Celtic won the Scottish Premiership for nine years in a row, but all good runs come to an end. Last season they failed to win that treasured tenth successive title. This Wednesday saw their hopes of reaching the group stages of the Champions League end. The odds on Celtic turning the situation around and getting into the Europa League group stages aren’t promising.
The new Scottish Premiership season begins this weekend. Bookmakers have them second favourites behind defending champions Rangers. Last season saw them finish 20 points behind the unbeaten champions.
Again, Celtic have exited the Champions League at an early stage. They lost 3-2 on aggregate to Midtjylland in the second qualifying round, the second season in a row that Celtic have been beaten at that stage. Not since the 2017/18 season have they made it to the group stages. They will hope to make it to that stage of the Europa League but even that might be difficult for them.
Celtic have gone from winning the title year after year to what looks like being a painful transition season. The appointment of Ange Postecoglou is a controversial one indeed. It looked as if former Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe might get the job and bookmakers didn’t anticipate Postecoglou to be appointed. He knows a lot about Australian, Greek and Japanese football but how high is his knowledge of playing Hibs on a cold December afternoon?
Rebuilding their squad isn’t going to be easy for Celtic. Their current problems contributed greatly to their Champions League defeat. The loss of potential revenue from that and previous attempts to make the group stage make it difficult to get the players they need to challenge Rangers, hence sportsbooks having them second favourites.
Celtic fielded a side against Midtjylland that was far too inexperienced, especially at the back. The average age of the team that began the second leg was only 23. That’s never a good thing to do regardless of what stage you are in the Champions League. The odds were against them progressing once that team was announced.
Speaking after the loss to Midtjylland, their new boss was again self-critical. “I’m the person that’s been put in charge and if we haven’t got players in obviously, I haven’t done a good enough job of convincing people we need to bring people in. That’s not what you need to hear from Postecoglou and a constant check on the betting market for when he might leave Celtic Park is a good idea.
There have been some new recruits, but they couldn’t play in the Champions League due to current quarantine rules. It’s not just been the Champions League results that have been disappointing. Not too much should be read into the results of friendlies. However, losing 6-2 to West Ham and losing to Preston North End isn’t going to see the odds on you having a successful season plummet, are they?
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The situation could get worse before any signs of improvement. Top striker Edouard is rumoured to be looking for a move away from Celtic Park. He was the only Celtic player to get into double figures in the Scottish Premiership last season. Losing him would be another major blow for the club.
Celtic travel to newly promoted Hearts in their first match of the new Scottish Premiership season. Then it’s the start of their Europa League campaign. The Scottish side take on Jablonec with the first leg in the Czech Republic on August 5 and they are betting favourites to win that tie.
Jablonec have only made it to the group stages of the Europa League on one previous occasion. That was in the 2018/19 season, and they come into this match with no wins in their last seven home Europa League games. Sportsbooks have Celtic as the clear favourites to win this tie and progress to the play-off round. Not making it into the group stage would be another hammer blow to their finances already hit by the pandemic and loss of gate receipts.
Former Celtic striker John Hartson believes it may take a couple of years to turn Celtic around. Their Australian manager won’t like Hartson saying that Celtic won’t give him two years to create a successful team. He’s right though, football isn’t like that anymore and the odds on a managerial change before then are pretty high. Celtic won’t put up with playing second fiddle to Rangers. What if they don’t get into the Europa League group stages or drop down the Scottish Premiership table?
Another former Celtic striker and now a fierce pundit is Chris Sutton. He’s firmly put the blame on the Celtic board and is right to do so. The odds are on a worrying season ahead for Celtic unless faith is shown in their new manager and signings are made in the current and next transfer window. Some more upbeat comments from the Australian would he helpful though. That will only happen when the board start helping him a bit more.
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