Celtic’s horrible winter continued into the New Year. Despite a decent performance against theRangers at Ibrox on 2 January Bobby Madden saw enough in a tug by Nir Bitton on Morelos to send off the Celtic utility man. Callum McGregor then deflected a corner kick into his own net for the only goal of a game in which the home side failed to register a single shot on the Celtic goal – and still won.
But at least the players had their mid-winter trip to Dubai to look forward to. Andy Walker called it a ‘jolly’, Peter Lawwell sanctioned the £400k spend and in the middle of a global pandemic Celtic jetted off to the other side of the world for some winter sunshine and perhaps a poolside pint or two. What could possibly go wrong?
Chris Jullien tagged along, despite his injury being so severe he was effectively ruled out from playing until the clocks go back, after of course they’d had a chance to go forward. Somehow he managed to catch Covid and made sure that he’d been in contact with enough teammates on the various bus trips to rule out the most of the Celtic first team, the manager and his assistant. Winnable home matches against Hibs and Livingston were both drawn as was the next game away to Livingston, six needless points dropped and the title was over. Scott Brown came off the bench at the Tony Macaroni as the snow fell. Willie Collum then sent him off for holding off an opponent.
The only win of this dreadful start to 2021 came against Hamilton in another of those winnable matches (2-0) before the month ended with St Mirren winning at Celtic Park for the first time in the lifetime of anyone playing that day. And they thoroughly deserved their victory too. A stubborn Neil Lennon doggedly remained in situ as the Celtic manager.
Peter Lawwell apologised for Dubai and later announced he’d be leaving at the end of the season with Scottish Rugby executive Dominic McKay getting the CEO gig at Celtic from 1 July.
We have been using Sandman’s Definitive Ratings after each match as a basis to chart the season and try to determine who should be our Player of the Year. This is usually done by posting a Poll for you to vote but that didn’t seem the way to go this season.
We’ve looked at each month from August to December 2020 separately over the previous four days on The Celtic Star, adding each subsequent month’s ratings to a running total. We’ve now added the ratings from January and the new scoreboard is shown below.
Not even Covid and the determinations of the Scottish Government could stop Celtic’s Marathon Man Callum McGregor playing week in week out but therein lies a problem. We’re seriously risking burn-out with a player who is prepared to give absolutely everything for Celtic, but at a cost, something for the next manager to consider.
Ajer and Christie have overtaken Scott Brown who had a pointless January due to the covid-post Dubai fiasco and his suspension after that red card at Livingston. Tony Ralston got his one and only start of the season and got a Man of the Match too but two players in January were given ZERO from ten ratings from Sandman who is usually regarded as being over generous in his scores. The players in question were Ryan Christie and Shane Duffy.
Jeremie Frimpong was sold to Bayer Leverkusen for £11.5m in the transfer window.
SANDMAN’S DEFINITIVE RATINGS – TOTALS FOR UP TO AND INCLUDING ALL GAMES IN JANUARY 2021…
1. CALLUM McGREGOR – STARTS 37 POINTS 228
2. KRISTOFFER AJER – STARTS 30 POINTS 190
3. RYAN CHRISTIE – STARTS 27 POINTS 161
4. SCOTT BROWN – STARTS 24 POINTS 160
5. JEREMIE FRIMPONG – STARTS 26 POINTS 156
6. ODSONNE EDOUARD – STARTS 21 POINTS 129.5
7. VASILIS BARKAS – STARTS 19 POINTS 123.5
8. MOI ELYOUNOUSSI – STARTS 23 POINTS 121.5
9. NIR BITTON – STARTS 20 POINTS 121.5
10. SHANE DUFFY – STARTS 21 POINTS 109.5
11. GREG TAYLOR – STARTS 18 POINTS 106.5
12. DIEGO LAXALT – STARTS 18 POINTS 102.5
13. CHRIS JULLIEN – STARTS 15 POINTS 91.5
14. DAVID TURNBULL – STARTS 13 POINTS 79.5
15. ISMAILA SORO – STARTS 11 POINTS 78
16. OLIVIER NTCHAM – STARTS 13 POINTS 73.5
17. SCOTT BAIN – STARTS 10 POINTS 61.5
18. TOM ROGIC – STARTS 10 POINTS 58
19. ALBIAN AJETI STARTS 10 POINTS 55
20. LEIGH GRIFFITHS – STARTS 8 POINTS 46
21. JAMES FORREST – STARTS 8 POINTS 45.5
22. HATEM ELHAMED – STARTS 10 POINTS 44.5
23. CONOR HAZARD – STARTS 7 POINTS 42
24. PATRYK KLIMALA – STARTS 4 POINTS 21.5
25. STEPHEN WELSH – STARTS 3 POINTS 15.5
26. ANTHONY RALSTON – STARTS 1 POINTS 7
27. MIKEY JOHNSTON – STARTS 2 POINTS 7
28. CAMERON HAPRER – STARTS 1 POINTS 4
Tomorrow we’ll look back on February 2021, bet you can’t wait!