When it comes to giant killing, Caley Thistle have done their fair share. Unfortunately for us Celtic fans, we’ve been on the end of these killings in three cup competitions.
John Barnes was the first Celtic manager to suffer at the hands of Inverness in the Scottish Cup 16 years ago. That was later followed up in 2003 under Martin O’Neill’s tenure in the same competition.
On both of those occasions, Inverness were a First Division club (now the Scottish Championship). In the years that followed, Inverness showed that they were a team worth paying attention to having made the SPL (now Scottish Premiership) in 2004.
They certainly weren’t one season wonders either. After five seasons in the top flight, they were relegated but only for one season.
in 2010 they were back in the top flight and have remained there ever since. Last season they inflicted more pain on Celtic when they dumped the Hoops out of the Scottish Cup for the third time.
They went on to win the cup last year and also made their debut in Europe, exiting the Europa League in the second qualifying round. So far this season they’ve failed to duplicate last seasons form.
However, despite things being slow moving this season, they have still managed to keep Aberdeen at bay for almost a year. The Dons haven’t beaten them this season at all and credit to John Hughes, he has managed to haul his team up the league and into the top half.
In fact, Caley Thistle are only 1 point off 4th spot in the Scottish Premiership. They also have two games at hand over the current 4th placed club, Ross County.
So today will be no easy ride for Celtic I’m sure. There have been a handful of additions to the Ronny Deila’s team recently, some back from injury and some who have rarely featured at all.
Celtic supporters are talking about seeing more of Scott Allan, Ryan Christie and of course loanee Patrick Roberts. John Collins hinted that we may see the latter of the three today, but we’ve yet to see Allan and Christie in as regulars.
Their futures are long-term at the club and it is likely that because of that, they are not been thrown into the team just yet. It seems that with the growing number of midfielders at the club though, we’ll have to shed some of our load.
That is a no brainer of course. You don’t need a crystal ball, the media or John Collins to tell you that.
What fans are also talking about is “who is for the exit door?” At this stage you can only speculate.
Almost every Celtic midfielder right now, has a valid reason for wanting to go or for the club moving them on. It’s a lottery to be quite honest and its anyone’s guess who is for the chop.
After a dire season for him so far, Stefan Johansen is top of some lists. Come the summer he will have been at the club for two-and-a-half seasons and with only one of those seasons being poor (the current one), it would seem rather harsh to sell him based upon that.
Nir Bitton, one of Celtic’s best players has a long-term deal (not that, that stands for anything at Celtic) but he is probably our most profitable midfielder right now. For that reason, it would not surprise me if Celtic tried to cash in on that this summer.
Recently back from long-term injury is Charlie Mulgrew. Now I am a fan of Charlie, but because his deal is due to run out, questions have been raised over his future but with his versatility, relatively low salary and an influential Scottish player, I doubt Celtic would let him go.
Tom Rogić, a player I never thought would wear the Hoops ever again, has been a revelation this season. Even though Europe was a major let down for the club and the domestic scene has been a real slog, Tom has been a stand out performer for me and his Celtic future should be a priority.
Kris Commons has ben on the sidelines recently with injury and illness. He has weighed in with 9 goals overall this season but at the age of 32 and not always a first pick for Ronny Deila, he could be moved on.
It would be a great shame to part with such a gifted player. Last season he was well out of the picture at one point but he still massed 16 goals in all competitions.
I think his experience is undervalued at times, especially for big games. Personally, I would be looking to retain his services as one of the club’s most experienced players but with inflated numbers at the club, he could be on wrong end of the decision making.
Out on the wide areas there are a few players vying for similar positions. James Forrest, Callum McGregor and Gary Mackay-Steven have all seen action this season but Celtic cannot possibly sustain all three, particularly when they have just drafted in Patrick Roberts on loan until the end of next season.
When on his game, Forrest is a nightmare for defenders. He can add goals as much as an assist but he is often let down by injury.
McGregor got his chance under Ronny Deila last season and repaid him immediately with a goal on his debut in Europe. As that season wore on, he faded out of the picture and after getting injured has made it back into the fold this season.
He appears to be one of Ronny Deila’s favourites. In fairness to McGregor, he has made a fair contribution recently as well.
Mackay-Steven has also been out of the picture but he came back onto the scene recently as well. He too has goals in him and plays in a wide area but can support the front man as well.
In this area though, something has to give. And there are other players possibly looking at summer exits.
Efe Ambrose is far from having a CSC named after him (or does he have one already)t. With the defence already beginning to take shape without him, he could be on his way out.
Tyler Blackett is most likely going to return to Manchester United. He hasn’t impressed at all, though to be fair I think he was out of his depth to begin with.
Stefan Šćepović, currently out on loan at Getafe, may not even return to Celtic. Having signed on deadline day two summers ago, he has failed to hit the heights in Scotland.
I thought he had a good chance this season to prove himself but was sent out on loan instead. Whether that was his desire or Deila’s desire, I can’t see Celtic bringing him back again.
Also out on loan is Anthony Stokes. Despite what any fan thinks of his playing ability, good or bad, it would appear it is his off the field issues that are the problem.
There is not doubt that the player has talent but his time is almost certainly up. I am fairly certain Celtic will move him on this summer.
A question mark remains over Nadir Çiftçi though. He got the nod in Europe early on in the season mainly because he had a domestic ban and couldn’t play in the league.
In half a season he hasn’t looked anywhere near doing a job. Will he come back?
I think he probably will. Whether he ever makes it at Celtic though remains in doubt.
Last but not least is Derk Boerrigter. And that’s all I have to say about him.
Good luck to the Hoops today, whoever manages to get a game! Time to open up that lead at the of the Scottish Premiership.