Celtic: It's all looking good for the Bhoys at Parkhead
Let’s travel back in time, back to 12 months ago and compare where Celtic were then to where they are now.
On October 2, 2011, Celtic were beaten 2-0 at Tynecastle by Hearts, Kris Commons got his marching orders and the Bhoys sat third in the league a full 10 points behind Rangers.
Surely things couldn’t get any worse? The next match on the fixture list was a trip to Rugby Park to play Kilmarnock. Three goals down at half time. Neil Lennon wasn’t going to be in the job too much longer, that was for certain.On the European side of things FC Sion had knocked Celtic out of the Europa League before the group stages had even begun. By October Celtic were back in the competition but legal threats were being made by FC Sion to have Celtic thrown out of the competition.
Twelve months ago it was a shambles. To make matters worse there was a real possibility that the whole Scottish game could collapse on the back of Rangers. The reputation of Scottish football had never been lower and Celtic really were sinking in a big pit of quick sand without too many lifeguards around.Fast forward 12 months and things are looking very different. Kris Commons might have only been given a late call-up to the Scotland squad this week but he has been sensational so far. It’s a far cry from that red card in Tynecastle, but there are a lot more improvements than Kris Commons.
There is now an England international keeping goal at the club while at the other end of the pitch Gary Hooper is about one or two more Champions League performances from getting an England call.
Victor Wanyama is now clearly the real deal. Unfortunately his value is going to reach a level in the next 12 months that will make it almost impossible for Celtic to hold on to him.
There is no sign of Cha Du Ri these days at Parkhead, but Emilio Izaguirre has returned from injury. The big bald Swedish chap is gone and has been replaced by Efe Ambrose a really solid and so far dependable Nigerian international.
We could go on and on but basically anybody that remains at the club has upped their game in the past 12 months and anybody who has left the club has been replaced by a better quality option.In terms of results, things are not too shabby either.
Celtic now sit on top of a Rangers-free SPL, but the SPL is turning out to be very entertaining and competitive league in their absence. Clubs like Hibernian and Aberdeen are having a mini renaissance in the absence of Rangers, and Celtic are certainly not getting three points handed to them on a plate every work. It's turning out to be a very tough league.
The result in Moscow in the Champions League was the most important result for Celtic in the Neil Lennon era. The result and the performance have given Lennon real credibility. The whole episode in Moscow proved that there is no reason to fear away matches in Europe. The past 12 years have been spent living in fear of getting on a plane and attacking European opposition, not anymore, the mindset has changed.
Things have improved greatly in the past 12 months and the enthusiasm at the club is right back to where it was when Gordon Strachan led the club into the last 16 of the Champions League five years ago.
Can the next 12 months be even better? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.