Ahead Of The Game


The site has recently turned to a worrying and very noticeable trend-the shading off of our previously outstanding form. To even raise such a thorny issue even only a few weeks ago was to take your life in your hands. Such a view was considered anathema by the majority. Now,Uncle Tom Cobley et al has their own opinion on the matter,and it is now subject to some fierce debate.

I was one of the first to point out a drop in our previous standards. I don’t think we really flew out of the traps after the WC break,and it got steadily worse. Sure,we could up our game when we needed to,but there were too many games with prolonged stretches of frankly poor stuff. Especially after the LC final  in February. 

Having said that,there is no doubt that we have been significantly ahead of my biggest moonbeams of only two years ago. I said then that whoever our new manager was to be,he faced the biggest job of any manager in my lifetime. 

To rebuild virtually an entire team/squad/coaching operation,scouting network. All criminally neglected by the previous incumbent,thankfully gone,and his CEO facilitator-in-chief,also thankfully gone-we hoped!

I said then that it would be foolish for any of us to expect a genuine title challenge as the newbie regime settled into the job,new players got to know each other and become familiar with the styles or strengths of new colleagues. The more so,given that we finished a whopping 25 points behind our rivals that season. 

For perspective,that is a bigger gap than Martin inherited from the disastrous Barnes/Dalglish era. And he also inherited the likes of Henrik,Stan,Lubo,Jackie,Lambert and Mjallby,amongst others. Our new man was left with Greg Taylor-who at that stage did not inspire any of us with much hope!-and CalMac. And that was about it,the rest simply weren’t good enough and/or had no intention of sticking around. 

My moonbeams at that time were definitely restricted by a cold hard reality-that the new guy needed his first year to work on squad improvements and improvement in our performances and league position. To be even challenging for the title should not be a KPI in his first year,nor how we as fans should judge him. We had to be realistic,the best we could hope for was that he could have his men in place and bedded in for a serious challenge in his second season.

So,while I don’t feel any guilt about pointing out our problems a bit earlier than others may have been happy with,I do feel a strong regret about overlooking my own request,born out of my sheer despair at the time,that we should give our newbie a decent period of time in the job to undo the damage that he inherited,and to put in place the proper blocks for a new period of strength and improvement. 

Ange had us two years ahead of schedule this time last year,and how we celebrated it! We are still those two years ahead by my reckoning,yet the squad still needs some significant work. That’s a good sign,strangely enough. It shows that truly,we never stop. Ange knows that there will always be squad turnover,and it is his job to be ready for that and to implement any transitions as seamlessly as possible. 

Moans and complaints about individual players,or an overall dip in form,these are to be expected from the fan base of a successful side. Those who suggest that it comes from a hunnish sense of entitlement are well off the mark-it comes from the heart and it comes from the head. We know what we are watching,we know the difference between a player struggling for form and a dud. We know too the difference between a player having a couple of outstanding performances and a potential world-beater. We might be the hardest audience to please since the infamous Monday Night at the Glasgow Empire-but it is because we are a knowledgeable bunch. Not because we are a bunch of entitled buffoons. 

So,four trophies from five to date,with a potential treble in eleven days and a fifth trophy from six? In Ange’s first two years,the same two years that I had genuinely written off while he attempted to sort out the Pandora’s Box bequeathed to him? Well,I still won’t apologise for the minor criticisms I have aimed at the side over the last few months. Mainly because I know I was correct then and correct now. Even though I didn’t want to be! But when I’m discussing these things with friends or family on the phone or down the pub,I always remind everyone-and myself!-of how far we have come,and in such a short period of time. 

Yes,it is difficult to criticise the performances of players who are on their way to a second successive title,both achieved against the odds. It is even more difficult to do so when they have actually won that title,and sit on the cusp of a treble. If we judge current events by my Rev I.M. Jolly outlook of two years ago,then we truly are a bunch of total ingrates. However,that isn’t how life works,how football works. 

Ange and his team are now judged by the standards that they themselves have set. And I’m sure they don’t need the armchair expert here to point out that they have been slipping lately. There are obvious reasons for this. The league is done,so that extra yard might not be there for some of the players. We have major injury concerns with some of our star men out for an extended period. Many others who look jaded and in need of a rest. 

It’s the end of the season,ffs! All of this is normal! And our new normal is that Ange spends the summer planning for the next season having reflected on the previous one. Taking the hard decisions about who to allow to leave,who to advise to leave,who to simply tell that their race is run. Meantime,players old and new will be resting up and recharging the batteries. There are always worlds left to conquer,no matter what a despairing Alexander The Great told everyone millennia ago. 

Ours will be serious improvement in Europe,and consolidation in Scotland. Next season is the first one that I expected any new manager two years ago to have any real chance of winning the title,and Ange is going for a hat-trick already? Aye,I reckon that any criticism from me or from the stands on Saturday will be water off a duck’s back to him. Because even when we are right-he already knows. 

