Perhaps the player who was closest to making the Top 10 is Thomas Rogne. Despite being plagued by injuries yet again, he has played more games this season than he ever has at Celtic. After seeing him at his absolute best in the 2-0 victory at Ibrox last year, there were high expectations of Thomas this season to be a focal point of the Celtic defence and for the fans to finally see a dominating, no nonsense centre back playing every week.
Of course, not everything goes to plan. Injuries dictated that Thomas only play in 17 of the 38 league games this season, but enough games to remind us that he has a massive future at the club. Most fans would tell you that they would like to see Thomas start more games (if possible) and form a partnership with Charlie Mulgrew, but keeping consistently fit may be the Norwegian’s biggest battle just now.
Despite being at the club for three seasons, he still is only 21-years-old, which for a centre back is a pretty remarkable stat. Thomas Rogne won’t be leaving any time soon, and if he can show that he can stay fit and injury free, he may just be one of the first names in the Top 10 list next season.
Roll back 12 months and the top Ten 10 then is very different. Emilio Izaguirre and Beram Kayal, the number one and two respectively, had just finished a dazzling first season in Scotland, and were both linked to moves down south, to Manchester United no less. But if you come back to the present day, it shows you how times have changed and that football can spring up any surprise.
It was just rotten luck that Izaguirre, the player of the year last season, had broken his ankle and was effectively out for the season. A lot of Celtic’s play went through Emilio so it was a massive blow to everyone, and the fans soon saw the effect as the team went on a horrible period shortly after, with even Neil Lennon said himself he was close to resigning. Of course, this isn’t all down to his injury, but it certainly played a part.
Izzy was slowly brought back from what was a worse injury than first thought, and despite breaking his ankle this season, still played a modest 12 league games. There is no doubt that the remaining games he was involved in where mainly to get his confidence back, and we probably saw the Izzy of old in the 3-0 drubbing of Rangers at Parkhead last month.
With Neil Lennon tinkering with the 3-5-2/3-4-3/3-4-2-1 formations, this will no doubt bring the very best out of Izaguirre who has more onus to attack, and show the fans what they saw in him last season.
The same story can apply to Kayal too; had an excellent first season, starts to get some good form again and then is suddenly out for the season. It’s a little more complex than that, though; he was badly out of form (Like the rest of the team) during the bad patch in September and October, and looked a player that wasn’t interested in playing for the club.
Every player has his low points, and that couple of months could have been one of them for Beram (Like a lot of the squad during that time), but for every bad moment such as getting injured and missing half the season, a good thing can happen as his injury allowed Victor Wanyama to flourish in to a strong first team member.
Despite Beram’s injury, he still managed to play in 19 league games this season – only two less than the 21 he played in last season. Maybe if his injury happened at the start of the season then he would have been in the Top 10 for the second year running, but given how strong the Celtic midfield is now, he has a lot of work to do to not only get back in the Top 10, but to actually get his midfield place back.
As I just said, the Celtic midfield is incredibly strong, and probably the best midfield the club has had for years, which is why someone as talented as Ki Sung Yueng isn’t more of a starter than some of the others.
‘Dave’ Ki is a remarkably gifted footballer, who can ping a pass from either five or 55 yards away, and is probably is the best striker of the ball in Scotland. On paper then it’s quite puzzling to why he isn’t in the Top 10, and more so the focal point of Celtic’ attacking play.
Ki has been involved in most of Celtic’s league games this season, 30 to be exact, but if everyone is fit then most would have him starting on the bench. Which is a shame because he is a very good footballer, that good that he will probably be away sooner rather than later because really, in essence, he is an expensive luxury.
Celtic doesn’t need Ki as much as the club needs Joe Ledley, or Beram Kayal, or even Victor Wanyama to an extent. And given how much money the club could generate from the sale of Ki, I think it’s only inevitable that the ‘Korean Gerrard’ will be off to pastures new not before long.
Only Kris Commons knows what has happened to Kris Commons this season. Reaching number three in last year’s Top 10, Commons had an almost perfect five months last season when joining from Derby, scoring an incredible 11 goals in 14 league games. It was only natural then for fans to assume more of the same for the season ahead…
It was almost as if some super hero like power had been removed and the real Kris Commons had appeared; this overweight, poor player who was completely lacking of any confidence had shown up and showed the fans the most dramatic of changes.
Even now as the season has finished, one can only wonder to what exactly caused this transformation. It certainly wasn’t a physical bust up with Neil Lennon, as the papers and internet rumours were only too happy to report that was one of the reasons.
But, like the others mentioned, Kris has indeed turned a corner and been given a new lease of life in the past couple of months. Partly down to a new system, performances have drastically improved and despite having a relatively poor season overall, he has racked up 12 assists (Only one behind leader, Steve Davis) and one goal in 23 league appearances.
He might not have made the Top 10 this season, but I, like many others, expect Kris to continue his late run of form and get back to the Commons of old next season. Oh, and maybe don’t rant on Twitter about not being selected next season, just a thought.
Players like Paddy McCourt, Lukasz Zaluska, Glenn Loovens and Mikael Lustig had very little game time and have a difficult task of pushing their way in to the team. With some late arrivals and some just not good enough to get in to the first team, these are some of the guys who are at the back of many supporters minds come the end of the season.
Now we have players such as Mo Bangura, Cha Du-Ri, Kelvin Wilson and Pawe? Bro?ek who were so bad this season that they wouldn’t have even got a sympathy vote. Cha for his Euro antics, Wilson for his Rangers antics, Bangura for being the worst signing Lennon has ever made (Daryl Murphy included) and Bro?ek for just not playing, really: these players have made Celtic fans almost cry (A part from Bro?ek though, it’s not really his fault he NEVER played) many times this season and if the majority had their way, we won’t be seeing them again next season.
And finally, we have the new crop; players like Tony Watt, Dylan McGeouch, Filip Twardzik, Marcus Fraser, Rabiu Ibrahim and Andre Blackman have all played for Celtic at one point or another this season, and have left us with a feeling that the club has a bright future if we have young talent such as this at our disposal.
From Dylan McGeouch scoring the club’s goal of the season, to Tony Watt’s quick fire double to Marcus Fraser’s impressive debut against Rennes – the youths have more than made their impact this season and will be vying for more chances next season.
It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster season for Celtic, even if you are ignoring what’s going on in the other half of the city, but we came out of it as Champions and there is absolutely no doubt that the squad, not the team, will be that much stronger next season.
This is just the beginning…