PO Box 306, Glasgow, G21 2AE, Scotland
declining quality must be addressed regardless of whether celtic win the championship
Irrespective of whether we win the SPL Title again this season (and irrespective of whether WGS or A. N. Other is manager at the start of next season) one thing seems clear; this current Celtic team needs major surgery.
Rebuilding the team will be made easier if we win the league with all the guaranteed Champions League money that entails.
Some players seem certain to leave for example Bobo Balde. Others, such as Donati, Nakamura and JVOH seem likely to leave while it is also possibleble that one or two of our more saleable assets will also exit through the revolving door. These departures will also help free up more cash.
We all have our opinions on who could be brought in to Celtic. I would suggest that the following two players currently playing in the SPL would walk straight into our starting 11. James McCarthy from Hamilton and Stephen Fletcher of Hibs.
Our forward line this season has been woeful, as poor as I can remember in years. JVOH has only scored twice – Twice!- this season. Stephen McManus, playing at centre half, has scored more. Fletcher has more pace than JVOH (not difficult, I admit), he has more strength than Samaras (again, not difficult) and a better first touch than McDonald (again, not difficult).
If we fail to win the league this season then the failure to buy Fletcher or a forward of similar ability in the January transfer window will be as a much of a reason as any.
The performances this season have consistently lacked quality. Since beating Rangers 1:0 at Ibrox on December 27th, Celtic have only won 3 of the next 9 league games. Five have been drawn with one defeat at Pittodrie.
We have only won 14 out of the 27 points available in the last 9 league games. That’s not Championship winning form, and it’s simply not good enough.
We have played Dundee Utd four times this season. We have still to beat them in 90 minutes, our only victory coming on penalties in the CIS semi final. While we have no divine right to win any game, the financial gulf between ourselves and the likes of Dundee Utd should mean we can do better than draw every time we play them.
That was highlighted again at Tannadice on the last league Sunday in March. At no time did Celtic seem to be comfortably in control of the game. Part of the fault for that lies with the manager. It would be interesting to hear why he picked JVOh and Nakamura to start last week’s game at Tannadice. Yet again, in an away fixture, Naka was missing in action; too frail, too lightweight and too slow. As for JVOH, how ineffective does a player have to be before WGS refuses to pick him?
A five man midfield helped win us the CIS cup. Why change a winning formula? JVOH offers nothing; no goals, no pace, does nothing to pressure the opposing defenders. Simple solution, drop JVOH and play a 5 man midfield.
For those who think the above is overly critical then the following table should emphasise the reduction in quality we have seen this season.
This table shows the number of points the winners of the SPL have accrued in the 10 seasons since the SPL started in season 1998-99. From 2001-02 we have ‘enjoyed’ a 38 game season. This highlights how the number of points required to win the league has reduced since we won the league with 103 points back in season 2001-02.
Celtic are currently on 64 points. Even if we were to win our remaining 9 games (unlikely, I would have thought on recent evidence) the maximum points we could achieve would be 91.
I would suggest that the reduction in the number of points required to win the league is evidence of the reduction in quality. To me it shows that the current squad are not as good as those of a few years ago.
Some Celtic suppoters like to suggest that this is the worst Rangers team since the last worst Rangers team. Rather than gloating about that, these people should be asking themselves this question: why, if Rangers are so bad are we only 3 points ahead of them in the race for the title?
That should surely send a message to the manager and the board that we need to improve the quality of the starting 11.
Quality as well as quantity of signings will be vital this summer. We need more signings of the quality of Boruc, Caldwell, Hinkel, Scott Brown and McDonald – all of whom I would judge to be a success – and less signings of players like Virgo, Du Wei, Jarosik, Chris Killen, Graveson and Donati, all of whom I would suggest have been (expensive) failures.
Let us hope we win the league this season and use our position of relative financial strength to rebuild the team during the close season.
That way we might return to Celtic Park next season with a realistic sense of expectation that not only will Celtic win but they will do so in an entertaining manner.
GEORGE OF THE NORTH STAND