Yesterday’s news confirming the appointment of Ange Pontecoglu as Celtic’s 20th manager brings to an end the stand-off between the club and the supporters and allows minds to be made up whether or not season tickets are going to be renewed or conversely whether the events of the past twelve months have caused an irretrievable breakdown in the relationship between any given supporter and the Celtic Board.
Celtic have certainly taken their time in replacing Neil Lennon – we counted him once as a Celtic Manager incidentally – and as a result opened themselves up for an extraordinary amount of criticism and online abuse from angry fans and trolls. With this conflict now at an end there will remain wounds, scars and mistrust on both sides. Lennon, probably inadvisably tried to get his version of events out last weekend in his interview in The Times and from that you got an insight into the anger Lennon and indeed many others at the club felt about the a section of the support’s angry reaction to a season where everything that could possibly go wrong did so.
We can go over old ground. Lennon was the wrong man for the job and could never follow in the footsteps of an elite coach like Brendan Rodgers, if he was getting the job he should have been allowed to bring in his own coaching staff rather than work with one arm tied behind his back (history may be about to repeat itself on that one), the players kept and released last year were the wrong way round – Hayes, Gordon and Simunovic could have done a job for one more season and would have been happy to stay while the Want Aways should have been sold and the incoming revenue put towards recruitment.
There is no doubt though that the way Celtic is run needs modernising and while we have a new manager – who like all the others should be given our full support from the start – we also have a new CEO who yesterday spoke of Celtic evolving in all departments. Again Dominic McKay should not be tainted by his few months association with the inner workings at Celtic Park at the tail end of the previous CEO’s tenure. Judge him on his own actions, decisions and accomplishments.
The club seemed to implement a new, modern approach to communications yesterday, after many months in their Parkhead bunker. And as Niall J noted last night, both Ange Postecoglou and Dom McKay talked a good game.
The forward planning over the past few months in terms of signing new players and selling want aways will determine whether the new look Celtic are going to be ready to mount a serious challenge next season. Some players, most notably Odsonne Edouard and Kris Ajer will be sold for sums well below what could have achieved last summer but the decision to retain their services wasn’t controversial, indeed it was welcomed. Both players have previous clubs with sell-on clauses that needs to be factored in, in Ajer’s case we know it’s 10% but on Edouard the PSG share of the profit on any future transfer has been reported at various times as being 30%, 40% and even 50%. Who knows for sure outside the two clubs?
There will however be plenty of opportunities to take advantage of the suppressed transfer values as the game factors in the financial plight across the game caused by the pandemic. There will be bargain buys aplenty, hopefully Celtic are on the ball in terms of the correct selections. There is a real opportunity here to build a decent side on a tight budget.
The support too has to look at ourselves critically to see what we can do better. The financial backing the fans gave to the club last season was unmatched anywhere in football. It was astonishing. The success that we have enjoyed over the past decade and in particular the period since Brendan Rodgers arrived (he did so after another low-ebb, losing to Championship side theRangers in the Scottish Cup semi-final in April 2016), will never be repeated in the game in Scotland or probably anywhere else.
In the course of time our Quadruple Treble with go down as the greatest achievement in Celtic’s history after that joyous afternoon in Lisbon on 25 May 1967. Yet it was won in December, not May. At an empty Hampden Park and with the club in the midst of a winter of discontent. It’s under appreciation is another tragic outcome from last season.
The night St Johnstone won the Scottish Cup, to complete a remarkable double that was a 10,000/1 chance at the start of the season, I was in Perth and watched as their fans celebrated, without any malice or aggression to anyone. It was the great to see actually. Then a car with a 55 Premier Titles (sic) Flag flying out the window pulled up and stopped at the traffic lights next to the bar where the fans were on the street. The driver and his pal had the windows down and were blasting out Ibrox songs of hatred, much to the amusement of the St Johnstone fans – the Perth side had after all won at Ibrox in the quarter final. What though makes these Ibrox supporters think that it’s all about them? Surely we don’t want to follow them down a similar path?
The Saints fans I chatted to reckoned that Celtic’s time of clearing up all the trophies simply had to come to an end at some point and they were just delighted that they picked up two from three of the prizes that inevitably slipped from our grasp.
Mike Maher writing on here has recalled the apathy that was setting into the Scottish game as Celtic won 9IAR for the first time, and how this led to league reconstruction and the emergence of the Premier League (the Ibrox flags that don’t just claim 55 titles but actually claim 55 Premier Titles add more lies onto their core lie). It’s unhealthy for the game for one club to always win and do we want to be a support who are remembered for throwing our toys out the pram because we had one trophyless season?
Many younger supporters – obviously through no fault of their own – don’t remember much about the days when Celtic weren’t as dominant. Others slightly older will factor in the EBT tax cheating as the main reason why at least half a dozen titles were lost in their lifetime. But as we go through the various age groups plenty will remember the late 1980s through most of the 1990s and how hard it was to remain optimistic against what looked like impossible odds.
Fergus McCann’s arrival and the strategic decision to build a 60,000 all seated stadium changed things and the balance of power in Scottish football swung back in Celtic’s direction. That literally killed Rangers FC.
David Potter will ofter recall the early 1960s in his articles on The Celtic Star and how the club endured a barren spell from that 7-1 League Cup final win over Rangers in 1957 through to the Scottish Cup win in 1965 under new manager Jock Stein, without winning anything at all. Yet the Celtic support was still there.
To renew now is your own choice. Celtic will sign players, Ange Postecoglou will arrive in Scotland and will be full of positive vibes for the season to come and there will inevitably be growing enthusiasm among the support. His task will be made easier the more backing he receives from the club and that is going to be determined after the supporters decide on whether to renew or not. Across the city their season tickets have already sold out.
In conclusion, surely it’s time to support Celtic and to give Ange Postecoglou and Dominic McKay a fair crack at the whip? That’s why I’ll be renewing the season tickets in this household. Hopefully you’ll come to a similar decision and we can all get back to the place we call Paradise next season. COYBIG.