The problem with ex-Celts

When the chips are down at the club you love, you can always rely on an extensive list of ex-players to provide support. Well, not at Celtic you can’t.

You see as much as we love our ex-players, some tend to put the boot in once they have departed Celtic Park. Be it an act of desperation to raise their own profile or just a good old chip on the shoulder about their time with the club, they come along one after one.

For years we’ve been treated to the grammatically incorrect delights of Charlie Nicholas and his ramblings with Jim White on Sky. I was a huge fan of Charlie Nicholas fan when he played for the club but his continual bashing of the club live on TV confined him to the Celtic sin bin a long time ago.

Nicholas did have an issue with the club but he took it too far but Celtic had an issue with him first because he should never have left for Arsenal. It’s bad enough that he chooses to slate Celtic time after time on Sky, but he can’t even do it coherently.

Then there is Craig Burley, another ex-Celtic player who I had much admiration for. His goals from midfield and partnership with Paul Lambert are memorable but once a paid up member of the media, he got stuck in.

Add to that Andy Walker, not one of my favourites, but certainly one player who scored vital goals at Celtic. I actually find him more nauseating than Nicholas and he’s getting more air time than I can handle.

The biggest surprise in recent times is of course Celtic legends John Hartson and Chris Sutton. In modern times, only Henrik Larsson can top them in terms of popularity but they were superb players in their own way.

When Hartson became ill, he received the huge support from the Celtic community. This isn’t unusual in the Celtic family but his illness sparked many a campaign in his honour.

Chris Sutton, a key player in the Martin O’Neill era, was the perfect partner for Larsson in attack. They complimented each other but Sutton won the hearts of every Celtic fan even if he didn’t really have a song of his own (that I can recall).

So why on earth have two of Celtic’s biggest heroes of the modern day decided to slate the club that served them so well? I’m all for honest opinions, but public bashing is something I expect from the media.

Across the city, we’ve observed years of obedience by ex-players and the media when our old rivals were the topic of debate. Only in their eventual downfall did we witness any dissension and even that needed some pressure.

If guys like Nicholas, Walker, Burley, Hartson, Sutton and now Frank McAvennie have an historic issue with the club, they should talk or write about that. I don’t expect ex-Celts to cover up real matters or protect Celtic unnecessarily, but sometimes it just appears that these guys are opening their mouths and letting their bellies rumble, to quote my old school teacher.

In whole or as part, our fans will always challenge the club and their practices, especially when it contravenes what we are supposed to stand for. To our ex-Celt’s hell bent on slamming the club, wind your necks in and take a leaf out of Tom Boyd’s book.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie

What lies ahead

When I cast my mind back to September and October, I recall the murmurings for Ronny Deila’s to go. As Celtic strived for form, the fans had their say but Celtic’s head coach went about his business.

Deila has had his critics and some have even been on the money regarding team selection and tactics. With the greatest of respect to those fans though, their views have been one dimensional.

Deila has tried a few blends in the early months of the season. It has helped him to get to know his players and their capabilities.

His football philosophy goes beyond the field of play though. This has gone over the heads some supporters particularly when results and performances haven’t been to their liking.

As fans, many of us are guilty of only being interested in what’s on show on match days. In reality there is much more to it than that especially during a period of transition.

Deila has been trying to change the culture within the club and the players have backed this. However, reliable as ever, the good old Scottish media (including ex-Celtic players) have all bashed this philosophy, not just Celtic supporters.

When you don’t see what’s going on behind the scenes and performances fall short of expectations it is easy to understand why paying fans have been unhappy. We are used to watching Celtic anihilate the rest of the Scottish football most weeks.

This season has not been anything like that. Its been a challenging one which quite frankly was desperately needed.

Scottish football has been without a challenge for long enough and the second half of the last two seasons have been dire. Aberdeen, Hamilton, Dundee United are amongst those teams who deserve credit for their efforts this season but it has also been overdue.

With changes taking place at Celtic I also felt that we should assess what Ronny had done come Christmas. I mean, even Mowbray got until March!

With the New Year on the horizon and Celtic’s last fixture of 2014 at 3pm today against Ross County, we can now look at where we are. Having narrowly lost to Dundee United last Sunday, defeat will still be fresh in the mind but how do the doubters feel about what lies ahead?

Despite exiting the Champions League, the club remain in Europe. The Europa League is ideal for Celtic right now whilst the Champions League would have been a disaster (last season is a evidence of that).

On the domestic front Celtic are at the top of the league. It may be by a narrow margin but do we really want to run away with the league?

A competitive league is something I’ve always craved. Whether that is other clubs upping their game or Celtic not firing on all cylinders (or both) only time will tell.

The important thing is that things have improved. Celtic are by bo means the finished article but there are further changes on the horizon.

Some Celtic players will resolve their futures in January. With some likely to move on we could even see one or two additions.

There is more to come in 2015 for Celtic fans and right now it looks much more interesting than the last two league run-ins have been. More importantly, Celtic remain in the fight for four competitions.

For a new head coach with fresh ideas thats its not a bad start for Ronny Deila. The question is do you want to see how far this can go or do you still want him to go?

Three points today Celtic and a Happy New Year. Here’s to 2015 and the challenges ahead.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie

Motherwell v Celtic (preview and lineup)

Celtic could go four points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership today. The lunchtime kick off against troubled Motherwell offers Ronny Deila an opportunity to gain some breathing space in the title challenge.

With Inverness playing away to Dundee at 3pm, a win for Celtic would put pressure on the men from the north. Given their performances against Celtic this season, I fancy Paul Hartley’s battlers to get something from that match.

The focus this lunchtime though is Celtic and getting all three points. Motherwell may be nine places behind the reigning Champions, but they managed to beat second placed Dundee United last month so nothing should be taken for granted in this game.

Ronny Deila will be looking to stay top and for his players to continue improving. The team for today is:

Gordon, Matthews, Ambrose, van Dijk, Izaguirre, Brown, Bitton, Forrest, Johansen, Stokes and Guidetti

On the bench:

Zaluska, Scepovic, Commons, Tonev, Wakaso, Fisher and McGregor.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie