After reaching their highest points total in a season since the Martin O’Neill era few could suggest that Neil Lennon isn’t guiding Celtic in the right direction. In a season packed with controversy on and off the field the idea that Celtic were arguably only two games short of winning a treble did little to soften the parting blow dealt by Walter Smith and his resilient Rangers squad as they lifted the league cup and then the SPL title for the third season in a row.
It is however with this positive outlook that Celtic fans go into the new season, ok one way or another they won many battles over the course of last season but ultimately they lost the war. Perhaps with a hard lesson learned they may prove to hold the key to go a couple of steps further and win the SPL and stop their rivals in their quest for a much sought after 4-in-a-row.
For many the Celtic squad is becoming or has already become too big and saturated with players who don’t really seem to have what it takes when it comes to winning the big prizes. Players like Niall McGinn, Efrain Juarez, Darryl Murphy and even the mercurial Georgios Samaras who has become a love/hate figure on both sides of the Glasgow divide seem to add to the wage bill but bring little to the table as far as quality is concerned. However where some have failed to impress or fulfil their potential others left a mark on Celtic, not a new brand of football but one which has been resurrected. Players like Beram Kayal, Emilio Izaguirre, Scott Brown, Kris Commons and Gary Hooper helped Celtic win many battles and will all remain at Parkhead this season all seeking to this time win the war.
Neil Lennon has strengthened his squad with Victor Wanyama, Adam Matthews and Kelvin Wilson all of which come with rave reviews however the jury will remain out on Lennon’s new Bhoys until they have played competitively for the hoops.
A fully fit Celtic squad is vital. Keeping the likes of Kayal and Hooper fit throughout the campaign could prove more than just important to the Celtic cause. Scott Brown will captain the Celtic side, a feature which will always raise questions and encourage debate amongst Celtic fans and fans in general. Whether Scott Brown has what it takes to lead Celtic to an SPL title I guess time will tell however there is a chasm between being a fired up, hot headed Scotsman and a leader of men, the task of this leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been for three years.
Hence the race for the SPL title will no doubt once again be fiercely contested by the two Glasgow clubs, sadly for the Scottish game this is always going to be the case however regardless of this traditional dynamic there still lies a rather exciting SPL season ahead. Every true football fan wants to see passion and pride on the pitch and we all hope as a nation we have left behind a heightened animosity that blighted so much of last season for all supporters of Scottish Football.
For Celtic, the words of Neil Lennon: “this is not the end, this is just the beginning” still feature on merchandise and have never left the minds of the Celtic supporters but actions speak far louder than words and Lennon will be looking to his players to do the business of football on the pitch – as in the end that is all that truly matters.