The revolution will not be celebrated

You will not be able to stay in your seat, Bhoy
You will not be able to stand up, wave your fist and enjoy your victory
You will not be able to lose yourself on trebles and zombieskelping
Skip out for beer during half-time
Because the revolution will not be celebrated

The revolution will not be celebrated

The revolution will not be brought to you by Ibrox
In two halves without commercial interruption
The revolution will not show you pictures of Dave King
Blowing his own trumpet and leading an AGM with Stewart Robertson
Steven Gerrard and Gary McAllister to eat
Humble pie left by Brendan Rodgers’ trebles

The revolution will not be celebrated

The revolution will be brought to you by the Sky Sports and
will not star Chris Sutton and John Hartson or Eilidh Barbour and Darrell Currie
The revolution will not give you a red card appeal
The revolution will not get rid of you being the best
The revolution will not make you look five millions pounds
better, because The revolution will not be celebrated, Bhoy
There will be no pictures of you and Jock Stein
Holding the European Cup on an open top bus
Or trying to slide that jumbotron into a supporters bus
SMSM will not predict the league winner correctly or the players to watch next season

The revolution will not be celebrated

There will be no pictures of Police Scotland manhandling
Hoops in an instant replay
There will be no pictures of Celtic fans being
Stewarded out of Celtic Park effectively following a new process
There will be no coverage of
Rod Stewart singing Grace on the Chris Evans Breakfast Show in a
Green and white hooped jumpsuit that he had been saving
For just the right occasion
Wes Foderingham, Lee Wallace and
Graham Dorrans will no longer be so damned relevant
and Tims will not care if anyone at Ibrox finally gets capped for Scotland for the first time because Bhoys
will be in the street celebrating another treble

The revolution will not be celebrated

There will be no decent highlights on Sportscene
and no pictures of foodbank collections outside Celtic Park and
Dermot Desmond blowing his nose
The theme song will not be written by Jay Z, Paulo Nutini
nor sung by Bobby Gillespie, Snoop Dogg,
Noel Gallagher, or The View

The revolution will not be celebrated

The revolution will not be right back after a memo
Revealed by the D**** R***** from Police Scotland about Celtic player’s behaviour
You will not have to worry about laps of honour in your own stadium
Hoopy the Huddle Hound on matchdays, or Gerry McCulloch Tweeting #onlyinscotland
The revolution will not go better with Coke
The revolution will not fight the germs that cause sectrarianism
The revolution WILL put you in the driving seat forever
The revolution will not be celebrated
WILL not be celebrated, WILL NOT BE CELEBRATED
The revolution will be no re-run Bhoys
The revolution will be live

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

With special thanks to Gil Scott-Heron (son of Celtic’s Gil Heron)

Must win in Norway

Celtic swaggered back onto the domestic scene last Saturday with a convincing victory over Hamilton. After a two-week international break, the Bhoys put three goals past the Accies on their own (artificial) turf.

James Forrest has hugged the headlines for club and country recently, but it was the Ryan Christie who continued is amazing form for the Hoops. He scored the opening goal after a training ground corner, something that Chris Sutton slammed Hamilton for.

You don’t get something for nothing when it comes to the former Celtic striker. And yet that was what Celtic got next.

Celtic’s second goal came in the second half when Hamilton’s Scott Martin flicked in a Scott Sinclair header to make it 0-2 to Celtic. With Sinclair’s luck it might not have gone in but we’re all happy to accept that gift.

Perhaps the best moment was when Leigh Griffiths took to the field in the 75th minute. He has been missed by the fans and seven minutes after his arrival, he drilled home a low free kick to complete Hamilton’s misery.

Accies were lucky it wasn’t more. They’d already got away with a stonewall hand ball in the box during the first half which should have been a penalty.

Celtic also missed a barrel load of chances by Odsonne Edouard, Olivier Ntcham and of course Scott Sinclair. It was a solid victory though on return to domestic matters.

Tomorrow night it is back to Europa League duty and an away trip to face the Norwegian Champions. There aren’t many teams Celtic have faced in Europe more than they have Rosenborg.

This will also be the fourth time they have played each other in the same season. Having eliminated Rini Coolen’s side in the Champions League qualifiers, they were grouped once together in Group B for the Europa League following Celtic’s exit from the Champions League qualifiers.

