Reasons to be cheerful

Celtic have sold a number of players for substantial money over the years. A trend we have learned to familiarise ourselves with as supporters of our club.

So now, when a player reaches a certain point in their Celtic career, we know it is inevitable that they will likely move on. It is the reality of the situation that a club as big as Celtic find themselves in due to constraints of the domestic setup they exist within.

Even with that expectation, Celtic can offer more to a prospective talent than other Scottish clubs. They can also do this whilst operating within their financial means.

Be it nurtured talent or the kind procured from other teams, leagues and countries, there is a platform of opportunity, progression and success at Celtic. Our club has served as a career path that has satisfied guys like Scott Brown and James Forrest, but we accept that some will utilise us as a conduit to England and beyond.

We can’t hold players against their will however much we provide them with. However, some have jumped ship when the timing or opportunity hasn’t been right for them like Liam Miller or Gary Hooper.

That is not to say that Celtic haven’t cashed in when it suited them more than it did the player, such as Aiden McGeady. We must be mindful of that, but it is also very much part of the game.

There’s a lot to be positive about despite the players the club could lose in any of the two transfer windows each year. With Kieran Tierney being a huge loss this summer, there are plenty of examples of why we have a good future to enjoy.

On the whole, Celtic have a very good squad. We’ve recruited some senior and junior players.

To allow the team to evolve, some players will depart. We can speculate about Scott Sinclair, Olivier Ntcham or even Jozo Simunovic but the reality is we do not know how things will shape up in these remaining weeks of the transfer window.

What we do know is that there will be further movement. I don’t expect we’ll get everything right, but I think we’ll get a few more changes before the end of August.

Even though many of us weren’t overly keen on Neil Lennon taking the permanent role again, I’ve been pleased by what he’s done thus far. I’ve never stopped liking Neil and when he was at Hibs, I even discussed in my own circles that I’d like to see him back at Celtic one day.

Like Neil, I never thought it would be this soon, but there you go. Perhaps this is the right time.

He’s beginning to put his own emphasis on the gameplay unlike when he took over in February. An obvious factor that many fans overlooked and gave him pelters for.

His style is very different to his predecessor’s and he has an interest in developing young talent and a genuine love for the club. We have some exciting young players already making their way in the senior team and some increasing their game time under Neil.

Others will follow, but I think it is incredibly significant that I can get just as excited about our youth players as I do those who we bought from elsehwere. I recall an era when Celtic just weren’t producing the goods from our younger ranks.

I think our talent flow has be pretty steady and is beginning to create a system of belief because the opportunity to play is realistic. James Forrest was unleashed by Neil Lennon during his first spell and before he left, Callum McGregor was sent out on a very successful loan spell at Notts County which paved the way for a role in the Celtic first team upon his return to Glasgow under Ronny Deila.

Liam Henderson was another player who was given his first chance under Neil Lennon. I was actually disappointed that the club saw fit to move him on to Italy.

Darnell Fisher was another young player I thought demonstrated some good potential. He found himself surplus to requirements though under Lennon’s successors.

Tierney is one who we’ll forever remember has one of our brightest talents of the 21st century and despite never having being introduced to the first team by Neil, he is a fine example of what the club have produced. He’s been in great company too with other guys like Mikey Johnston and Ewan Henderson making their way into the Hoops.

There are of course others who may or may not pin down a first team place as others have such as Anthony Ralston, Jack Aitchison or Conor Hazard. There is plenty to sing about though with the likes of Karamoko Dembele on the books.

These are just the players that we know about and under the correct leadership we will see more talent getting blooded and I think Neil Lennon is the right guy to do that. He will still buy players to step straight into the team, but he won’t ignore good prospects either.

The array of talent at his disposal right now is very encouraging and we’re seeing guys like Kris Ajer and Lewis Morgan impose themselves in the managers plans. Our newest players will need more time to settle into life in Glasgow, but I think we are heading in the right direction under Neil Lennon.

He’s already coming across as a more mature manager in his second spell as manager. The football is good to watch and results have been positive so far.

There is of course work to be done over a period of time. I’m optimistic about the future though and the efforts I’ve seen so far.

This evening Celtic have Cluj to contend with in Glasgow. It’s a huge game for both sides and at 1-1 from the first leg, very much a tie that hangs in the balance.

Cluj head coach Dan Petrescu has reportedly been at the mind games in the build up. How much of that has been misinterpreted or exaggerated isn’t a concern for me.

Neil Lennon knows what needs to be done here. He’ll have a game plan and no matter what Petrescu has or hasn’t said doesn’t matter.

Our manager will want a home victory and possibly even a clean sheet. It was a tricky game in Romania, but Celtic came back with a decent result.

The hard work is far from over though. I think Cluj will play the same way so it is Celtic who will have to impose themselves more.

Years ago I’d have been wary of going up against a European opponent with such a young side. However, we have a team of believers right now.

Last year I wouldn’t have even suggested playing Mikey Johnston in a match like this. Now, I’d have no qualms about using him in the starting lineup such is his ability to open up a defence.

The same goes for Kris Ajer. He is a colossus and can impose himself in games in the way that Johan Mjallby used to.

Even though these guys have things to learn, they can still do it on the big stage. That doesn’t mean they can’t learn and contribute at the same time.

We have a good blend in the squad right now of youth and experience. If we get through tonight’s game we may see more movement with the team.

Hail! Hail

Stevie Mac

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