Stuart Armstrong – A Promising Future

In recent times some of the best talent in the Scottish Premiership has made their way south… Mainly to Southampton it has to be said.

We’ve seen Fraser Forster, Virgil Van Dijk, Steven Davis and Victor Wanyama all arrive on the south coast from opposite sides of the Old Firm divide.

Add in Steven Naismith (Everton), Andy Robertson (Hull), Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth), Gary Hooper (Norwich) and Joe Ledley (Crystal Palace) you’d have a strong argument to suggest that contrary to belief, there is a wealth of talent north of the border.

Well there is a man who has the potential to top them all and go on to become a stand out player for a top club in the English Premier League , that man is Celtic’s Stuart Armstrong.

Signed from SPL rivals Dundee United January 2015 the all-action midfielder has gone on to become one of Brendan Rodgers’ key men in their push for an unprecedented unbeaten domestic treble.

With 13 goals so far this term it is only team mate Moussa Dembele that can possibly beat him to any of Player of the Year accolades shortly to be handed out.

Stuart-Armstrong-Image

Perhaps surprisingly it was only last month in which Armstrong made his international debut. Unsurprisingly he was the best player on the park by a mile. He covered every blade of Hampden turf on a “do or die” night for Scotland. He carried a nation and was rightly awarded MOM for his endeavours.

The sublime and composed pass so late in the game that gave Chris Martin the opportunity to keep The Tartan Army’s faint Russia 2018 hopes alive typified the season that the Celt is having.

Celtic’s £2.5M outlay looks a steal and they are certain to make a huge profit should they decide the time is right to cash in. Having only just turned 25, Armstrong is still a couple of seasons away from his peak but he has all the attributes to make it to the very top.

The scouts must be watching and reporting back to their respective managers to ready that chequebook.

Check out this video on Youtube; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dodHHHTTAaU 

Stuart Armstrong image sourced from; www.celticnewsnow.com

 

 

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Celtic Manager – Who’s up for the challenge?

It’s all over for Ronny Delia (and John Collins).

The 2nd league title is in the bag but ultimately he is paying for his failings with his job. Delia will no doubt head back to Scandinavia and we’ll be surprised if he surfaces on these shores again.

His inability to clean up domestically and even muster up a passable performance in Europe has proved that he was never the right appointment in 2014. A club the size and stature of Celtic should NOT be taking a manager from Stromsgodset in the first place.

Ronny-Deila-Image

Peter Lawwell and the rest of the Parkhead board have decide that he isn’t the man to take the club forward next season and with the expected, slightly delayed reappearance of their nearest rivals Rangers it is the correct call in our opinion.

We are going to take a look at the runners and riders for the dugout on the east side of Glasgow:-

Brendan Rodgers

If he’s the man they want they need to act fast. Swansea City are rumoured to be interested in talks to bring their former manager back to the Liberty.

We feel Rodgers would see himself as too big for the job and would almost certainly turn it down in favour of a top flight club in England. Celtic would no doubt play with “character” under the former Liverpool gaffer but it’s not for him.

Neil Lennon

Not going to say much. It’s Neil Lennon, he’d jump at the chance especially as no-one else wants him. Failed at Bolton regardless of the money issues, not a good manager and brings a certain arrogance that most looking in don’t like.

David Moyes

Tough call for Mr Moyes, his next job is make or break. He needs to rebuild a shattered reputation.

He could come and mange the side he once played for, win a couple of trophies over a 2 or 3 year deal. The only thing he would really need to do would be prove better in Europe than Delia.

Could be the safe and stable option for both parties.

Roy Keane

The interesting candidate. Keano would certainly pull no punches and have the respect of the players from the moment he put a foot through the door.

However you can already see the day 5 months down the line…a defeat to Motherwell and a disagreement with the board and he’ll be back on the ITV sofa with Lee Dixon after a dramatic resignation. Think he’s already in the ideal job as ROI’s number 2.

Paul Lambert

Our chosen one. His last 2 jobs just haven’t been the right fit for Lambert. A former player, a champions league winner and European experience to bring to the table. Lower league success down south and would bring that gritty Scottish element that he had as a player. Would be big enough for the challenge with a 3-5 year stay a comfortable timescale.

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Mentions for another couple of the outsiders but men who aren’t quite ready to make the step up go to Henrik Larsson and Paul Hartley. Both have good jobs at this moment in time but we do think they have a big future ahead of them. Don’t be surprised to see either of these be the choice next time around.

The big job awaits someone soon, It’s going be interesting viewing watching how the chosen man goes about re-shaping an already big squad. Celtic need to add quality to progress in Europe and maintain their superiority within their own city. The SPL title is a must, coming 2nd is nowhere is Scotland!

The Old Firm – Semi Final is just the Beginning…

April the 17th will see two massive clubs play out one of the most hotly contested local derbies in World football. Celtic v Rangers is an event  like no other and let it be known that this game will light the touch paper for the 2016/17 season.

To the surprise of many Scottish football fans the 2 big guns came out together in the draw when most expected the much laughed about “hot and cold” balls to be placed into the pot.

The prospect of an Old Firm Final just before Rangers make the long awaited re-appearance in the top flight we assumed would be too good an opportunity for the SFA to overlook.  How wrong we were!

