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Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Celtic: Ten out of ten for Neil Lennon's Bhoys?


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Coming up to the half way point of Celtic’s 125th season in football how are the club performing across the board?

League Cup and SFA Cup Competitions

Celtic are still alive in both cups which is as much as can be asked for at this stage of the season. The cups are important for Celtic over the next three years as it is the only opportunity they will get to face Rangers. Most Celtic fans would love to have a Scottish Cup showdown next May against Rangers but if the players are as enthusiastic for the rest of the competition as they were against Arbroath in the most recent cup tie then the Celts can forget about it. Adequate displays so far.

Five out of ten.

Celtic celebrateScottish Premier League

Celtic are struggling a little bit to hit their stride in the SPL, particularly at home in Glasgow. There have been hints that their minds are not on the job because of European distractions but I don’t buy this. Whenever I have watched Celtic at home this season they have dominated possession and territory all around the park, but they don’t have the clinical edge up front. Opposition teams are very clued in when they are travelling to Glasgow and are taking their opportunities when they get them.

It may sound astounding to anyone who only watches Celtic in Champions League action but the current crop are very wasteful with opportunities on the domestic front. As we enter the Christmas season Celtic are four points clear with a game in hand. Slowly but surely there is a momentum developing, but it will be at least February before we can be sure that the inconsistency is finished.

To be fair to Celtic it is difficult to find that consistency when all their closest challengers are unable to put consistent runs and pressure on Celtic. A variety of clubs from Hibs, Aberdeen to Motherwell are there or thereabouts, but realistically none of them are showing consistent form that suggests they will challenge for the top prize.

Not a vintage start to the SPL season but enough has been shown to give the fans assurance that the title will stay at Parkhead come May.

Six out of ten.

Champions League

This is one competition where Celtic have surpassed themselves. If we travel back in time to summer 2012 there was real concern in the camp that Celtic may not have what it took to get beyond the challenge of HJK Helsinki and Helsignborgs in the qualifying rounds. Those victories were ultimately comfortable enough and I had said in a previous article that there was little to celebrate in reaching the group stage of the competition.

I haven’t had a chance to write about what I expected from Celtic in the group but if I am honest I would have though finishing third in the group would have been an overachievement for this team. I believe Celtic should be competing at this level every season, but I don’t expect them to pick up too many points when they get there.

The great achievement for me in this campaign has been the performances away from home. There was a psychological blockage with Celtic teams of the past that meant all success in this competition had to be achieved at Parkhead, to have broken that mindset could potentially pay serious dividends in the seasons to come.

Ten out of ten.

Article by Jim Barry

Calling all Celtic fans: How would you assess your team's progress at the halfway stage of the season? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.

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