The season is upon us and many things will be decided in the new campaign. Here’s a look at some of the things that we’ll discover in the coming months.
1.Will we lose any of our star players before the end of August ?
The vultures are circling for the likes of Tierney, Boyata and Dembele. Rumours will always abound and whilst we play in the small pool that is Scotland, that will always be a major problem. Make no mistake, Tierney leaving still remains a possibility even though things appear to have gone quiet on that front for the moment. Much will depend on Champions League qualification. If we fail then the board may choose to sacrifice a major asset to make up for loss of income. We have a balance sheet to look after you know.
2. Will we qualify for the Champions’ League group stages ?
This has never been an easy process and has become significantly harder after UEFA reduced the pleb numbers from 5 to 4. Truth is UEFA don’t want us or the likes of Dutch, Belgian or Scandinavian clubs in there. They would much rather have another English/Italian/Spanish/German side for TV revenue. I always rate our chances at 50/50. Maribor and Malmo still give us nightmares but the important thing is that we are seeded. Hopefully that will help us get through four rounds. By the end of August manager, players and fans will all be drained. July and August are the most important months of the season in many ways as the CL qualifiers define our season.
3. Will Celtic sign John McGinn ?
With one year left on his contract Hibs are playing a dodgy game of poker with a weak hand. Celtic have offered £1.5M which seems fair given the contract situation. These days transfer fees are more measured by the length of contract rather than on actual talent. Celtic’s ace card could be Scott Allan. £1.5M plus Allan should be enough to seal the deal and allow Hibs to keep face with a new player as part of the transfer. The other point to bear in mind is that John is apparently a big Celtic fan. That being the case then this should force Hibs’ hand.
4. Can anyone take over Paddy Roberts’ mantle ?
Many of us are still coming to terms with Paddy’s departure. There is now a void on the flanks which has to be filled and there are three contenders. Lewis Morgan, the new Bhoy from St Mirren; Johnny Hayes, making a welcome return from injury; and Mikey Johnson, full of potential but still untried at this level. It may be that Brendan will decide that more quality is required in that area and look for a loan deal. Here’s hoping it will be more Paddy Roberts than Charly Musonda.
5. Who will be Celtic’s main striker this season ?
We are hugely fortunate to have three class strikers in Dembele, Edouard and Griffiths. Dembele looks as if he’ll start the season as the main man but he has been shown to be injury prone the last few seasons so there is no doubt Edouard and Griffiths will be bursting to show what they can do should they get the opportunity. The manager will probably choose to rotate them accordingly. Don’t bet against Griffiths in the long run if he too can keep fit.
6. Can Ryan Christie make the grade at Celtic ?
Stuart Armstrong’s departure down south has now created a space for an attacking midfielder in the squad. Ryan Christie was arguably Aberdeen’s best player last season and the hope is that he can fill Armstrong’s boots. There is no doubt Christie has the talent and this could hopefully be the season that he makes the breakthrough. Best of luck to him.
7. Is there any point to Marvin Compper ?
Much was expected of Celtic’s winter signing. A player with many years experience in the Bundesliga, Compper was expected to step into the side immediately. For various reasons it hasn’t worked out for him and young Jack Hendry has stole a march on him in Brendan’s good books. If Marvin isn’t near a place by the end of August then a swift return to Germany is on the cards.
8. Can Scott Sinclair rediscover his form ?
Two seasons ago Scott Sinclair was Celtic’s most influential player. A wide man who could not only create goals but score them and also blessed with that fantastic turn of pace he has. Unfortunately the second half of last season saw Scott a shadow of the player he was. So much so that Brendan reshaped the team towards the season’s end to cope without him. Callum McGregor came in on a regular basis at Scott’s expense. Now that his wife has given birth the hope is that Scott’s mind will now be more settled and see him return to the electrifying form we all know that he is capable of. An on form Sinclair is unplayable in Scottish football.
9. Can Celtic make it 8-leagues-in-a-row ?
Sooner or later someone has to provide more of a challenge to Celtic in the league. This season Hibs, Aberdeen and Rangers will all go into the new term with high hopes. Most of the attention will be paid to the goings on at Ibrox but Hibs were actually the best team to play at Parkhead last season despite finishing fourth. All three will have good spells but it remains to be seen if they can sustain a challenge over 38 games. Whatever shape the challenge comes in Celtic have to be prepared for it. The league is still our bread and butter and remains one of the two main priorities every season.
10. A treble treble ?
History has been made these last few seasons. From the invincibles of 2016-17 to the double treble campaign of 2017-18. Celtic have always been a club to make records and create firsts. There is a great incentive for Celtic to create a further record and achieve a record which will likely never be equalled. One of the bonuses of the last two seasons has been the fun and excitement of four winning cup finals at Hampden. They have been hugely enjoyable in different ways. A treble treble has a ring to it. Let’s go for it Celts.