Davies joins Rodgers at Celtic – Kennedy to follow?

With Chris Davies appointed as assistant manager to Brendan Rodgers, the coaching team is beginning to take shape. Davies was Rodgers’ assistant at Swansea and Liverpool so the partnership is an established and familiar one.

Both men have had strikingly similar career paths as well. Each retired as youth players through injury and each entered coaching at a young age.

For Brendan, it was Tommy Burns who gave him his opportunity to coach after retiring at the age of 20. For Chris, it was Brendan who gave him his opportunity to coach at Swansea some years after retiring at the age of 19.

The two obioviously knew each other from Reading, where both men’s professional playing careers had ended. It seems Reading is the key link in this affiliation, both having managed the academy but they each gained experience in coaching at other clubs as well.

I now wonder if John Kennedy may be given the chance to return to the fold as a first team coach. He too suffered a career ending injury, albeit after a long and protracted recovery attempt.

That eventually ground to a halt and Kennedy was never the same player. However, he has remained at the club since then, first as scout and then in a coaching capacity.

He knows the current squad from working under Ronny Deila in the first team and would be a useful addition to new coaching team. There is no doubt he can learn as much as he can offer and would enable a smooth transition for first team matters, particularly with things moving so quickly.

It may well be that Kennedy is not required for first team matters. However, Brendan mentioned him in his press conference on Monday so I expect he will provide the management team with some up-to-date insight.

Welcome to the club Chris.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

I like what I hear

Evolution seems to be at the forefront of Ronny Deila’s philosophy. Less than a year ago, many were willing to go all “Le Guen” on him.

We saw how the French revolution turned out at Oldco. At Celtic, I like the Norwegian approach and how that is turning out.

Celtic have tried things their way for a good few years. This new way forward excites me.

A smaller squad to accommodate the youth who are filtering through. Why weren’t we doing this sooner?

Tommy Burns was pursuing youth development in the mid-90’s. He got some backing but not the full backing he desired.

Today Ronny is getting that backing and I welcome it. Too many squad players on salaries they don’t deserve have drained the club for too long.

Give youth a chance and see just how good your investment is. Ronny is suggesting a suitable squad size is not far away from being achieved.

This is the way forward, particularly where youth development is concerned. The prospect of actually seeing young players getting the opportunity is long overdue.

Yes, we’ve seen the odd young player break onto the scene like Maloney, McGeady and more recently Forrest. That’s one player in every generation that makes it as a regular.

Personally, I’d like to see three or four youth players amongst the ranks regularly. There’s little point investing in youth if you just ship them out once they reach maturity.

Fortunately, Ronny has youth in mind and a squad size to allow those players to filter into the team. Again, this excites me.

All the managers Celtic have had for the last couple of decades have all built Celtic teams by buying players from England and the continent. This ever decreasing spending budget has seen the high spending of the Martin O’Neill days slide to the point where one of his biggest purchases, Neil Lennon, had little to spend when he eventually took the hot seat.

With Ronny Deila, there has been money to spend but Celtic cannot compete with the top clubs. Salaries as well as transfer fees leave Celtic well out of the game.

It was reported that players such as Steven Fletcher and Ikechi Anya were priced of the market for Celtic’s wage structure even if the transfer fees weren’t. Whether these moves were even on the cards doesn’t matter, the point is Celtic must get these kind of players before their wages become the issue.

So if there was ever a reason to utilise the youth you’ve invested in, it is this. Bring in the best, coach them for the first team, play them and pay them what you can afford.

If these players are looking for a bigger salary than Celtic can afford, they’ll need to prove themselves first before they can get those high end wages. At least the club should get something in return if they do move on, as well as having got the use of their services by actually giving them a chance.

In the past Celtic have had some mishaps with players such as Liam Miller who broke onto the scene only to show his true nature by jumping ship. Nobody would have predicted that a player who had been given tremendous support by the club through his injury hell and then given a regular place in the team would have carried out such disloyalty by leaving to join Manchester United for free.

Still, Miller got what he deserved which was a career without much success. I won’t hide my bitterness on this or lie when I say I enjoyed watching his career slide.

You cannot account for players like him, you just have to nurture them and give them a chance. If they choose to stab you in the back that’s out with your control.

More recently, an ill-advised Islam Feruz left Celtic for Chelsea. Again, Celtic were powerless in his move south but it is again another example of disloyalty you cannot account for.

