Here we go again…
As we discussed in That Was The Decade That Was : Lenny takes the Helm , we saw our Lurgan hero secure the early League Titles.
So just what would he be looking forward to in Season 3..not quite what he got thats for sure..as always. feel free to leave your comments below..
Oh just as you get comfortable, Celtic go and throw a right curve-ball into the mix.
Despite stepping in when needed and winning 2 Leagues, Neil Lennon would be exiting stage left before the season got underway. The talk of clashing over cash for purchases (and what about the Sales? – Ed) was circulated which seemed crazy if true given the man that Dermot wanted to be leader was a certain Roy Keane who surely wasn’t coming with cheap wage or transfer expectations.
Keane would ultimately tell Lawwell and Dermot to ram it when Lawwell insisted a fresh faced up and coming coach from Norway become his Number 2. As Keane walked away, Lawwell promoted his man up a notch and in came Ronnie Deila with Mr Wolverine aka John 6 Pack Collins coming in as his Number 2 with a certain John Kennedy getting promoted from the U20s Coaching role to First Team Coach.
To say the Celtic fans were gobsmacked is putting it lightly but Ronnie seemingly had some decent and modern ideas. He talked of making the side fitter and smarter and we hoped for the best.
The first big talking point was him getting rid of Chips at Lennoxtown ( honestly -WTF Lenny!) and we all smiled when we saw the colourful plate marking out veg, carbs and protein portions expected of the players!
Anyone remember we once had a Head of Performance named Bård Ove Homstøl and an Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation and Performance Specialist named Grete Mellingen Homstøl ?
No, me neither but makes sense in the modern game.
Ronnie then set about forming his side with notable signings of Craig Gordon on a free and Stuart Armstrong and GMS from the Arabs for a few million. Up front we brought in Stefan Šćepović as our striker.
On loan we brought in the very decent Jason Denayer and the mercurial John “thinks hes Zlatan” Guidetti. We also brought Mubarak Wakazo whom I cant even recall, we acquired Aleksandr Tonev who its best skipping over, and a certain Jo Inge Berget who jumped off a plane, ran about and looked silly then buggered off only to come back to haunt us a while later.
Exiting the doors of Paradise would be Fraser Forster for £10m, Tony Watt headed to Belgium, Berum Kayal went to Brighton and the beloved Sammi walked away to West Brom. Out on Loan headed that boy Pukki and that dud Baldé.
Peter was once again cock-a-hoops as we pocketed another £7m in net transfer profit. Anyone think he was missing Rangers at all?
Friendly wise we got humped by Spurs and beat by St Paulo and PSV but we started well enough in the league with 2 wins before Inverness Caley beat us up in the Highlands. Caley would go on to figure prominently that season.
Europe wise – We got turned over something rotten by Legia Warsaw but like the Sion affair, we took their place after they fielded a player they shouldn’t have and even then we just scraped through on away goals!
We got slapped by Maribor in the CL Play off round, throwing it away at home and fell into the Europa League. That group featured an early Red Bull Salzburg incarnation and we actually managed to draw away with them before they slapped us down at Celtic Park. Look where they are now!
We managed to beat Zagreb and Astra to qualify from the group and earn a glamour time against our old foes Inter.
Ronnie’s side did well drawing 3-3 in an exciting game at home with a special Guidetti goal but they went out after a 1-0 win for the Italians back in Milan in the February.
Domestically, the League was won with 3 games to go when Aberdeens challenge ended with a defeat at Tannadice.
On the pitch, the perfect football science of Ronnie, wasn’t quite blossoming as hoped. Highlights on the park were big Virgil scoring 10 goals that season while his partner Denayer got 6.
Upfront though, the Magic 50 club would need Griffiths (20), Commons(16) and Guidetti(15) whilst Stokes and Johansen contributed 8 and 13 respectively.
Sadly and ominously for our star striking purchase, Stefan Šćepović only managed 6 goals, 1 more than Broony and a certain Callum MacGregor who had profited from his previous Seasons loan spell.
The League Cup was won in style though with not a goal conceded in the tourney.
We even met new club The Rangers on the way and dismissed them 2-0 in the semi final before cuffing Dundee United by the same in the Hampden final in March.
It would be back at Hampden that Ronnie would first taste the reality of life in Scottish Football.
In the April we faced Inverness Caley in the semi final of the Scottish. We weren’t great by any means but in front of only 28643 fans, we took the lead through big Virgils free kick and then up stepped the Masonic Cabal to help deny Ronnie his Treble.
How that Linesman, 3 yards away, never saw the blatant hand ball from Josh Meekings preventing Leigh Griffith scoring the second is anyones guess.
It was ridiculous, hell it denied a goal, a penalty and a red card all in one!
We then had to go down to 10 men with Craig Gordon walking the walk and then Caley eventually snatched it at the death of injury time. Absolutely gutting and that was the end of the season for us really bar raising the Title flag.
Oh there was also the small matter of a boy being promoted to play in the defence. On the 22nd April 2015, Celtic fans welcomed Kieran Tierney to the side as he came on against Dundee. The left back berth and acclaim would be all his come the next few years.
BTW – Can you recall what was uniquely missing from the Top flight League that year?
Ronnies second and final season would be one that was encapsulated by The Ronnie Roar. All show and no real substance but we will get to that.
Player wise, it was a very strange time.
We bought Dedryk Boyata, Jozo, Erik Sviatchenko so some shoring up at the back with Jason Denayer not interested in extending a loan or a transfer. We also went around the SPFL and scooped up Scott Allan ( Sigh – Ed) and Nadir Çiftçi from Dundee United. Sadly Çiftçi ended up back out on loan come January he was so bad at Celtic!
Oh and we also signed a young boy named Ryan Christie from Inverness Caley ( Hooray – Ed) who we graciously sent back out to develop.
We also somehow ended up with Carlton Cole and Colin Kazim Richards. No, I have no idea either!
Our loan signings that season would include Saidy Janko, Tyler Blackett and a young man named Patrick Roberts popping up from Man City..wonder what happened to him?
Heading out the door though, we saw that boy Pukki exit to begin his adventure into Superstardom. We finally got rid of Derk Sicknote and Mr Balde and notably former saviour Tony Stokes exited that January.
The big sell off to keep Peters driveway warm was Virgil Van Dijk to Southampton ( of course) for £11.5m.
Our net transfer profit that season was sadly only £6m…embarrassing!
As for the fitbaw…we played our Friendlies out at Paisley that year, facing Den Harry Bosch, Sociedad and getting gubbed by Dulka Prague. We also faced a wee French team called Rennes…wonder what ever happened to them?
The Euro qualifiers were a right self inflicted boot in the nether regions as we exited to Malmo and we let our old bearded pal Jo Berget score 2 easy goals at Celtic Park to help put us out once Malmo got us back in Sweden. I still blame that crowd jinx of doing the Huddle while 2 goals up.
We then fell into the Europa to face Ajax, Fenerbahçe and Molde. We wouldnt win a game. 3 draws was the best we could do, just awful and Molde beat us home and away as iwe ended bottom of the group. This gave plenty of ammunition the Ronnie doubters, especially when Kris Commons went mental being substituted during a home defeat to Molde.
It would be another Trophy that confirmed Ronnies tenure was at an end but we will get to that.
As for the League, that was still missing the The Rangers as Motherwell had gubbed them in the play offs much to the joy of many watching on TV. Celtic would tie up the League straightforward enough and close the season with a 7-0 gubbing of Motherwell.
Other notable League highlights were a 8-1 win versus Hamilton and and scorer wise, the highlight was Leigh Griffiths breaking the 30 goal marker during the season and 40 goals overall. The fact no other striker managed more than 4 says how much we relied on Griff that season, ably supported by Rogic(10) and Commons(9). Surprisingly given his role these days, Nir Bitton scored 8 goals that season!
And nowthe Domestic cups where we would get to the semis of both competitions.
The League cup was mental. In Ronnies 100th game in charge, we went 1 up in seconds through GMS (See if you want any of they stories of his maw and Ronnie…Just Leave it – Ed) only for Efe to then get sent off ( that conniving bastard Shalk again!) and we missed a penalty before we eventually fell 3-1 to Ross County at Hampden.
As The Scottish Cup..well that was the end of Ronnie.
Going out to The Rangers on penalties was bad enough but no-one immediately thought it meant the end of days.
What Ronnie and others weren’t to know was that Dave King and crew would over celebrate and dare to annoy Dermot Desmond.
Least if the legend is to be believed.
All we do know is that soon enough, despite clinching another league, Ronnie was politely wishing us All the best and farewell and left with our best wishes and his dignity.
On reflection, Ronnie was a nice guy who kept the league wins going so fair enough.
On paper, he had some decent ideas and hopes on the modern game and players but the reality is that in the end the job and expectations were just to big for him. It says it all that no-one has ever whispered “Och I wish we had Ronnie still”. To balance that though, everyone will gladly cheer Ronnie on the pitch if we go on to make the 10.
Speaking of being fair, to be fair to John Collins, our former Predator wearing midfielder honourably and immediately confirmed he would be going too given Ronnies exit. Lots of sleakit folk would have chanced their arm under such circumstance.
And so that was that season.
We had no idea what lay in store!
Look out for The Holy Trinity coming Dec 30th