Saturday, May 21, 2016

2015-16 report card - Celtic

Won the title.  Meh.
Celtic crest

LEAGUE: Champions, 86pts (2014-15 - Champions, 92pts)
SCOTTISH CUP: Semi-finals
LEAGUE CUP: Semi-finals
EUROPA LEAGUE: Group stage
MOST USED FIRST XI: Craig Gordon, Mikael Lustig, Dedryck Boyata, Efe Ambrose, Kieran Tierney, Nir Bitton, Scott Brown, Stuart Armstrong, Tom Rogic, Stefan Johansen, Leigh Griffiths

OVERVIEW: Could a trained monkey have won as many trophies as Ronny Deila this season?  It's a question worth asking.  Celtic's league title was as much down to having a deep (or even bloated) squad which meant they could absorb injuries and losses of form in a way Aberdeen couldn't.  But yet again they struggled with the big occasions: two cup semi-finals lost (one to Rangers!) as a result of panicky performances; failure to make the Champions League again; failure to win a single Europa League game.  Rarely were they so dominant in games that they could engage cruise control.  And if Leigh Griffiths had been injured for any length of time, even the Premiership could have gone all Pete Tong.  The most appropriate adjective is surely 'meh'.

HIGH POINTS: Probably the day they officially wrapped up the title by beating Aberdeen, though even then they nearly threw away a 3-0 lead.

LOW POINTS: That loss on penalties to Rangers was not only humiliating but had an enormous psychological effect on both sides; Celtic's great rivals now believe they can cause a real upset in the top flight next season.

STAR MAN: Frankly, Leigh Griffiths carried Celtic this season.  Simple as that.

ONE FOR THE FUTURE: Aside from Griffiths and Tom Rogic, Kieran Tierney was the only other bright spot; the left-back is surely the most promising Scottish youngster around.

WASTE OF SPACE: Take your pick from Tyler Blackett, Scott Allan, Carlton Cole and Nadir Ciftci.  Though there were plenty of other wage thieves too.

THE BOSS: Oh, Ronny.  You seemed so fresh and idealistic when you arrived at Celtic Park, but by the end it was clear that you were broken.  In May the team were still having the same difficulties with set-pieces that they did in August.  The tactics were the same for every single game with no obvious plan B, with Griffiths bailing the team out time and time again.  And the players never seemed to forgive him for blaming the Malmo defeat on them.  I'm sure Deila will go on to be a decent manager elsewhere.  But bringing in Brendan Rodgers is like replacing a Ford Fiesta with a Mercedes.

PROSPECTS FOR NEXT SEASON: A sixth successive title is of course a minimum requirement; being in the same league as Rangers will surely serve as a boot up the behind.  Brendan Rodgers is an excellent, but expensive appointment; success in Europe (i.e. Champions League qualification) may be dependent on how large a transfer budget he is given...which may in turn depend on how many of the numerous duds on the books can be shifted off the wage bill. But it seems reasonable to expect the quality of results, and the quality of football, to be an improvement.

FIRST TEAMERS DEFINITELY LEAVING: Tyler Blackett (end of loan), Derk Boerrigter

Lawrie Spence (LS) has ranted and spouted his ill-informed opinions on Narey's Toepoker since September 2007.  He has a life outside this blog.  Honestly.

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