Since Rangers demotion to the Scottish 4th tier in 2012 these 2 rivals have met only once, In the League Cup Semi Final of 2015. Rangers were no match for Celtic either on the park or off it a year ago but this time around they are a different proposition.

Old-Firm-Game-Hampden

Rangers have rid themselves of a lot of deadwood and players not capable of producing a Championship title at the 1st time of asking last term. They had paid big wages and carried the likes of Ian Black, Bilel Moshni and Steve Simonsen for too long the new management team of Warburton and Weir have cleared the decks and brought in their own men. Mainly raiding Wigan Athletic for 3 solid footballers who have settled well in Glasgow.

Over in Glasgow’s East End this could quite easily be seen as one of Ronny Delia’s last act’s as Celtic Manager. His 12 moth rolling contract will once again be up for review at the end of the season and with a poor European performance (Europa League – Played 6, won 0), League Cup Semi defeat to Ross County and a strong title challenge from Aberdeen still on the cards, it is difficult to make a case for him being given another season. Speculation is rife with David Moyes and even Ryan Giggs being mentioned for the role, Delia is not and never will be the man for Parkhead.

The game itself will be set up perfectly by the time it comes around, Rangers have secured the Scottish Championship title and will be determined to prove many doubters wrong by upsetting the bookies and making it to the final. Celtic will still have one eye on the league and will undoubtedly be under pressure to dispatch of their fiercest rivals just like last year.

3 battles on the day will be key to deciding who will play either Hibs or Dundee United in the 144th Final…Griffiths v Wilson – Brown v Holt – Delia v Warburton.

Celtic-vs-Rangers

Next season will see at least 3, more likely to be 4 Old Firm games return to our screens and it fair to say they have been missed. They are looked forward too by millions around the world and really should be mentioned in the same breath as El Clasico, The Manchester and Merseyside derbies.

The football on show may be looked down upon by some but you’d struggle to name a poor game between these two giants.

Back to the impending duel however…Hampden will be packed to the rafters, the respective ends will be in full voice and make no mistake both sets of fans will be arriving expecting to leave victorious. Celtic are there for the taking in our opinion and this alone should make for a fantastic Semi Final.

As long as the players and fans behave then roll on Sunday 17th April!

Old Firm image sourced from; www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/jackross
Old Firm crowd image sourced from; www.thetimes.co.uk/sport/football

Are we starting to see the managerial failing of Neil Lennon?

Neil Lennon was Celtic Manager between March 2010 – May 2014, in this time he had the opportunity to secure 14 domestic trophies with the biggest club in the country.

Neil-Lennon-Celtic-Trophy

Add into this the demise of Rangers during the 2011-12 season and their subsequent relegation to the 3rd tier of Scottish football, Lennon really should have delivered more than the 5 trophies he eventually did.

3 SPL titles & 2 Scottish Cups was in my opinion a poor return for a manger with all the resources at his disposal.

His attitude and touchline demeanour were nothing short of scandalous at times and his inability to praise other teams for good performances was a serious flaw. Lennon also likes to play the blame game, with the blame staying as far away from himself as possible.

Yes there was the memorable Champions League campaign of 2012-13, the beating of the mighty Barcelona and qualification from the group made a lot of people sit up and take notice. However with Lennon’s other 3 UCL campaigns ending before group stage qualification (2) or a disappointing 1 win group stage exits (1) you may put that particular season down to the 1st season absence of the neighbours from across the city.

Good signings in the form of Gary Hooper, Virgil Van Dijk and Emilio Izaguirre were countered balanced by big money flops such as Teemu Pukki, Derk Boerrigter and Mo Bangura.

Again basing it on trophies won, you’d have to question Lennon’s ability to drive a team too good for the SPL in truth, onto win everything in their path.

A total of 42 signings came through the door in his time, 10+ per season to achieve what exactly?

Well a major positive from Lennon’s time is the transfer fees Celtic have managed to receive for numerous players. It’s a shame they don’t treat the other SPL teams with the same respect as they demand to be shown in this area, but that’s another story.

However the fact that he was seen as such as success really has to be questioned, the majority of us could take on the Celtic job and at least win 1 trophy per season.

Key question – Are Celtic in safer hands under Delia or is he another Lennon is disguise?

Upon leaving Celtic he was linked with numerous roles down south including Leicester City, Cardiff City and Fulham before ultimately officially being approached by Bolton Wanderers.

Now the Trotters are a team lacking funds having had the last of their parachute payments and by paying poor players too high wages for an extra season or two since relegation.

He has since taken charge of 51 matches, winning just 14 leaving him with a poor win % of 27.45%.

Neil-Lennon-Bolton-Manager

Questionable signings of Eidur Gudjohnsen, Emile Heskey and Gary Madine show that without the considerable funds and pull of fortress Parkhead, he struggles to build a squad.

Could Lennon not have used his “experience” to take some of the better SPL players and give them a chance to prove their worth in the North West?

Bolton Wanderers currently sit bottom of one of the toughest and most competitive leagues in Europe, The Sky Bet Championship and I for one wouldn’t bet against Lennon and Bolton parting ways before relegation looms towards the business end of the season.

Neil-Lennon-Bolton-Wanders-Manager

Neil Lennon & Celtic Cup Win image sourced from; www.bbc.co.uk
Neil Lennon & Matt Miles image sourced from; www.thedailymail.co.uk
Neil Lennon bottom image sourced from; www.theguardian.com