The domestic season is underway for Celtic and the Bhoys began with a solid win over Premiership new boys, Livingston. In the week leading up to the match their rookie manager Kenny Miller claimed to know Celtic “inside out” like some thinly veiled warning that a shock was coming.
As it turned out, Brendan Rodgers’ Hoops turned Livingston inside out. Despite Miller playing for most of the match, he was unable to influence matters for his new club.
The day itself was all about Celtic and unfurling another League Title Flag at Celtic Park. And club legend Danny McGrain was present to mark the moment.
Our former club captain and current club coach was honoured to be involved. With the pre-match ceremonies done it was match time and onto business.
Celtic wasted little time in taking the lead with a Tom Rogic header finding its way home in the 8th minute after a cross from the returning, Jonny Hayes. Odsonne Edouard finished from close range in the 26th minute after a Olivier Ntcham pass.
Ntcham then got his own reward by converting a penalty 5 minutes after the break. Callum McGregor was fouled inside the box and the resulting penalty finished off the visitors.
The injury time goal by the Lothian side was no more than a consolation. They couldn’t have wished for a worse team to face upon their return to the top flight than Celtic.
So a good start for the Double Treble Winners. Next up is of course AEK Athens in the Champions League Third Round qualifier.
Personnel options for Brendan Rodgers are increasing steadily by the week. For the Livingston match he had Jozo Simunovic and Jonny Hayes in the starting eleven whilst Leigh Griffiths made a substitute appearance.
He also started with Mikael Lustig who had made his first appearance of the season as a substitute last week against old club Rosenberg. It remains to be seen how close Dedryck Boyata is to returning, but we’re already looking at a stronger squad for the next two ties whether he makes it or not.
In terms of fitness and availability, things are beginning to improve for Brendan with Moussa Dembele, Marvin Compper and Lewis Morgan the only real absentees at present. However, there was one new injury concern.
Ntcham went over on his ankle at Celtic Park on Saturday. It wasn’t confirmed how bad it was in the aftermath of the match, but now appears as though he will be fit to face AEK on Wednesday.
On the transfer front there is a lot of talk. None of which clarifies any moves of course.
Be it positions that need to be bolstered or not, several names are being banded around. Some familiar, some new.
The John McGinn saga has cooled a little with none of Celtic’s bids being entertained by Hibs. Not that I think Celtic require his services this season, but I’ve made my feelings known on that already.
Jason Denayer’s name has surfaced once again. The Belgian stopper had a great loan spell in Glasgow, but he’s failed to break into the Manchester City team or make any of his loan deals permanent.
This is not uncommon for the many young, talented stars in waiting at City though. Celtic should know, they’ve been coming to Glasgow for years now.
Whatever relationship Celtic have with City, it’s served them pretty well. The latest deal rumoured to be taking place is that of Daniel Arzani.
The 17-year-old Australian international has been capped five times for his country and has now moved from Melbourne to Manchester. Melbourne City are of course owned by Manchester City, but this deal is said to involve the player going to Celtic on loan for up to two seasons with an option to buy at the end.
Now, I’m not completely baffled by the business world, but what kind of connections do Celtic have with City exactly? I’m not suggesting something iffy, but the deal does seem a little odd.
Manchester City buy the guy from a club they own, send him straight out on loan and potentially sell him without ever having trained with or worn their jersey. Are they just brokers in transfer deals now?
I’m well aware of the business interests in City and how wealthy those organisations are. What this deal is all about is way beyond the game of football though.
I mean do we even need this player? For Celtic to already be involved in the deal would suggest we have greater ties with the English Champions.
Samaras, Denayer, Guidetti, Roberts, Boyata, Ntcham and now Arzani. Is it all just a coincidence?
I know Celtic are also in the market of buying and selling, but rarely do they ever buy someone, loan them straight out and then sell them on. We’ve been seen to buy someone and loan them back to sweeten the deal, but not necessarily to sell on.
We know that we do invest in certain players knowing they will have a resale value after 1-3 years at the club. That’s our market and our way of capitalising on the revenue of English football.
There’s nothing sinister about it. We’re just an ideal club to perform as a weighing station for overseas players, bedding into the British game.
With European football to offer, a worldwide fan base, a great history and fabulous stadium what better gateway is there to the English game? Now it seems as though our transfer dealings are evolving.
Testing out another club’s players for them whilst benefiting from their game time. The only downside of course is that we won’t see the transfer fee if they are successful.
In the case of Arzani, even if we could afford what the fee might be, after two years of being a success, would he even want to stay at Celtic? Surely success in Glasgow would be his ticket back to England or the continent?
Patrick Roberts had a good spell at Celtic and despite the mutual friendship you would have thought any affordable deal would have been done by now. We’ve already shelled out on Edouard but I can’t see us going down the same road for Paddy.
Anyway, that’s another story altogether. Right now we have AEK Athens to focus on with our current squad come Wednesday.
If Celtic can navigate past the Greek champions they will face either Malmo of Sweden or Videoton of Hungary in the Champions League Play-Off round. Should they fail, then they’ll face either Spartaks Jurmala of Latvia or Suduva of Lithuania in the Europa League Play-Off.