Celtic have won both home games so far, but last time they were at the Lerkandal it was 0-0. Realistically, Brendan Rodgers needs a victory in Norway.

Leipzig and Celtic are on the same points. If the group stage was to end like that then Leipzig would go through to the last 32 based on goal difference between both teams’ games against each other.

The best ideal scenario for Celtic tomorrow would be to beat Rosenborg and for Salzburg to beat Leipzig. In a fortnight, I would firmly expect Leipzig to beat Rosenborg in Germany so that would mean Celtic would need to get something from their final match against Salzburg at Celtic Park be it a win or a draw.

If Salzburg do beat Leipzig then they may not be as fired up for the last game having secured the winners spot. This is all ifs and buts and Celtic have to take it one game at a time.

For now, they are still in with a chance of qualification. Both games are in their hands but they need the Germans to slip up as well.

Brendan Rodgers will know who is going to be playing in this match. Players are returning from injury at a crucial time as the fixtures begin to pile up.

Let’s hope that after tomorrow night we are looking towards the final group stage match in two weeks time still in with a chance of a place in the last 32.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

Signing on the line

Since Brendan Rodgers came to Celtic, he has seen several Celtic players renew or extend their contracts at the club. His stature, as well as his man management, have all played a role in that.

James Forrest, Tom Rogic, Callum McGregor, Kieran Tierney, Kristoffer Ajer, Leigh Griffiths, Olivier Ntcham and now Ryan Christie have all signed new deals since the Northern Irishman arrived in May 2016. You cannot argue with any of those players being rewarded for their application and effort in that time.

Brendan and his back room staff have helped improve the team he inherited. The players have also had to put the hard work in though.

What fans will be wondering is are any other players in line to get a new deal? I’ve mentioned many times before those who are out of contract at the end of this season and they are the bunch we turn our attention to.

Ryan Christie is the first to chalk his name off that list. He is a superb example of just how things can turn around for you if you get an opportunity.

Sections of our support wrote-off Christie a long time ago. Some (such as myself) never really thought he was given a good enough chance by Ronny Deila or Brendan Rodgers to hold that opinion.

His loan spell at Aberdeen demonstrated just how much of an asset he could be. As a standout performer for the Dons and the Scottish Premiership last season perhaps the timing was just right for him this season.

Circumstances, such as Stuart Armstrong’s departure and missing out on John McGinn have worked out well for him and Celtic. They already had such a player waiting in the wings.

Many of us already thought he deserved a chance. In fact some may feel the same about Scott Allan though I cannot see the ex-Hibs midfielder experiencing the same luck.

He has never kicked a competitive ball under Brendan Rodgers. Whilst out on loan, he has proven his worth to Dundee and latterly, Hibs, but he remained at Celtic.

I firmly expected to see him sold in the summer transfer window. It has been suggested that the breakdown in negotiations between Hibs and Celtic over McGinn put paid to a move back to the club Celtic plucked him from.

With his contract due to expire at the end of the season and no competitive first team appearances to his name, he will be gone next summer if not before. That still leaves a couple of other players to talk about.

The one many have been talking about is Dedryck Boyata. His mid-summer drama now appears to be water under the bridge.

Brendan himself stated that the player had admitted his mistake and was ready to move on. Since he reappeared in the Hoops his presence has been both influential and necessary.

With all that negativity around a supposed summer exit, many are wondering will he stay or will he go? Under the cloud he created for himself after the World Cup, it would have been impossible to offer him a new deal then.

I don’t think the board, manager or fans would have been receptive to that never mind the player. Now, we could be looking at a different scenario before the end of the season.

The possibility of him now leaving in January would be unlikely unless both parties were offered a good deal. Even then he could be too much of an asset in the current campaign to cash in especially if Celtic are battling for a third treble and still in Europe after Christmas.

I think many of us would agree that we would rather retain his services for the rest of the season and lose him for free next summer than cash in on him now for pennies. There is also still the remote possibility that he could be tempted by an extended stay on better terms but that remains to be seen.

And what of Scott Brown? Is our club captain going to stay on another year or two or move on to a player-coach role somewhere else?

Only Broony and the club know that and there’s been little mention of it. I’m sure we would all love him to stay though equally he has the right to make the move he wants after devoting most of his career to Celtic.

