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Diminished Returns

29 December 2023


Dropped points at home and away along with the confirmation of our European wooden spoon wasn’t exactly the start to the festive season we were hoping for. The banning of the green brigade and growing discontent around the lack of ambition from the board doesn’t exactly scream ‘unified front’. Thankfully the Ultras are back ahead of the Glasgow Derby. 

Injuries and suspensions have laid bare the paucity of talent in a bloated squad outside the tried and trusted first 14 or so. The maddening transfer policy of trying to spend as little as possible at every juncture in every deal has led to a scattergun ‘punt’ approach which has left us high in quantity and low in quality. 

Rodgers is a high-quality coach and the board will certainly be hoping for a derby win to stop people asking awkward questions and get the bandwagon rolling again.

And it will roll, early European failure at least gives fans more time to forget how bad it all was before they’re asked to buy the expensive three-hammering package again for next season. Win the league, gloat, fail to invest, fail in Europe – repeat, it’s the modern Glasgow Celtic way. 

Winning any league is an achievement but Celtic could be so much more than we are now if we had a coherent, modern policy around recruitment. We could win the league as a matter of course and always be striving to go as far as we can in Europe, instead the current custodians are happy for us to be just a bit better than a poor rangers’ side, it’s such a waste. 

Similar and smaller sized clubs from comparable leagues have found ways to compete almost exclusively through smart recruitment, incrementally increasing their outlays on their next star, slowly and steadily building better squads, and improving. They live in a similar financial reality to the Celtic board, they just don’t fear it as much, they’re looking for an edge and clearly, finding it. 

The danger becomes getting left behind, utterly cut adrift from what we recognize as a club capable of playing at a high European level. The last few years suggest the Champions League is a bridge too far and in our current state, we’re a token entrant there to collect the money, take the hidings and slip out the trapdoor by game 4. 

That money of course is enough to keep us ahead of that poor ranger’s team and for an increasing number of the fanbase, that’s just not enough anymore. If the total of your ambition is to be just a bit better than a not very good team, then just how ambitious are you really? 

That’s also been reflected in the stands in this strange, strange season we’re having. The green brigade ban undoubtedly left a hole in the atmosphere as the ‘they don’t speak for me’ brigade continue to sit on their hands. Then we have the on-pitch fare which has veered wildly this season from the sublime to the shambolic – most recently it’s seemed to settle around ‘turgid’.

This was a big feature of the football in the manager’s second season in his first stint here, a lot of games were drawn that season, the patterns have felt familiar in this season’s games against Motherwell, Hibs and St. Johnstone where we have lots of the ball but struggle to create or break down the opposition. Admittedly, that’s been made more difficult for him considering this season’s squad is considerably weaker than last season’s. 

What would help is a busy January – particularly in the outgoings section, there’s far too much dead weight in there and the addition of some actual first team ready players in the areas where we clearly need them. It won’t fix everything, but it would at least show that the people in charge are at least paying slight attention to what’s happening on the park. We’d all be much the better for it if they primarily focused on the park and less on vendettas on fan groups in the stands. It’s going to be an interesting 2024 

Eoin was born and raised in Dublin and studied print journalism back when that was a thing. Aside from blethering on about Celtic he can often be found at Richmond Park bemoaning another poor St. Pat’s performance. Once saw Tony Cascarino score a goal for Celtic. Temporary stand survivor.

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