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25 January 2024

Celtic are back and we kicked off with a win in Scottish Cup v Buckie Thistle. Brendan Rodgers is still looking to strengthen the squad and off load some of the players on the fringes of the squad. We have a League to win and Brendan’s comments on Matt O’Riley were welcome at today’s press conference.

When Brendan arrived at the club for his second spell in the close season, one of his main objectives was to have us playing European football after Christmas. Having failed in this objective, I don’t think too many fingers can be pointed at the manager for this failure. Apart from the Atletico Madrid 6-0 away defeat, I think that the team on the whole performed not too badly in the other games.

I think we are a bit unlucky to have only gotten four point in the section. On another night we could have taken all three points at home against Madrid and we were a bit unlucky and naive to get suckered in the last minute at home to Lazio. But ‘what if’s’ does not change the fact that we are out of Europe.

The final game against Feyenoord, it was important that we finished the campaign on a high and the victory gives the players a boost and a belief that they can compete and win at Champions League level which will stand to them in the future. Let’s not kid ourselves. The way the Champions League is set up is for the elite clubs to progress from the groups to the last sixteen of the competition.

There are a couple of teams each year who buck the trend, but on the whole the majority of the big teams are there. Which means the rich clubs get richer and in turn leave the smaller nations like us further and further behind. After the defeat to Lazio the key-board warrior’s were out in force slating the board for not spending some of the millions in profits to improve the team. I think we have to get real.

How many millions would we have to invest to compete at this level? Fifty million? A hundred million? Wipe the club’s profits out with four ten million pound signings. It’s not going to happen. What we need to do in the short term is give a chance to the new Champions League set-up for next season. As we have seen for a long time now, the current set up does not seem to suit us for progression to the last sixteen of the competition. So we have to embrace the new set-up. But to get there we have to make sure we win the league this season and for me that meansĀ  strengthening the squad now.

Not only strengthening the squad but also trimming the squad. The squad at the moment is too big with players that have no chance of getting near a first team start. To challenge at European level we need better players while still balancing the books and keeping the club in profit. This is the challenge facing the board and Brendan Rodgers.

Brendan, I would like to think will have a major input about who comes into the club as this is his first transfer window with influence. If we have any ambitions in the new European set-up then we need new players to have time to bed in during the second half of the season. This is the balancing act that has to be done while still winning the title which is the main objective.

If we want to put a positive on going out of Europe early it should mean going into league games fresh and better prepared. We are now only competing in the league and Scottish Cup and all efforts and focus will now go into winning the double.

Looking at the home games this season it’s becoming like ground-hog day. Trying to break down eleven men defences. Goalkeepers wasting time at every opportunity, opposition players wasting time at throw ins and at every other opportunity. The man in the middle could nip this time wasting in the bud early on but we know this won’t happen with the SFA’s finest in black in charge.

On a personal note during the trip to Rome it was one of the highlights of my life and career to meet and shake hands with his holiness Pope Francis as a member of the Celtic party during our audience with him.

John Fallon has been writing for this Celtic fanzine since 2002. The original Holy Goalie has won every honour with Celtic and played his part in the greatest ever era in the history of the famous Glasgow Celtic. John is ever present at Celtic games home and away and at Celtic supporters functions.