He’s way ahead of the game. 

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May 23, 2023 6:02 am

Or alternatively,what AULDBHOY67 said yesterday,925pm. Bottom of page 4.

May 23, 2023 7:08 am

Ahead of the game certainly, and grateful for that.
We are where we are, so having reflected upon how we got here we leave that behind, it’s history and judge what is in front of us presently and potentially ahead.

There appears to be an element of polarisation of views on performance levels at the moment.
The “ you’ve rarely had it so good, be grateful for that” outlook versus the extreme boorish, blasé adoption of privilege and win expectation,

I accept nothing should ever be taken for granted and hubris is not an attractive trait, but also taking a blindingly optimistic point of view is naive.

Critical observation on performance levels is allowed, it is what interested supporters do, expressing an opinion should be expected and is not a sign of entitlement. Diversity is welcome.

Continued Improvement promotes growth, and hopefully this summer we seriously commit to a progressive agenda.

May 23, 2023 7:16 am

23rd May 1999, Dundee Utd 1:2 Celtic.

Burchill double. @Burchyboy27 https://t.co/3wAaPFQRqO

Big Audio Dynamite
May 23, 2023 9:03 am

As I was walking down Copland road, I met a couple of strangers …

May 23, 2023 9:50 am

Morning all! Heading out soon but there’s a few funnies on this thread after Sandy Clark threatens to make an absolute clown of himself!!

May 23, 2023 10:04 am


Only get “access denied” message when I click on that.

May 23, 2023 10:14 am

Sorry Bobby, it’s opening fine at this end!

May 23, 2023 10:22 am

Your second link worked fine,MCCAFF. Thanks.

What a knob. A pensioner who thinks he’s still got it. At least when SOLKITTS and I tormented an Irvine Meadow player forty years ago,we knew we were asking for trouble. He was a fearsome lump of a boy. Yet even he thought twice.

Clark,though? Still got it? He needed a bloody zimmer frame to get near the guy!

May 23, 2023 10:36 am


Other viewpoint — similar but a slightly different focus.
Agree vs 2000 — AP had GT / CMcG to build a team around / MO’N had 4 times as much.

The CL campaign took a lot out of us.
As it progresses our performance levels dropped.
Very big ask for such an inexperienced squad.

Run up to the WC was a challenge.
Some had other things on their mind and it showed.

Restart of the season — I think we moved up a gear.
To me our play moved up at least one level.

Biggest issue I could see was that if the team went two goals up on TFOD2.1 they switched off.
Took them 15 minutes to get back into the game and in that time we usually had lost a goal.

As the season developed we were getting more patchy in our play – ups and some downs.
Changed on 29 minutes at Killie when they re-jigged their formation — low energy stodge since.

Reasons — probably many and varied.

Squad is brittle / not settled down / celebration is mostly manly handshakes..
Squad is pretty raw / not a lot of experience in this environment.
Places for next season are an issue — some want out / some are feeling squeezed out..
I think we are over coached / too prescriptively coached — 2014 Aus NT we are not.
Young players coming off the wave and feeling the expectations very heavy.
Bad habits — wasteful / sloppy / not taking responsibility.
Lack of onfield leadership / experience / fight.
Poor set up — squad gets a sniff of a dead rubber and it is loungers out.
Evidence — B/G last season / Aus Cup / ten days ago.

Difficult third season coming up.
Lots to do / talent required.
In the squad and in the coaching team.

The talent pathway shows how much work is required.

Bada Bing
May 23, 2023 11:02 am

BMCUW- a lot of good points there,it’s been a long season because of the World Cup, the SC Final is in June ffs….Taylor been our most improved player under Ange, Big Joe next whipping boy off the rank,I think he’s got another season in him as No 1

Bada Bing
May 23, 2023 11:03 am
Big Audio Dynamite
May 23, 2023 11:05 am

That’s about 10x you’ve said “Difficult third season coming up” Mitch.

Could you explain what that statement is based on?

May 23, 2023 11:18 am


I haven’t lost faith in Joe Hart either,he deserves another season and will be difficult to replace. Might be worth keeping an eye on Wickens at Fulham. Out of contract next season,21yo. Matt will know him well.

Got to plan ahead,Joe won’t be around forever.

May 23, 2023 11:24 am


I think it’s based on “the difficult second album”. I’ve bought a few of them in my time! I can’t think of a Celtic manager who has had a difficult third season after two successful ones-even when MON won nothing in 2003,none of us judged it as a failure. Three out of the four trophies,we were clearly cheated!

I’m sure MM will explain his reasoning.

May 23, 2023 11:43 am

b ‘ 11’ish

Difficult third season — close to home.

