Ten years ago Tuesday, 80,000 Celtic fans descended on Seville to support and cheer on the Parkhead side in their UEFA Cup Final against Porto, managed by some guy called Jose Mourinho -- whatever happened to him? It was the first time Celtic had reached a European final in 33 years, the last being in 1970, when they lost 2-1 to Feyenoord in Milan. Coincidentally, Wim Jansen, who was part of that Feyenoord side, would go on to become Celtic manager in 1997, replacing Tommy Burns, and became a legend in the fans' eyes as he led the Parkhead side to their first league title in 10 years, stopping Rangers from winning 10 in a row.
Rather than focusing on Sunday's victory, I decided to look at the numbers for Celtic. A wee bit of fun after a game that was meaningless, despite the good performance from the players all round. FOUR-ZERO: the score for Celtic as they defeated Dundee United, who finished in sixth place in the SPL, 32 points behind league champions Celtic on 79 points. It was Celtic's first win in the past seven away games, thanks to goals from three different scorers. Two goals from Georgios Samaras, one from Kris Commons and one from Anthony Stokes.
Could Sunday's title party be Neil Lennon's last? Could the Scottish Cup Final on the 26th May be the last piece of silverware that he will look to secure as Celtic manager? Celtic comfortably strolled to a 4-0 victory over St. Johnstone on Saturday thanks to goals from Joe Ledley, Charlie Mulgrew, James Forrest and an own goal from Frazer Wright. But all the talk leading up to the game, was not on the title party after yesterday's game, but of Lennon being linked with a move to the vacant seat at Goodison Park after former Celt David Moyes became the successor to Sir Alex Ferguson, who announced his retirement this week.
Whether he is being hit with notices of complaint by stalker Vincent Lunny or being the manager of a club labelled a 'monster' by the wacky and madcap Killie manager Kenny Shiels, Neil Lennon's time at Celtic Park -- as manager -- has been far from quiet. And that's not even taking into account all that went on in his first few seasons in charge. The latest furore -- away from the ludicrous complaint of entering the playing zone after the full-time whistle and before the 15-minute time limit (wonder who was there with a stopwatch waiting?
Celtic dropped points for the second week in a row as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Ross County. Last week's defeat against second-placed Motherwell, in the grand scheme of things, had no bearing on the SPL title as Lennon's side had already wrapped that up the previous game against Inverness Caley. And neither did this game – in fact these games are mere fillers until the Cup final. The fans were disappointed and angry over the capitulation against Motherwell and just like last week, the Celtic fans were in angry mode over their side's failure to beat Ross County, despite taking the lead early on through Anthony Stokes.
If you thought some of Celtic's performances couldn’t get worse domestically this season, then you would be wrong. Sunday's 3-1 defeat against Motherwell was one of the worst performances from players in a Celtic shirt for several years. It may sound that my past articles on Celtic have been negative in their direction, and you always try and look for positives, even in defeat. But seriously, it would be easier to eat a Ski yogurt with a soup ladle than find positives in this latest offering from so-called professional football players.
With Gary Hooper linked with a move away from Parkhead in the summer, despite Neil Lennon wanting the striker to stay, one player who Celtic should be going for is Dundee United's Johnny Russell. The striker will cost a fraction of the price that Celtic will need to pay for a proven striker from the continent, and not only that, he is tried and tested in the SPL. However, Celtic need to get their hands out of their pockets and pretty sharpish too, as Serie A outfit Catania have seen their third bid knocked back by Dundee United.
Celtic secured their 44th league championship Sunday with a 4-1 win over Terry Butcher's Inverness Caledonian Thistle side. Despite Butcher’s pre-match rhetoric of trying to spoil Celtic’s title party -- was he trying apply for a job with a certain lower-league side? -- his team produced very little to trouble Fraser Forster in the Celtic goal. The first-half performance from Celtic was so flat that it would have made the champagne, chilling in the fridges of the Celtic board room, lose its fizz.
It's funny how quickly certain elements of the mainstream media paint a bleak picture at Celtic when they lose a few games. Celtic were reportedly suffering from a hoodoo at Hampden Park, given the club's past record there. Some commentators were even peddling the notion that Celtic choke on the big stage. It’s funny what a difference one game makes, as Celtic defeated Dundee United 4-3 Sunday after extra time -- and that has seemingly put the hoodoo to bed. That result means Celtic no longer choke when it matters, totally forgetting that this season alone the Parkhead side beat Barcelona at home, were seconds away from taking point at the Nou Camp and won home and away against Spartak Moscow in the Champions League.
It is interesting to read the attacks and allegations made by supporters on the Celtic board in recent times. Whether it is about alleged collusion with the authorities to weed out the Green Brigade, or their failure to spend money to strengthen the squad, it seems that this board can do no right no matter what they do or say. But the Celtic support could have done a whole lot worse -- Rangers fans can testify to that fact. - Strachan predicts Old Firm breakaway Since Fergus McCann took over the mantle at Celtic Park in 1994, the club have worked to a strict business plan to safeguard not only the club's future but also to keep its debt as low as possible.
Put the champagne on ice, call the caterers and don't cook the sausage rolls because Celtic have not crossed the finishing line yet! A late James McFadden equaliser against St.Mirren saw Celtic's chance of securing the SPL championship disappear faster than a Rangers player eating a burger at Nandos. Celtic held up their end as they put Hibernian to the sword with a comfortable 3-0 win. Two goals from Kris Commons and another from Mikael Lustig, edged Celtic onto the edge of glory. - Celtic's title party delayed It wasn't to be, but in reality, the whole atmosphere was nothing like it has been in previous years when winning a title.
So Celtic are finally 90 minutes from securing their second SPL title in a row Saturday - IF Motherwell lose to St Mirren at Fir Park. While the history books will show Celtic Football Club SPL Champions 2012-13, it won’t record the fact that this season has been hit and miss, up and down. In my opinion, domestically, they have been poor and never really hitting second or third gear at times in matches -- yet they will still canter to the title. But that is no fault of Celtic's nor the other clubs in the SPL.