Now that the nine matches of supercharged December have come and gone with the Hoops remaining undefeated domestically it is time to take stock of where we are collectively and individually this season. I know no two people have the same opinions about players and the ones below are only mine so feel free to disagree. One of the best things about being a Celtic fan is that shared ability we have to absolutely disagree about anything with each other and the unity that gives a common response to any criticism from outside. It is as if there is an unspoken bond that we take criticism and argue with each other without a problem, but we bristle and become very protective of the club if others are critical.
Given we are flying high I am not expecting that my views on the squad will be too different to lots of people around the World who will be conducting a similar review.
Starting with Brendan and the backroom staff it is positive, positive, positive. Brendan has made one tactical mistake v Barcelona away when we had five at the back when we needed the five in the midfield to stop the ball getting to Messi, Suarez and Neymar. We would not have won the game with five in midfield but we may not have shipped seven goals. This game aside Brendan has been brilliant. Brendan learned from that and made us competitive in the remaining CL group games. He changes wee things during games to give the team a balance and of course his ability to coax the best out of players is second to none.
The above is best exemplified by the emergence of Stuart Armstrong as a key player in the team. I liked watching Stuart Armstrong when he played against us at Dundee United, but after he signed for us it is fair to say that he never really hit the heights. He looked like one of those players that struggled to deal with the expectations of playing for Celtic, especially as he was played in a wide position.
The transformation this season has been unbelievable. Something simple like Brendan talking to Stuart and asking where he prefers to play has unleashed a player who looks like he belongs at Celtic and looks like he loves his football at this time. The result is that since being a regular starter in midfield Stuart has just got better and better and better. This in my view is down to the coaching and man management of Brendan.
There is a similar situation with Broony. Brendan recognised him as the key to the dressing room and the leader of the players. The invite for Broony to eat at Brendan’s house to build their alliance was a master stroke and I think Broony described it as a delicious meal J. The outcome is a captain who is fully committed to the manager and a player who has taken it up a notch this season. Emotional intelligence at its best.
To run through the team I have decided in the words of The Clash should they stay or should they go…..
Craig Gordon- Keep the keeper. Being dropped is the best thing to happen to Craig this season. Since replacing Dorus he has been a revelation and is back to his first season form with us. STAY
Dorus de Vries- Has not inspired confidence when he has played. Not for me. GO
Logan Bailly- Deposed as back up by Dorus. GO
Leo Fasan- Hasn’t made it yet and looks like he perhaps won’t. GO
Kolo- Started okay but clearly best days are behind him. Major errors v BMG but because of his influence on other for me it is… STAY
Izzy- Deputising for KT. Has grown back into the role. STAY
Efe- I have not met anyone who doesn’t like Efe. However, as much as we like him that does not make him stop making mistakes. GO
Jozo- Has established himself as first pick. STAY
Cristian Gamboa- looked uncertain early games but performance against Hamilton away might have been the turning point for him. STAY
Dedryck Boyata-Not convincing at all. GO
Mikael Lustig- We can see that Mikael is suffering the wear and tear of years of injuries but he is a warrior and for me whilst he may not get any better he is a STAY
Big Erik- Not the tallest but big Erik will do for me. Had a shaky first 15 minutes last week but usually reliable and defensively sound. STAY
Eoghan O’ Connell- Still young but it depends how ambitious he is. I think he has played okay when he has featured but maybe needs a season , like Callum McGregor, on loan . However if the manager doesn’t pick him it may be to time to…GO
Jamie Mc Cart- STAY but loan
Anthony Ralston- STAY but loan
Saidy Janko- On loan. Not as bad as Tyler Blackett but not for me thanks. GO
KT- STAY. ‘ Nuff said.
Big Nir- I liked him in the old days when he only had one T in his surname J. Keeps the game moving albeit slowly and whilst I like him I think he may go if we get a decent bid. I think Kouassi Eboue will be his replacement and if he signs it will be farewell to our big strolling midfielder. GO
Broony- in career best form and always good for standing on ad hoardings. A moment of defiance that is up there with the original. STAY
Scotty bhoy- Works hard, scores goals and a step over that is unstoppable. Yes please. STAY.
GMS- I was surprised when we signed this very likeable young man. However I cannot see him ever holding down a permanent place. GO
Ryan Christie- Like GMS on the periphery but in my view I think he CAN hold down a place if Tom Rogic leaves. I like his skill and his style. STAY
Tom Rogic- Like Stuart Armstrong looks like he is loving life under Brendan. Amazing skills and an eye for goal. What’s not to like? STAY
Wee Paddy- Not ours to keep and I don’t think we can afford him if we bid for him. When he is ‘on’ he is a delight to watch. GO
Kristoffer Ajer- One for the future? If not playing let go or loan. I am going to say KEEP but loan.
Callum- Not a regular starter but can fill in a few positions. KEEP
Jamesy- doing really well this year. Yet another player who has benefitted from Brendan’s influence and is proving his worth. STAY
Kris Commons- Great servant but clearly does not fit in. Gave us a lifelong fan in his partner, the wonderful Lisa Hague. GO
Liam Henderson- Another I rate but the question is will he be a first team regular? I think he will leave and am pretty confident this young lhad will have a decent career ahead of him. GO.
Scott Allan- It appears that this young mhan was signed as a GIRUY to Sevco. Sadly it seems he won’t cut it at Celtic. GO
Joe Thompson- On loan at QoS now, but KEEP
Nadir Ciftci- He is so far out of the picture it seems that I would be more liable to get a game than him. GO
Aidan Nesbitt- On loan at Cappielow. Let’s see how he develops. KEEP
Leigh- KEEP, KEEP, KEEP
Moussa- If he listens to Brendan and ZZ he will stay maybe another year or so. When he goes he will go for big KERCHING to a top European club, not a team that could be relegated this year. Yes they can pay him more cash but if the lhad is patient his next contract will make him for life!!! KEEP
Jack Aitchison- Young, developing KEEP
I think on reflection I have been brutal, especially around keepers but I know everyone I think should GO won’t. I have not written about transfer targets in this article but will in the coming days.
PS I see Senor Guardiola is showing signs of pressure and stress. He must have thought that English football was a breeze then after he played the Celtic in the CL his team has been shot and he has been found wanting. Nothing I am sure a few dozen million pounds cannot solve!!