With the League Cup now safely tucked up again in the Parkhead trophy room, Celtic are now almost half way through the current season. We thought now would be a good time for St Anthony and Michael (Saint Ant junior aged 13) to give their opinions on the Celtic team and how the players have fared during the season thus far…
What has been your highlight of the season so far ?
Saint. The Champions League is such a big priority for us these days so qualifying for the CL group stages will easily be one of the main highlights. There is also the great sense of relief when you qualify and the happy knowledge that there won’t be a host of Sunday league games after Europa League matches on Thursday nights. And we can’t hide from the financial aspect as the CL is such a big earner for us which is reckoned to be driving Celtic PLC to a £100m plus turnover for the first time.
Michael. Tough one to start with but probably the Anderlecht away game in the Champions League. I think it’s underestimated how impressive a 3-0 away victory in Europe is. Not to mention that it was against the Belgian champions.
What has been your favourite game of the season so far ?
S. For me it was the 5-0 win over Astana at Parkhead. Although we made heavy weather of it in the second leg we knew after that game that we had all but qualified for the group stages. I honestly think the weather played a huge part that night. Although the game was played in mid August it felt more like late October with low temperatures and the typical freezing Glasgow rain. The Kazakh players just didn’t look up for it and, happily, we took full advantage.
M. The 3-0 win at Pittodrie in October, undoubtedly the best football we have played this season, great to watch. Without forgetting the never ending laughs from Rangers’ results.
What has been your biggest disappointment so far ?
S. It has to be the two games against PSG. We have a proud European record going back to 1962 and the last couple of seasons have seen us lose by margins I could never have conceived any Celtic side would ever be beaten by. There was a feeling of lost pride after those games but also a sense of realisation that PSG are well out of our league not only financially but also on the field of play. It will be fascinating to see after the new year how far PSG progress in the knockout stages.
M. Olivier Ntcham. Even though there have been bright sparks I don’t feel that he has given us much, especially for the price tag. However, I think he could develop in the future and cement a place in the starting eleven. Seeing Pedro go is up there too.
Who has been Celtic’s best player this season and why ?
S. I don’t think we’ve had one particular player standing out but I would go for Scott Brown. Those close to me know that I was always an objective critic of Scott through the years and I think the progress he has made under Brendan Rodgers has been terrific. He has reached an impressive level of consistency and has matured into a wonderful leader for Celtic on and off the park. It’s now noticeable how badly we miss him when he is not playing.
M. Personally I think there have been two stand outs, the two being Scott Brown and Kieran Tierney. But I’d say Broony purely because of his consistency and there being something missing in the midfield when he isn’t playing.
Which player have you been most disappointed in so far ?
S. I’m a huge fan of Stuart Armstrong but he has been a pale shadow of the player he was last season. Perhaps the transfer speculation during the summer affected him more badly than we appreciated. I still expect him to come good and score a number of goals from midfield before the end of the season.
M. Without being too harsh, as he has scored his fair share, Scott Sinclair. I simply don’t feel that he has hit the form he was in last year.
Which SPL team has most impressed you this season ?
S. Hibernian. I saw their win at Ibrox early in the season online and they also came very close to breaking our unbeaten record in October. However, they still have the age old problem of getting results in big games but failing to beat the likes of Hamilton and Ross County, which must drive Neil Lennon mad.
M. Hibs. I feel that they have great players throughout the pitch and are a real unit. To be honest, they’re the only side I can think of with a structured game plan domestically.
Which opposition SPL player has most impressed you most and why ?
S. Although he can’t play against us I think that Ryan Christie has looked terrific for Aberdeen. My hope is that Brendan still has him in his plans and will bring him back after his loan deal is up, especially if Armstrong still has ambitions of moving down south. If Ryan wasn’t already a Celt I like to think we’d be banging on the door to get his signature.
M. Probably John McGinn who I strongly believe can become a great player in the future. He offers so much box to box.
Which position does Brendan Rodgers most need to strengthen in January ?
S.The obvious one is centre back. There are rumours of Simunevic and Boyata being unsettled so they could move on sooner rather than later. My hope is that Kristofer Afer will get a run in the team at some point. He reminds me of a young Johan Mjallby and it would be great if he could step up and replace either Jozo or Dedryck.
M. Really hard one. Even though I have faith in Boyata and Simunevic, they can both have their moments and can be prone to injury. Despite Biton and Ajer being able to do a job in Scotland, and Sviatchenko bursting to get a game, I feel that if we want to progress further in Europe down the years then we must improve in the centre back department.
If Celtic played in the EPL which position do you believe we would finish in ?
S. With the infrastructure, stadium and fan base that we have, I have no doubt we would survive in mid table in the EPL to begin with. Then with access to the TV money it would mean that we would now be able to retain our best players, so the likes of Wanyama, Van Dijk and Forster would mean instantly having a stronger team. On such a level playing field we’d be top six.
M. Big ‘if’. It’s really difficult to say, however when you see the likes of Swansea and West Brom on Match of the Day you begin to wonder. I’d be realistic and say bottom half but not close to the relegation battle.
What is your opinion on the new proposal for hotel/museum/cafe at Celtic Park ?
S. We seem to be making a few quid these days so there may never be a better time to do it. I believe it would be self sustaining. The museum would hopefully be state of the art and draw thousands of visitors every year. The hotel would not only be a benefit for us but also be an ideal facility for the athletes in the Emirates and the people who go there. A cafe is much needed attraction as there are no such facilities in the vicinity of the stadium, so hopefully that would be a popular addition as well.
M. An exciting prospect. Should we invest well it could be a tidy little earner for the club.