Still, this should never deter you from nurturing young players. They are the lifeblood of the club and all want to make it even if some won’t but if you don’t give them chance you’ll never know.

I look forward to phase two of Ronny Deila’s plans for the team. Leaner, faster with more opportunity for youth.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

Once more unto the breach…

Forget about the origin of this blog’s title. This is quote is all about Celtic.

Last night Celtic were drafted into todays draw for the Champions League Group Stage. It is the second sucessive time Neil Lennon has achieved this during his management at the club.

I never got to see the first leg in Kazakhstan due to being in the Canadian wilderness for two weeks, but it was a shock to discover the score a day later in a local newspaper. I don’t think for one minute that Karagandy were underestimated but the defensive pairing from that match appeared to have supporters asking questions.

The job would have to be done at Celtic Park instead and whilst it was never a foregone conclusion that Celtic would overturn the deficit last night, they were dominant in their approach to do just that. If any Celtic supporter was like me, there would be a fair amount of prematch anxiety about the biggest game of the season to date.

The set up seemed just about right though initially I felt Mulgrew may have been better placed in the middle of defence. That opinion was proved wrong as his personal performance, as well as the whole of the defence, stood firm.

The only issue that had our hearts in our mouths was that Karagandy throw which nobody dealt with and crashed off the bar when the tie was level. From what I hear, long throws were an issue in the first leg for Celtic.

The team selection was pretty much spot on last night. The only two below par performances were those of James Forrest and Joe Ledley in the first half.

Forrest was getting no joy on the left, mainly down to his first touch. Late on in the first half, Lennon moved him to the opposite wing.

That proved fortuitous as he gave the Karagandy defence a tough time. For Ledley, it was merely a case of ‘get your act together’ which he eventually did.

He’s usually Mr Reliable for Celtic but it took him 45 minutes to wake up. I’m more than happy as supporter that he did because right now Lennon lacks midfield steel.

A goal minutes before half time and a minutes after were timely, something which Pat Bonner accurately highlighted on SSN last night. Its always good to end the first half on a high and start the second with the same reward.

It has to be said though, I had more lager in the fridge for extra time. Thankfully, my jet lag was saved in the minutes before the final whistle.

After a stunning goal by Kris Commons and a deserved goal by Georgios Samaras, time was ticking. The timing of the winning goal could not have been better.

James Forrest, whose first half performance was now a distant memory, got the goal which sealed the deal. It was a finish that had the support going mental but it was the footwork of Anthony Stokes that was mesmerising.

The match may not have been over at that point but the celebrations were reminiscent of those in 2007 when Celtic beat Spartak Moscow in penalties to qualify for the same stage of the Champions League. A spine tingling celebration memorable for the late Tommy Burns’ aerial dive onto the pile of Celtic players on the turf.

Regardless of how this tie was viewed beforehand, it has to be said that Karagandy set themselves up well enough to cause an upset. They were tight at the back and good on the break but I will save my main assement for their goalkeeper.

Some of Aleksandr Mokin’s saves were frustrating for the support. The most notable of his characteristics were the acrobatics involved.

Its been some time since I’ve seen a flamboyant goalkeeper perform over the top saves. These are usually confined to goalkeepers in previous decades (or if you’re an Italian keeper).

Despite all that, he kept Karagandy in the match based on those saves. He did his job, albeit with a desire for the flair.

In a couple of hours from now, Celtic will be drawn against three teams all seeded above them. It will be a tough ask whoever they get.

Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund are potentisl opponentd currently on the lips of the Celtic supporters. Other than these clubs, I would love to see one of the English clubs in there as well.

Neil Lennon is rebuilding his squad and will be looking to secure a couple of players ahead of the transfer deadline. Celtic will need to be better equipped for this phase, especially if they aim to make it to the last sixteen or even parachute into the Europa Cup.

An influential midfielder and a dedicated hitman are important. Since the departure of Hooper and Wanyama, their positions have more often than not, been referred to by their names and not by the position.

That just goes to show how important those roles are for Lennon. Despite the income from those transfers, Celtic will remain prudent in their approach to sign replacements.

One player awaits a medical and another still top of the list. If these guys are the men to fill the spaces vacated the. We can only hope their signatures are secured before the transfer deadline.

Well done Bhoys for giving us another memorbale night. Passports at the ready.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie