Celtic, SPFL

Celtic’s Complacency Trap

Good Evening.

Celtic are an absolute shoe-in to win the league this and every season, aren’t they? And the evidence of the past two campaigns suggests that if they get themselves organised they can win a cup or two most years.

With their financial resources, top boardroom executives, quality manager, massive fan base, large stadium and talented players, no other side in Scotland can hope to compete over the course of a season.

Celtic are bound for 10-in-a-row and beyond, and the only point of interest each season is if they can negotiate the banana skin-laden endurance test of the Champions League qualification marathon.

These are great times for Celtic, as the club reaps the rewards of years of sustainable building, by having an operation and cash which absolutely dwarfs the minnow-like domestic opposition.

Woo hoo!

The above is the sort of view that is easy to adopt – either consciously and arrogantly, or subconsciously (perhaps because you have never known or have forgotten hard footballing times). And to a large degree it is quite a rational point of view to hold when you look at financial statistics, player transfers and wages, and results on the pitch over the past few years.

But it is a view that is absolute b*llocks of the highest order.

Worse than that, it is downright dangerous. Because it leads to people taking their eye off the ball, becoming complacent, and not doing everything they can to maximise the resources at their disposal.

And that way lies the path to defeat. Perhaps even deserved defeat. It leads to the loss of titles and humiliation As well as the potential loss of access to Champions League football.

“Surely Celtic could never fall into that trap?'” I hear you ask. “And even if they did start losing games they have enough to keep winning the title every year, don’t they?”.

Well, it’s too early to say that they are falling into that trap. However, you only have to look at

  • the club’s transfer activity over the summer,
  • some truly limp performances domestically and in Europe; and
  • the sometimes obvious unhappiness of the manager and his sudden diminished ability to fire up the team and win tactical battles week in and week out
  • …to wonder if some sort of rot is setting in.
  • Can anyone observing Celtic over the past few months honestly say that the club – from boardroom to football pitch – looks hungry enough? Does it look as though every sinew is being strained to maximise the on-pitch outcome while not stupidly imperilling the balance sheet?

    I would say that it doesn’t look like that. The root of all of this is open to debate.

    It could be the board’s failure to properly back the manager, it could be the manager suddenly finding he has taken the squad he largely inherited as far as he can and is devoid of miracle-working ideas, or it could be players not having the drive or tactics to ‘go again’ and demolish better-organised opponents for yet another season.

    Whatever the case, the Celtic FC we see on the pitch most games is not the Celtic FC that should be out there with the energy, quality, drive, creativity and perseverance to win and keep on winning in a variety of ways week after week.

    Victories and titles have to be earned no matter how big or good you are. They require everyone to be pulling in the same direction, maximising every strength and minimising every weakness. Every season should be seen as a fresh start and every game should be seen as a renewed challenge. NOTHING should ever be taken for granted if you want to be Champions.

    I am not sure the Celtic FC of 2018-19 is operating in this way. Yet.

    So I end this attempted blog with two questions for the Celtic board, manager, staff and players:

    1. How badly do you want to win the SPFL Premiership (and hopefully the cups) this season?
    2. How are you going to maximise your chances of doing so each and every day?

    If all concerned are not able to answer these questions by singing from the same hymn sheet, then some senior folk perhaps need to think about walking away sooner rather than later.