a Champions League spot, and his heroic performance
against Valencia surely must silence his critics. Domestically he was
almost flawless (last minute at Pittodrie aside), the most memorable
league display being his first half at Dens in September (three certain
goals saved). It was also pleasing to see the Saltire carrying patriot
finally get a chance in a Scotland jersey.
Appeared out of the shadows every so often for no apparent reason. But
we will see him no more, as his contract expires and he sails off into
the sunset. Had the bad taste to concede our first goal of last season
at Easter Road having come on for Super Rab.
Club captain and consummate professional, Boyd has featured rarely
but always reliably. A surprise starter in Amsterdam he strolled through
the game. Having signed a one year deal we may yet see the odd fleeting
glimpse of him, but no more than that surely.
A season sadly marred by injury, and a double penalty miss in Europe.
Prior to his injury Joos was a rock in defence and goal threat at set
pieces (cf. his goal against the huns). You can't pin the cup final
loss on one factor, but you can't really replace a player like this.
Worryingly, he's now in the last year of his contract.
The man robbed of the Player of the Year award. This was the guy who
was being touted for a move after O'Neill arrived; he's now the heart
of the defence, the on field enforcer, and captain of his country. For
attitude he's second to none. Scored the first league goal of the season,
and also crashed one in at Fir Park.
A season of good and bad. His ability is not in doubt, he can tackle,
he's almost unsurpassed in the air, and he's capable with the ball at
his feet. But he's the man most likely to make a colossally stupid challenge
(cf. the free kick in the cup final). However he is young and hopefully
will learn from his mistakes. The victim of a ludicrous press campaign
accusing him of being too physical! This from the press pack that still
pines for the likes of 'Bomber' Brown, 'Rear Gunner' Gough and 'Serial
Came of age in Spain against Valencia having been on the fringes of
the first team for two years. Despite being more accustomed to being
a full back he settled into the back three very nicely indeed. He handled
his first Old Firm game well, and now provides some genuine competition
for a place in the back three. Of course he has the extra touch of being
naturally left sided. Like Rab, Crainey made his Scotland debut recently.
It looked for a while as though O'Neill might be prepared to give Bombscare
an extended run, but the inclusion of Boyd at the expense of Tebilly
for the game in Amsterdam said it all - you just can't risk him in an
important game. Made a few appearances, but finally left to rejoin Steve
Bruce at Birmingham.
Jackie McNamara A disappointing season. After finishing the previous
one with a run in the team and a cup final goal things were looking
up, but last season was a treading water exercise. In his defence he
could point to being asked to play a number of different positions.
To counter that the manager could point to indifferent performances
in those all those positions.
The captain supreme. What can you say about the man who is the hub of
such a consistent, successful team? His game was something to behold
last season, and his goal tally was incredible. His retirement from
the cup final was a huge loss. Well deserved his Writers award of Player
of the Year.
Strong and steady for the most part, but toward the end his injury hampered
his mobility and it showed. Prior to December Lennon had been a real
force in the midfield. However during December he got a bad ankle knock
against Livi, and got into a fight with a pavement during the Christmas
night out. I'll leave it to you to decide which one of these events
affected his form the most. Whatever it was, his form became steadily
poorer, especially against a pacey midfield. His performances in the
final two Old Firm games were terrible, and he was definitely not fit
for the final. Surgery on his knee should see the return of the real
Neil Lennon this season.
Returned from the broken leg with the air of someone who had a point
to prove. Thunderous free kicks against Dundee, Aberdeen and Rangers
did the trick. Suffered a bit of form slump mid-season, but finished
well, getting a double figure goal tally. Could consider himself unlucky
not to retain the Young Player of the Year award.
Farewell to the magician. Lubo was cast in a supporting role last season,
but still managed to steal the show more than a few times. His performance
against Juve was outstanding, even for him. He arrived at Celtic without
a winner's medal to his name; he leaves four years later with five.
A season that came good for the big Geordie. He started off slowly,
although he scored a wonder goal at Ibrox (surely goal of the season)
he was still the worst player on the pitch by a long way. Had an absolute
howler against Juve in Turin, but scored the winner against Rosenborg.
As the season went on his form steadily improved, so much so that his
suspension for our second visit to Ibrox was a real blow.
The youngster from whom most is expected. Maloney has shown signs that
he will be a real entertainer, and a real battler. Most of his appearances
have been from the subs bench, but his strike rate is impressive, and
his free kicks are incredible. He isn't "the next Lubo", but
he should certainly be looking to make the role Lubo played his own.
Petta Another season dominated by injuries, and again it was the
curse of the international call up that did it. Even when he was playing
his form was very up and down. But on the credit side he scored the
opener in Amsterdam, showed some nice touches against Juve, and is still
often a useful outlet to have on the left wing.
Started off brilliantly, but fell away badly at the end. His season
was cut in two by a horror tackle at Tynecastle that nearly cut his
leg in two (commentating on the radio Gordon Smith didn't even think
it was a foul). His absence certainly helped eliminate us from Europe.
Best moment of the season was an unbelievable first half against Juve
at Celtic Park.
Healey Looked as though his Celtic career was going nowhere, but
a loan spell at Coventry has improved his game, and he should now be
expected to compete for a first team place against Lambert and Lennon.
Not taken to Japan with Ireland, but he's young enough to get another
Another outstanding season from the King of Kings. 30 plus goals, and
a fine sprinkling of general all round inspiration. Had his poor moments
- the penalty miss at Ibrox and the cup final - but showed he has nerves
of steel by taking the penalty against Klos in November. The best forward
in the UK, he silenced all doubters with his goals in the World Cup.
On the face of it less than 10 goals in a season is darn poor shooting
for a centre forward, especially when you consider his last goal of
the season came in December! But Sutton, for the vast majority of the
time, went from everyone's favourite centre forward to everyone's favourite
centre half. Apart from displaying a remarkable ability to perform to
such a high standard in defence it also speaks volumes for his attitude.
Other players might have thrown a gusty huff, but Sutton grabbed his
chance in defence, and was always the first to congratulate Hartson
on a goal. A star.
Hartson Took his time getting on the score sheet, but hasn't looked
back since he bagged at hat-trick against United. Ridiculed in the press
for giving himself a target of 20 goals, but he sailed past that figure
with ease. Says something about the medical crew at Ibrox - they didn't
buy him because of fitness doubt, but they did buy De Boer. The number
of games Hartson has missed for us due to injury so far = 0.
Another youngster who has forced his way in. Benefited no end from a
loan spell with Livi two years ago. Although he's more comfortable through
the middle he tends to be played on the wing, but his touch and pace
ensure that even there he's more than capable of contributing to the
game. He's scored a couple of goals and generally looks as though he'll
be a player. Reputed to be the young player most likely to knock on
the manager's door if he's not picked.
Lynch Recovered from his 'growing pains' and scored two at Tynecastle.
Definitely one to watch. Hopefully we'll get more chances to do that
Another outstanding season from the tea boy. Quite how we will replace
him when his career ends is beyond me. Dodgy moment mid-season when
he scalded his hand, but two minutes of holding it under the cold tap
and he was back brewing. What a trouper!