By the time next season comes, he will be 34 years old. There is much for him to think about in terms of his fitness, future career options and of course ten-in-a-row.

Mikael Lustig has been a huge contributor to Celtic since he joined nearly seven years ago. With over 250 games to his name over 70 caps for his country, will he be in Brendan’s plans beyond this season?

Next month the Swede turns 32 so is a little bit younger than his captain. I don’t undervalue his contribution even though he is prone to having nightmare performances.

He is vice-captain and with the amount of games he is sustaining injury free, I can see him being offered another year or two at the club. The player himself said he expects to be here next year.

It is clear thait Lustig loves life at Celtic and is influential within the dressing room. That alone can be of great value to a growing team.

What it doesn’t resolve is our long-term right back issue. Nor has the presence of Cristian Gamboa who is also out of contract in the summer.

The Costa Rican full back has played less than 30 games for the club in the space of nearly two-and-a-half seasons. He’s made some high-profile appearances in the Hoops only to disappear once more.

Just when you think you might see what he has got, he fades into the shadows again. On that basis alone, I can’t see him getting a new deal and would much rather Celtic sourced a long-term candidate for Lustig to oversee.

Emilio Izaguirre returned in the summer as backup to Kieran Tierney. He has played three matches in total and the perfect candidate to step in if required.

Is it possible he could stay on beyond this season as backup? Well he’ll be 34 going into a new campaign and for another year, I don’t see why not.

That only leaves Dorus de Vries who will end his contract having not played since March 2018. After that game he picked up an injury and allowed new Bhoy Scott Bain to move into second spot.

So the writing is on the wall for the goalkeeper who turns 38 next month and to be fair, Celtic don’t need three senior goalkeepers. We have sufficient cover for the time being without need of his services.

Celtic may also begin to think about moving on players who are still under contract to make way for new blood. January could be an opportunity for out of the picture players like Scott Allan, Marvin Compper, Dorus de Vries and Kundai Benyu to go on loan or move permanently as they don’t appear to have a part to play.

The team will need strengthening as we increase our bid for another treble and prepare for the season that follows. Time to make some more room.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

Tough at the top

Celtic reclaimed top spot in the Scottish Premiership after a feisty meeting with Livingston on Sunday lunchtime. There were no goals in this game, but enough meat on the bones to get your teeth into.

It was a very physical match. Some of the challenges might suggest a bit too physical at times by the home side.

When Celtic get into their stride, getting physical with them is sometimes the only answer an opponent has. Livingston gave a very good account of themselves, but they also got away with a few incidents.

Dedryck Boyata had a few challenges come his way. Mikael Lustig was another.

Perhaps the most significant incident was the headbutt Dolly Menga placed on Ryan Christie during a corner. A replay of the incident clearly shows the Livingston player make deliberate and significant contact.

By the letter of the laws of the game, it is violent conduct. There is no area of doubt whatsoever.

Whatever the SFA decide to do it should be a lengthy ban. Credit should also be awarded to Christie for not making a meal of it.

Menga was not short of putting himself about in that game. Although the BBC’s Brian McLauchlin chose to credit the Angolan as being “more like a £9M striker than Odsonne Edouard” on this game’s evidence.

I wonder, Brian, was it a £9M pound headbutt as well? Be sure to include that in your next article please.

Another unfortunate incident was the injury to Kris Ajer. The young Norwegian retook his place in defence at the expense of Filip Benkovic.

He continued his fine form as a ball playing central defender right up to the point he got a knock to his face. The result appears to be a broken eye socket which will require surgery and a lengthy lay off.

It’s another blow for Celtic on the injury front, but one they must soak up. As we have seen over the recent weeks, we require everyone to dig deep and apply themselves.

I want to give credit to Livingston for putting up a good fight but they were also being overly physical. Celtic may have been a bit battle weary from Thursday’s encounter with Leipzig, but the main thing was we didn’t lose this one and it has taken us to the top of the league for the first time this season.

Now we have a challenge to remain there no matter what problems we may face along the way. I’m sure that game at hand will come in handy as well.

All about being at the top.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

Top gear

Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am still buzzing from Thursday night. We invest a lot as football supporters and for passionate Celtic supporters we probably go that bit further.

The team’s physical and spiritual transformation in recent weeks allowed us to get that result against Leipzig. This could be the making of Celtic’s season.

