An opportunity to celebrate what has gone before.
For Celtic, the season has been a roller coaster. They missed out on the group stages of the Champions League after a pretty poor campaign and the spectacular blowing of that rarest of commodities – a Second Chance – following the administrative calamities of Legia Warsaw.
But a Europa League group was successfully traversed, and the club and fans eventually got the thing they always yearn for: an epic encounter against a continental giant.
The tie against Inter was eventually lost, but the 3-3 draw at Celtic Park will live long in the memory, and whetted the appetite for similar-scale matches next season.
Domestically, it came close to being a perfect season, despite an inauspicious start that had Celtic languishing in mid-table in October and calls being made for Ronny’s head…
But then things started to turn around.
Celtic found their form and have racked up the points such that they are going to end the season with the kind of winning margin that might have been expected back in August, but which didn’t look likely even as we entered Spring.
Much credit must go to Aberdeen, who have been great for much of the season and who gave Celtic fans cause to look uncomfortably at the league table for weeks on end.
The late winner at Pittodrie in November when down to 10 men was a fantastic and significant moment in the season for Celtic. And has been said elsewhere, the four league wins over the Dons have pretty much been the decisive factor in the title race.
Aberdeen will continue building over the summer, Dundee United will doubtless regroup, Hearts will be back in the top flight with high expectations and raring to go, and we may even have the Sevco joker in the pack bringing….errr…. something to the party…
Celtic will need to raise their game again next season if they wish to stay ahead of the game. A misfiring start to the league campaign will not be welcome!
In the Cups, it has been a positive story. It was good to see Ronny secure his first honour with the League Cup – a trophy that Celtic have managed to miss out on time and time again.
En route to the final Celtic even managed to get the Sevco monkey off their back. The semi-final against Sevco brought as much hype as was expected and allowed the MSM to give full vent to its ‘same club’ fantasies.
But the itself game was (thankfully) quite dull (not withstanding the Secvonian song book being given a hearty airing)… Celtic ran out easy winners. The 2-0 score line (including a brilliant Commons goal) was certainly very flattering to Scotland’s newest club…
As for the Scottish Cup, Celtic made their way pretty comfortably through their perpetual away ties in the 4th and 5th Rounds. The Quarter-Final was more tricky, with a 1-1 draw at Tannadice. However, Celtic ultimately put the tie to bed with a thumping 4-0 home win in the replay.
But then THAT semi-final came along. Had Craig Gordon not been sent off with the score at 1-1, Celtic may well have won the game and gone on to next weekend’s final, with a Treble in their sights.
And of course, if the army of officials had seen the Josh Meekings handball then Celtic might have gone 2-0 up and ICT down to 10 men before the Gordon sending off occurred.
If, buts and maybes.
Scottish Football has an Officiating Problem. And one day it will be sorted out.
But the headline news is that Celtic lost the Scottish Cup semi-final and that’s it. If they want a Treble they’ll have to try again next season. They should certainly feel motivated!
I am pleased to say that I never called for Ronny to go earlier in the season. I like the man, and his approach to the game. It has been great to see his growing bond with the fans.
He genuinely seems to love what he does, demands excellence, and is not afraid to show his joy when things go well.
This latter trait is not to everyone’s liking.
If you work damn hard to achieve success, you should be able to celebrate it.
I also like Ronny’s handling of the media. He avoids the clichés and tries not to give them a cheap headline. It must infuriate them.
What a shame eh?
So in terms of domestic results and getting the manager right, it has been a great season.
But the European report card says “Must do better“.
The signings of Armstrong and MacKay-Steven have really excited me, and I hope they mark the beginning of the club backing Ronny with money for new signings. Rather than the end!
Without squad-strengthening, Celtic’s European adventures in 2015-16 could end up looking remarkably similar to the 2014-15 vintage… And that would be very disappointing. Actually Peter and Dermot, it would be unacceptable.
No doubt anguished voices will be raised today, arguing that Celtic’s 46th title is as ‘tainted’ as numbers 44 and 45 were given the absence of a ‘strong Rangers’.
To which I offer the measured response of: BOLLOCKS.
Celtic’s 4-in-a-Row – indeed all its success since the McCann takeover – has been built upon a carefully-planned and executed strategy of generally living within your means and not staking the (Big) Hoose on the roll of the European income dice.
There have been no fantasies about hover pitches, no side letters, no systematic tax reduction schemes, no endless rhetoric about ‘rightful places’, no calling for Judicial Panels to be named, no pissing away money on gardeners, no hand-to-mouth crisis loans, and… no matter how tough things were… NO UNPAID BILLS…
Celtic have grafted hard for what they have achieved – both on and off the pitch. Yes they enjoy a sizeable financial advantage over other clubs. But that didn’t appear out of thin air.
The large stadium, fan base and season ticket sales are no accident.They are the product of a plan and a commitment to doing things properly and sustainably. And hopefully with a bit of flair and style too.
Yes it can be a bloody infuriating and seemingly-parsimonious plan at times. And there are no excuses for not paying the Living Wage.
But the plan is – by and large – working and delivering success.
A deserved success. The club deserves it and so do the fans.
Enjoy the party and