2002 — MO’N and DD fell out.
Poor start to the season saved only by the march to Seville.
Seeds sown for life in the slow lane / voicemails left on the wrong phone.

2018 — BR and DD fell out.
BR is dumped / PL is brought back out of his box.
Start of decline that ended in the 2020/21 implosion / shambles.

Notable mention:
2007 — PL takes charge to save his bonus.
Made progress in Europe / slow start in the SPL.
Saved by a series of miracles in April / May 2008.

Bit like Star Wars — The boardroom strike back.
Don’t want it to happen again — forewarned is forearmed and all that.

Other elements could be in play — managerial low energy levels / decline.
WGS was starting to struggle by his third season — expectations starting to weigh heavily on him..
Fourth season and he was running on fumes and one liners — not good.

Big Audio Dynamite
May 23, 2023 11:47 am


As far as Ange and the coming season are concerned, that proves absolutely nothing.

Unless you have learned to read tea leaves, it’s all just guesswork.

May 23, 2023 11:51 am

‘Celebration is mostly manly handshakes”
No they aren’t.
“over coached “
What even is that and what is the alternative or remedy?
CharlesCharlieCharles CSC

May 23, 2023 12:04 pm

BMCUW @ re-reading

We have given our friends in Govan a glimmer of hope.
They are running with it and narrative for next season is nearly complete.

This season — TFOD2.1 were still trying to deal with the Seville failure.
They crawled their way into the CL where they had to be and then collapsed.

Next season — they are on a high that we gifted.
The focus will be the league and Ludge MIB / Ludge VAR will be standing by.

Todders is already the SFWA Player of the Season and some journeyman striker will get the Golden Boot.
The Gym Bunny look is back in fashion in Govan and drugs testing in the SPL will be forgotten about.

It will be much harder next season — four game crap shoot and they will be desperate.
To think otherwise is to re-live the past and being shocked to find out that others have learned from it.

May 23, 2023 12:13 pm

Over coached / overly prescriptive coaching — continuing to play to instruction / playing to a set pattern when the game on the park does not play out in the manner that was envisaged by the team / coaching staff before the game.

Either we don’t have the football intelligence on the park to spot this or we are too focused on following the pre-set plan to change things when the game is not going to plan and change is required.

My view is that we have seen too much of this recently.
We don’t seem to be able to make changes on the park.
If change does happen — it happens at half time.
We are missing out regarding tactical flexibility.

Something to work on.

Big Audio Dynamite
May 23, 2023 12:26 pm

We will just need to console ourselves with the treble this year.

Next year will take care of itself

If I was a betting man, I’d be betting on going for 4iar this time next year.

May 23, 2023 1:14 pm


You are not pitching for APs job are you or just to be on the selection Board?

May 23, 2023 1:54 pm

AH @ 1.14

They couldn’t afford me …
Well that is what the wife tells me and I believe her.

Just shooting the breeze regarding where we are and what might happen next.
It must be the 15 years experience of playing senior team sport coming to the fore.

Dressing rooms are great levellers — incredible places to listen and learn.
You start to spot the smallest things plus BS is immediately apparent / well 80 minutes away.
They deliver double speed maturity — you grow up very fast.

Business is totally different — things happen much more slowly / more time to make up excuses.
Even sales is not at the level of league sport while in other areas failure is only apparent after a decade / decades.

And then there is politics — Brexit @ 7 years and as we walk amongst the wreckage some still shout hurrah.
You could make a case that 90 years on appeasement is still not fully understood / some still believe in it.

Coaching — tough gig / sorry very tough gig.
Keyboard bashing is much easier.
Do you agree?

May 23, 2023 1:55 pm

M turning Japanese, so a am !!!!

Nice beer 👍👍👍

May 23, 2023 2:11 pm



Spoiler alert. This is part of the introduction to Brendan Sweeney’s book:

‘Celtic: The Early Years’

‘Close your eyes for a minute and try to envisage your life without Celtic.

Not just the Celtic you watch play football for ninety minutes, the Celtic you talk about every day in your life, the Celtic you think about every other minute and the Celtic that pours out of every vein in your body, determines your mood swings, dictates your friendships, commands your social life and often attracts the person you marry to spend the rest of their life with you.

It shapes your life, your morals, your principles, and often your politics. It shapes your very existence. You cherish the days your father took you to your first games and you in turn gift the same devotion to your children and so it goes on.

For eternity.

Pause and imagine your life without Celtic. Take away everything that Celtic has given to you in life. Who would you be?’

This is shaping up to be some book.

Hail Hail.

May 23, 2023 2:16 pm

From Celtic FC.
Ticket Update🎟️🚨: We are pleased to confirm a second phase sale of match tickets for the Scottish Cup Final at Hampden Park (Saturday, June 3).
Match tickets are for the West Stand only and are now on sale to Season Ticket holders who attended our previous home fixtures in the 2022/23 Scottish Cup*.