Players are evolving into strong or stronger characters. Taking their place as key contributors in this squad.

There is a shift within the team which is beginning reshape the way we look and feel altogether. A team without Scott Brown as the anchor man was unthinkable.

Since he got injured, enforced changes have been a blessing of sorts. The club captain is an important figure in this side and with the fans.

The rest of the team has shown that they can perform without him. Even though he is in the final year of his current contract, I don’t think that necessarily spells the end of Broony.

It is encouraging though that we are beginning to see the talent in this squad shine. Callum McGregor, James Forrest, Kieran Tierney, Filip Benkovic, Kris Ajer, Tom Rogic, Odsonne Edouard, Oliver Ntcham and now Ryan Christie have all been exceptional under Brendan Rodgers this season.

Benkovic aside, all of these guys have long-term futures at the club, with Ntcham the latest to pen a new deal. Christie could well be the next to agree new terms, following his recent rise in popularity.

I also hope to see more of Lewis Morgan. He looks to be a sound investment and could have a key part to play as the season progresses.

Of course, Brendan will still be counting on the contribution of maturer players in the team. They have as big a part to play, but the future is bright with the young talent we have at our disposal.

And so onto today’s lunchtime meeting with Livingston. The West Lothian club started off this campaign strongly, but their form has taken a bit of a battering of late, losing their last two games.

What won’t help them today is that Celtic’s form of late has been devastating. They lost the first game of the season 3-1 at Celtic Park and defeat today be three straight losses.

Despite having dropped to 8th in the league, they are still only 8 points off the top spot with two games at hand over Hearts. So there is an incentive for them to claw themselves back up the league again.

The incentive for Celtic is not only about maintain their own form. A win today (or a draw for that matter) would put them back on top of the league.

Hearts lost at home to Kilmarnock yesterday and now have the same form (2 wins, 2 defeats, 1 draw) in their last five games as Livingston. Should Celtic get the right result today and retake their place at the top of the Scottish Premiership, I don’t expect to see the Hoops shift.

Celtic are firing on all cylinders right now and the momentum is building. Nobody will want to give up their place in the team whilst others will be champing at the bit to be involved.

This is a good period for Celtic. You can feel the difference.

Long may it continue. Next stop, Almondvale Stadium.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

Belief…

Last night, Celtic had to shine. And shine they did.

They didn’t have it all their way of course. Progress comes in stages.

Celtic had to weather the Leipzig storm on more than one occasion. This was, to a certain extent, the making of the Hoops though.

Having been pressed by the visitors for the opening 10 minutes, Celtic responded by scoring the opening goal in the 11th minute. And in the 78th minute Celtic conceded an equaliser only to go up the other end of the park and score the winner in the 79th minute.

This was a demonstration of character, determination with mental and physical strength at the heart of everything they did. Apparently this is a weaker Celtic team than last season.

Right now I’d say this group of players are showing attributes of a strong Celtic side. Last night they rose to the challenge.

Kieran Tierney scored the opening goal which was a key part in him winning man-of-the-match. However, Callum McGregor was a phenomenal presence, covering every blade of grass and was perhaps every bit as good if not better.

Leipzig found the net themselves much later on. A perfectly weighted cross was poorly defended by Mikael Lustig, a constant weak link on the night, and was hammered home by Jean-Kevin Augustin.

As was evident throughout this match, Celtic were not dead. 15 seconds after the restart, Celtic put together a passing move from the centre spot which resulted in a match winner, courtesy of Odsonne Edouard.

It was a euphoric moment. Celtic never seem to bounce back from these type of setbacks, but they did last night.

Even when Leipzig later slapped the woodwork the team dug deep. The belief we saw from the Hoops was encouraging and rewarding.

Celtic’s only weak links came in the form of vice-captain Lustig and Scott Sinclair. Sinclair didn’t start to badly, but as pointed out by a friend, Sinclair goes into his shell when something goes wrong for him and he did.

Lustig’s performance was somewhat different. He was getting roasted down Leipzig’s left flank and failed to cope with everything that came his way.

Next season Celtic will have to invest in that area. It is unlikely the Swede will be given a new contract or at least one that means regular football.

Elsewhere on the field every player was tireless. This was exactly what we needed from the team.

Ryan Christie continued to impress un central midfield. He even outshone Tom Rogic on the night with his work rate.

