A young team that will get better.

Firstly I was pleased to be asked to write this for TCN.

It was my honour to write the inaugural blog for the site and when my site was attacked last year TCN was good to me in giving me an outlet when others tried to silence me.

TCN asked me to have a look into the future ,a couple of years down the road, and look what was possible for this Celtic team.

Well I make no claims to be a football expert let alone a clairvoyant.

However, a couple of things are, I think, discernible.

We have one of the best young managers in Europe.

What he has come through in terms of what he has had to suffer from the racist crazies who target him is unparalleled in British football.

He has been assaulted on numerous occasions, including in the technical area doing his job.

Bullets and “devices” have been sent to him.

People are serving prison sentences for trying to cause him harm.

Being a football manager is a highly stressful job, that’s a given, however, what Neil Francis Lennon has been through is off the scale.

Really, outrageous stuff.

Through all of that, in his first managerial job, he has learned and developed.

He has got a young squad to gel to the extent that they do what Martin O’Neill’s team-even with Henke-could not do and that is win away from home in European competitions.

So far, so very good indeed.

With the death of our city rivals Europe will be the benchmark of Lennon’s Celtic.

A lot depends on whether or not the board allow Lenny to keep this squad together.

They could cash in next summer with several big money sales, but I hope they don’t and instead keep on doing what they’re doing now.

The business model for the club is that if we do not have CL money then a player must be sold.

Last year we did neither and took the hit.

So this year we had to do both.

I am gutted that we sold Ki, but central midfield remains a strong area of the squad.

In Victor Wanyama we have a genuine star and the big boys in the EPL are already running the rule over him.

We DID buy him to sell him on at some stage that is the model the club works to now.

Will he be the “McGeady sale” for next summer?

If he is then we will make a massive profit on him and others will replace him.

The sale of Wanyama, if it happens, won’t be an event, it will be part of a process.

Probably the most important person in all of this is John Park.

I have heard that the man that drills for football treasure around the world is also being tracked by other clubs.

He certainly has an eye for a player.

If Lenny is allowed to keep the core of this young team together and John Park continues to play a blinder then I see a real chance of European progress for this Celtic team.

The first team squad are all on the right side of 30.

Big Fraser is 24.

Mathews is only 20.

Lustig 25

Kelvin Wilson 27

Big Efe is 24

Rogne 22.

Izaguirre 26.

Charlie Mulgrew 26.

Broonie 27.

Joe Ledley 25

Kayal 24

Samaras 27

James Forrest 21.

Commons is the old man of the squad at 29

Anthony Stokes 24.

Hooperman 24

Lassad 26.

Miku 27.

Tony Watt 18

This team and most of the players in it have their best years in front of them.

The skipper was a big money purchase by Gordon Strachan.

Sammy cost money from City, again a Strachan acquisition.

Both Scott Brown and big Georgios have, in my opinion, improved as players during Neil Lennon’s time in charge.

Only Hooperman cost the club over £2Million under Lenny.

I know that the fee reported in the mainstream media for Efrain Juarez was well wide of the mark.

Miku is a loan deal with an option to buy and it is too early to judge Lassad.

However, it is fair to say that Lenny and his backroom staff have assembled a young squad at little cost.

Moreover, this Celtic team have dealt with the “no away victory in Europe” monkey on the club’s back by means of a judo throw in Moscow that Vladimir Putin would have been proud of.

The pesky primate was slammed into the Russian AstroTurf and since then this Celtic team know they’ve got this European thing sussed.

Teams with massively bigger budgets than Celtic will get hammered in the Camp Nou.

I am sure the home crowd will enjoy the party in Paradise this week, but anything from the second match against Barca will be a massive bonus.

It is the six points that are up for grabs against Spartak and Benfica will be the key.

I am hopeful that this group of players have the minerals to do the business for their young manager.

Moreover, I think the European credentials of Lennon’s Celtic team are about to be further underlined later this month in a city that we all love.

Lisbon.

Comments

  1. Phil

    For me the three most significant points of your opinions are youthfulness, economic potential and continuous learning experience. We hear a lot about how young our squad is yet your piece indicates clearly that a fair number are relatively mature, age-wise at least. This would seem to belie the notion that our failures are down to the team’s inexperience. Not a few of the current players have been round the block and can not justifiably claim that it is all new to them, Europe being the one exception, perhaps. So it is time for some to have a bit of a look at themselves rather than youthfulness as the possible source of some of our regular slackness.
    I have to concur with your notion that Celtic have, at least for the time being, to look at being a selling club. It is obvious that we are just not capable of balancing books and having big name players, in terms of economic value, on the staff for extended contractual periods. The skill will be moving the talented ones on at the right time and at the right price. It will be a question of developing a business nous that can offer the team decent interim successes while offloading players who are either costly to or potential earners for the club at the most propitious moments. It is a strategy that works well for other clubs in Europe and, until some economic credibility is restored to the game, it is one that more and more clubs are going to have to adopt to simply survive never mind achieve anything. With the right approach, there is no reason why Celtic should not do better than most.
    Finally, all of the above will depend on the improvement of the management team in place. If Lenny ran off tomorrow, he would most definitely still have a place in the Celtic annals simply for what he has borne on the club’s behalf and achieved in his short time as manager . He seems to have competent and talented staff around him in all of the key positions. I think you are right to single out the contribution of John Park in the improvements of recent times. It is, at least in terms of management experience, a very young team. It is crucial, therefore that the opportunities to develop and learn are provide for them by the club and that they continue their learning process with discerning and open minds.
    I have great hope for the future of Celtic should everyone continue in the same vein. In an extremely unfair and unbalanced football world, expectations are naturally restrained but one does expect to experience the best of the possible within our limited world.
    Very enjoyable read and interesting observations, Phil.

    H H

  2. Phil

    For me the three most significant points of your opinions are youthfulness, economic potential and continuous learning experience. We hear a lot about how young our squad is yet your piece indicates clearly that a fair number are relatively mature, age-wise at least. This would seem to belie the notion that our failures are down to the team’s inexperience. Not a few of the current players have been round the block and can not justifiably claim that it is all new to them, Europe being the one exception, perhaps. So it is time for some to have a bit of a look at themselves rather than youthfulness as the possible source of some of our regular slackness.
    I have to concur with your notion that Celtic have, at least for the time being, to look at being a selling club. It is obvious that we are just not capable of balancing books and having big name players, in terms of economic value, on the staff for extended contractual periods. The skill will be moving the talented ones on at the right time and at the right price. It will be a question of developing a business nous that can offer the team decent interim successes while offloading players who are either costly to or potential earners for the club at the most propitious moments. It is a strategy that works well for other clubs in Europe and, until some economic credibility is restored to the game, it is one that more and more clubs are going to have to adopt to simply survive never mind achieve anything. With the right approach, there is no reason why Celtic should not do better than most.
    Finally, all of the above will depend on the improvement of the management team in place. If Lenny ran off tomorrow, he would most definitely still have a place in the Celtic annals simply for what he has borne on the club’s behalf and achieved in his short time as manager . He seems to have competent and talented staff around him in all of the key positions. I think you are right to single out the contribution of John Park in the improvements of recent times. It is, at least in terms of management experience, a very young team. It is crucial, therefore that the opportunities to develop and learn are provide for them by the club and that they continue their learning process with discerning and open minds.
    I have great hope for the future of Celtic should everyone continue in the same vein. In an extremely unfair and unbalanced football world, expectations are naturally restrained but one does expect to experience the best of the possible within our limited world.
    Very enjoyable read and interesting observations, Phil.

    H H

  3. The big game, in my opinion, is likely to be a “winner takes all” encounter against Spartak on 5th December with the prize being European football in spring 2013.

    Whatever happens this season, Celtic will improve under Neil Lennons’ stewardship in the years to come. For what he has achieved and for all he has endured on our behalf, Mr Lennon is a true Celtic legend. Now, if his team beat Barca on Wednesday…………..

  4. The big game, in my opinion, is likely to be a “winner takes all” encounter against Spartak on 5th December with the prize being European football in spring 2013.

    Whatever happens this season, Celtic will improve under Neil Lennons’ stewardship in the years to come. For what he has achieved and for all he has endured on our behalf, Mr Lennon is a true Celtic legend. Now, if his team beat Barca on Wednesday…………..

  5. Great blog, showing the age of the squad, we are punching above our weight. Also the demands and pressures of playing for Celtic weighs heavy on these young shoulders, but they are growing into it, some quicker than others. Good read Phil

  6. Great blog, showing the age of the squad, we are punching above our weight. Also the demands and pressures of playing for Celtic weighs heavy on these young shoulders, but they are growing into it, some quicker than others. Good read Phil

  7. Cant wait to go to lisbon…away games are not so daunting now that lenny has thrown that monkey off our back;-)…its gonna be really hard to keep a hold of these bhoys phil come january hh n roll on the 19th till i fly out to lisbon gbnl

  8. Cant wait to go to lisbon…away games are not so daunting now that lenny has thrown that monkey off our back;-)…its gonna be really hard to keep a hold of these bhoys phil come january hh n roll on the 19th till i fly out to lisbon gbnl

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