Our previous 2022/23 Scottish Cup home fixtures were our Fourth and Fifth Round ties with Greenock Morton and St Mirren.

*The second phase of sale is available to Season Ticket holders who are not registered on the Home Cup Ticket scheme, and have purchased both 2022/23 Scottish Cup Home fixtures.

There is a limit of 1 ticket per eligible STH during the second phase of sale.

Eligible Season Ticket holders have been contacted via email confirming sales arrangements, with the deadline for eligible Season Ticket holders to purchase of 2pm on Thursday, May 25.

Full information ⤵️


May 23, 2023 2:29 pm


With that range of experience you should have more to offer than key board bash.

I do a bit more than keyboard bashing myself.

In fact it was reading key board bashing comments on CQN away back that got me into getting off my arse to try and make kb more reasoned.

One starfish at a time.

May 23, 2023 2:58 pm

Rolf Harris is didgeri-deid.

RIP seems inappropriate

Bada Bing
May 23, 2023 3:05 pm

Kyogo SPFL Player of the Year

May 23, 2023 3:37 pm
Bada Bing
May 23, 2023 4:00 pm
big packy
May 23, 2023 4:24 pm

HELLO HELLO we are the fenian tims,, thought i was going to say something else there did you🤩

big packy
May 23, 2023 4:36 pm

OK just booked into the ritz hotel in ardrossan, only to find me and wee joan are overbooked, FFS the Ritz hotel has got inside toilets,, now we have been directed to the Lauriston hotel,,where is solkitts when you need him🤩 🤩

big packy
May 23, 2023 4:50 pm

FRODSHAMBHOY, hope you are well, will see you on monday god willing, wee joan has just asked me please get BOB,.frodshambhoy back on here posting,,.listen sweet pea ill do what i can, FRODSHAMBHOY there you are wee joan luvs ya to bits ,that was a mike in toronto and jimthetim53 post ,both good ghuys and they would love you,another true story🤩

May 23, 2023 5:42 pm


The Clyde Estuary,just beside Ardrossan Town station,is highly recommended.

big packy
May 23, 2023 5:46 pm

BOBBY THANKS ,but will listen to a good ardrossan man in solkitts, no offence🤩 🤩

Bada Bing
May 23, 2023 5:48 pm

Rogic released by West Brom

May 23, 2023 6:12 pm


Tam should be playing at a better club than WBA. Us,for a start.

May 23, 2023 6:36 pm


Your decision,but I’m told the accommodation is excellent. You even get a buxom bottle blonde to show you where your room is,then tuck you in.

big packy
May 23, 2023 6:42 pm

BOBBY, tam rogic had his chance with us and failed to take it ,great player on his day, but them days were few and far between FFS getting released by west Bromwich albion that tells you something, BTW once got caught by a speed camera right opposite west broms ground, 2-30 in the morning,another true story🤩

May 23, 2023 6:54 pm


230 in the morning? You weren’t visiting one of them buxom bottle blondes,were you?

Sol Kitts
May 23, 2023 6:56 pm

Big Packy
If you stay at the Lauriston, don’t mention that you know me or BMCUWP. You’ll be asked to settle a long outstanding bar bill from the last time we were there, and when I say it’s outstanding, I mean it is magnificent. They had to get a new printer tor the till to finish printing it- so many pints of Guinness we got a personal thanks from Arthur himself.
Try the Ponderosa on Glasgow Street instead, handy for nipping into Lothian’s Butchers for a slab of squerr.

May 23, 2023 7:04 pm


Ah,The Ponderosa-or Bute Bar,to be precise-is now a rather posh little wine bar.

I know,they must have done their research. But I can’t help thinking that they may just have got the demographics wrong on this one.

big packy
May 23, 2023 7:10 pm

SOLKITTS/ BOBBY will try the ponderosa, loved bonanza back in the day🤩 🤩 another true story.LOL

May 23, 2023 7:15 pm


I remember getting that personal thank you from Mr Guinness. It was a unique signed pint glass. Well,I say unique,but we both got one.

I’ll probably accidentally break yours in ten days time,that way mine is indeed unique.

May 23, 2023 7:16 pm


Oh,you’ll definitely be in for a bonanza. Bring plenty of cash and antibiotics.

big packy
May 23, 2023 7:18 pm

BOBBY will do 🤩

Sol Kitts
May 23, 2023 7:19 pm

I’ve got signed glasses from Mr Budweiser, Mr Tennents, Mr Fowler (the Wee Heavy man), Mr McEwan and Mr Magner.

Sol Kitts
May 23, 2023 7:20 pm

Big Packy
I can guarantee you’ll get a clap for your efforts.