James Forrest ran himself into the ground. Craig Gordon was dominant behind his defence which, Lustig aside, was convincing.

Odsonne Edouard grew into the game after a slow start. He just got better and better and capped things off with that winner.

The players should be proud of themselves. We now have a fighting chance of qualifying for the last 32.

There is still much work to be done in the remaining two matches. However, had we not won last night the party would be over.

This was a point Brendan Rodgers tried to batter home to BBC’s Jonathan Sutherland. The Sportscene presenter chose to reflect on the negative instead.

It was Celtic’s night though and they should enjoy the moment. They rose to the challenge and got the result.

We build on that and face the next task. Away to Livingston at lunchtime on Sunday.

Well done Bhoys.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

Shine…

Now is the time for Celtic to shine in Europe under Brendan Rodgers. The majority of this team have had plenty of high-profile European matches under their belt now.

That sort of exposure counts as experience. Others know the continental game because well, that is where they are from.

So what is holding us back? Self belief? Confidence? Communication? Tactics? Quality?

Probably a bit of everything and a different times. Right now though, Celtic are playing well, domestically at least.

To perform on the bigger stage requires more. More from everyone involved.

It isn’t simply about spending money on the best players out there. It is about developing your own talent and creating a team that can execute orders together.

Just because Callum McGregor was born, raised and developed as a player in Scotland doesn’t mean he isn’t as good as someone at Barcelona, Juventus or Bayern Munich. It only means a player in one of those teams benefited from the system of development in that country and club.

In fact I would argue that our versatile midfielder would be comfortable in any of those teams mentioned. The point I am trying to make is that we often mention that it is the gulf in finances that holds us back.

Certainly, that is the conclusion with some clubs, but not all of them. Are Leipzig and Salzburg really that much better than Celtic?

Is it really impossible to beat these teams? I’m not buying that.

When we play the cream of Europe – and I mean the “cream” – then I recognise the gulf. When you are playing a team who undoubtedly have the best players money can buy then the odds are stacked against you.

We’ve played the best in recent years and been put to the sword. But we’re not playing the best in this group nor did we exit the Champions League at the hands of the best.

Celtic have lost those matches because they didn’t play well enough. There is little wrong with the talent we have right now.

Leipzig paid close to £40M on three players during the summer. We spent less than a quarter of that on one player for the first time in our history.

That demonstration of spending power comes from investment or reinvestment. You can only put in what you are hopeful of getting back and to be honest, Leipzig sold Naby Keita to Liverpool for over £50M so they aren’t necessarily richer.

Celtic are still developing as a club in this type of market by buying “cheap” to sell on for more. Scotland is a hard sell to overseas players, but we are fortunate enough to tick a lot of boxes for players looking to develop their careers.

For Celtic to get anything out of the Odsonne Edouard purchase, he has to score in big games and help the team progress. He has done wel thus far, but he has more to do before he becomes a profitable player.

One day he is sure to make way for the next star, the way Moussa Dembele has for him. That is our market.

To get back to the main point though – money. More money can increase your options, but it doesn’t always buy success.

By comparison our Europa League group leaders, Salzburg, spent just over £10M this summer. In return they received almost £50M in sales.

So are these clubs richer than Celtic? Or is it just a better market place in Austria and Germany?

For clubs like Salzburg and Leipzig they are not too different from Celtic. They buy to sell and generate some of their income that way though domestic TV revenue is better.

Potentially, Celtic are a bigger club but we are confined by the league standard and domestic TV revenue. We make our own major income through merchandise, season tickets, players resales and European TV money.

On our day we can still beat teams in Europe. When we do not it isn’t necessarily because we aren’t spending the same sort of money.

Yes, you need the right personnel, but it is also about belief in your abilities. That must come from every player and coach at the club.

Martin O’Neill once said his Celtic team were punching above their weight. He was right about that to a certain degree, but he also had one of the best Celtic teams in history.

It is not out with the realms of possibility for this Celtic squad to go further. The evidence is there, but every single player needs to have the confidence, belief and conviction with everything that they do.

To be blown away by the likes of Barcelona and PSG in the last two seasons was tough especially when you are trying to progress as a team under new management. Those were setbacks however, we are not playing those teams right now.

Celtic Park is our turf and it is time to shine at home. It is time to believe in ourselves and our ability to win.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac