Graham Cummins looks at how Celtic have collapsed across two seasons

Bhoys need some new men in the squad or they'll struggle to come second, let alone challenge Rangers
Graham Cummins looks at how Celtic have collapsed across two seasons

Hearts' Armand Gnanduillet holds onto Celtic's Callum McGregor during the cinch Premiership match at Tynecastle. Picture: James Warwick

FORGET challenging Rangers for the title, if Celtic don’t invest in their squad, and don’t bring in better quality players, the Hoops won’t finish second.

This is easily the worst Celtic team I’ve ever seen. I remember when it would be a serious debate that if Celtic were to join the English Premier League that they would be capable of finishing in the top-four. Right now, with the current squad to even have that discussion is laughable because the Hoops would struggle in League One.

The speed of the demise of Celtic has been surprising. From a side that completed a domestic quadruple-treble less than 20 months ago to a team that doesn’t look even close to competing with Rangers. 

However, when you look at the players in the Celtic squad should it be that surprising?

Celtic's Ismaila Soro and Hearts' Beni Baningime battle for the ball. Picture: James Warwick
Celtic's Ismaila Soro and Hearts' Beni Baningime battle for the ball. Picture: James Warwick

Against Hearts, in Celtic’s first game of the new season, Nir Bitton and Carl Starfelt were their centre-back pairing. Both players were poor on the night, and strikers will enjoy competing against the two.

Yes, Starfelt had just arrived in Glasgow but his performance didn’t leave me with hope of thinking that he could be a real find for Celtic. And having played against Bitton, I got the impression he’s arrogant and when it comes to a fight, he’s not the man you want in your team.

Bitton is a talented player, but the type of player that is only suited to a team that dominates games. In the past, Celtic didn’t have to get out of second gear to defeat teams and playing in that side suited Bitton because he didn’t have to work hard or break a sweat. At the moment, Celtic are struggling and when it comes down to it, the Israeli doesn’t want to work hard for the team and is proving to be a liability.

Signing Joe Hart was an important signing for Celtic. He may be 34, but will bring a lot of experience to those young defenders playing in front of him and is an upgrade on the goalkeepers already at the club.

VALUE

The most concerning issue for Celtic and needs addressing is Odsonne Edouard’s future. Edouard's focus is clearly on securing a move away from Glasgow, which is leading to poor performances from the striker.

The Edouard solution is simple; sell him. Celtic want close to €20m for the player, but with his performances of late, and him being in the last year of his contract, Celtic have to be realistic by dropping the price tag and getting rid of a player who is doing more damage than good. 

I’ve been in a dressing room with players that feel they should be moving on to bigger and better things and it becomes a distraction. 

Every single day teammates are asking the player when is he going to leave and what’s he still doing at the club. And sometimes having a player around like that devalues the club because they feel that the club is beneath them and that attitude more often than not rubs off on close friends on the team, therefore, leading to a divide in the dressing room.

Yes on his day, Edouard is Celtic’s best player, but when was the last time he was on his day? 

If he wants to go, the club have to let him, even if it is at a reduced price because certainly, in the second half of the season, all the Frenchman will be worried about is not picking up an injury that could hinder the possibility of him getting a big signing-on fee next summer.

The crowd factor must also be affecting the players. Celtic players are used to their supporters outnumbering opposition fans most games but that hasn’t been the case last year and for their game against Hearts. Supporters play a massive role in helping a team succeed, which was evident in the top leagues across Europe last year — when no supporters were allowed into matches — by the number of away victories. 

Against Hearts, Celtic supporters weren’t allowed into the game and last year former manager Neil Lennon admitted that his players were affected by empty stadiums.
That suggests to me, that the Celtic players are weak characters because they can’t perform to high standards without their supporters. 

Last season, Celtic finished trophyless and ended 25 points adrift of Rangers. Celtic fans would have envisioned this season being better but for me, it will be a lot worse.

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