Where did it all go wrong? As you can imagine / painfully remember, in several points of time and space, between last July and the tragic denouement of the Sevco ‘festival’ in George Square.
It may be worth getting a medicative beverage in hand before you read any further…
Griffiths left behind
July 2020 was a time of unbridled joy and optimism for the Celtic support. The inevitable 9-in-a-row had been called early due to COVID and we had spent several months engaging in schadenfreude at the expense of bleating Sevco fans trying to devalue the achievement by calling it 8.75-in-a-row.
(It is worth noting that they conveniently lost their calculators when counting their deceased team’s “54 titles”, including the one they literally shared with Dumbarton after only 19 games despite finishing in second place.)
That ninth title had been secured on the back of fit and firing partnership of Leigh Griffiths and Odsonne Edouard.
However, once the players came out of COVID hibernation it was apparent to management that Leigh Griffiths had been over-aestivating and wasn’t fit enough to even play his part as a sub or train with the team in a pre-season trip to France, so was left behind by Neil Lennon in an apparent headline-grabbing motivational move.
Griffiths has just finished the season with 901 minutes of football over 26 games, contributing 7 goals and 2 assists. He did not make the squad for Euro 2020.
On the 9th August 2020, Celtic dropped their first points of the league season in a 1-1 draw away to Kilmarnock. The next day, it emerged that COVIDiot Boli Bolingoli played the final 5 minutes of that game when he should have been self-isolating following an unauthorised jaunt to Spain to chase some tail. He understatedly described this as “a major error of judgement”. The result was a two-week hiatus of domestic football for Celtic, which saw us go from 1-point ahead of Sevco to 6-points behind without kicking a ball… Thanks again f**kface.
UEFA streamlined the delayed Champions League Qualifiers to one-leg affairs and Celtic had very favourable draws in this format with home games against KR Reykjavik and Ferencvaros in consecutive weeks, and a home tie against Dinamo Zagreb to follow if the Hoops had overcome their fellow green and white champions from Hungary.
On a night when Celtic had 71% of the possession and 28 shots at goal, Hatem Elhamed and Vasilas Barkas combined to sell the jerseys with 15 minutes remaining and knock tens of millions off our projected income for the year.
The most successful run of the season followed this gut-wrenching defeat as Celtic rhymed off 8 wins in a row between the end of August and start of October in less than convincing manner. This run included a 5-0 win away to Ross County in which the opposition manager described The Staggies as the “dominant team” that were undone by a penalty and a free-kick. This was also the only game of the season where 5m pound Vasilas Barkas decided to perform his goalkeeping duties.
Despite the unconvincing performances the winning run saw Neil Lennon awarded manager of the month for September 2020.
International Fixtures in a Global Pandemic
October saw 13 first-team Celtic players get on enclosed metal tubes, mix with footballers from various locales throughout the globe and fly around for hours on end whilst playing 3 games in one week.
In hindsight, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that we lost 4 players to COVID (3 infections and 1 isolation). Edouard, Christie, Elhamed and Bitton all missed the first Glasgow Derby of the season alongside the already injured stalwarts of Forrest and Jullien.
Celtic went into the game with a chance to return to the top of the table. Lennon selected a striking partnership of Klimala and Elyounoussi, while leaving Griffiths and Ajeti on the bench. The Bhoys lost the game to a Connor Goldson set-piece double without registering a shot on goal and fell four points behind Sevco.
This derby was the first game in a record-breaking run of 2 wins from 12 games between October and December which killed the season for Celtic.
We stumbled out of Europe with 4-1 defeats home and away to Sparta Prague.
We meekly surrendered our 35-game record-setting run of cup wins when Ross County triumphed 2-0 at Celtic Park.
The most steadfast Lennon supporters eventually caved and admitted that enough was enough when Celtic drew 1-1 at home to St. Johnstone in early December to fall 13 points behind Sevco in the title race. This final straw for Celtic fans broke the camel’s back and saw a vicious reaction from fans as they attacked the team bus in the aftermath.
However, this wasn’t a breaking point for The Board, who reportedly entrenched their arrogant and baffling support of Lennon in response to the protests.
The only bright spot of the season was belatedly completing the Club’s incredible Quadruple Treble even though the team came as close to losing the Final as you can without actually losing – to lower league opposition.
One of the speculated reasons for Lennon surviving through November and December was the sentimental factor around being given a chance to win his first Treble as manager. ‘The Lurgan Klopp’ drew on this sentimentality when starting Brown over the in-form Soro. This decision appeared vindicated as Celtic cruised into half-time 2-0 up without getting out of second gear, whilst the only fight shown by Hearts was from Gordon chucking a ball at Edouard for the audacity of scoring a penalty.
The game came alive when Hearts decided to put up a fight in the second half while Celtic stayed in second gear, losing their two goal lead and then losing the re-gained lead in extra-time.
After falling behind in the shoot-out, the Bhoys were two Hearts penalties away from losing Lennon’s ‘gifted’ Treble after a Christie miss, when Hazard rescued them by saving Hearts next two penalties before Ajer smashed home the winner.
The final flurry of optimism for Celtic supporters was experienced at half-time on 2nd January 2021 as we outplayed our rivals on their home turf for the opening 45 minutes. However, we truly Hibsed it, by reducing ourselves to ten men after an hour and scoring an own goal to lose 1-0 without Sevco registering a shot on target.
The poor decision-making and misery then cascaded from that point as Celtic took a full squad of players… including those who couldn’t walk… on an overseas training camp… in the middle of a global pandemic… just because no-one explicitly forbade them.
In previous seasons the team have come back energised and raring to go but this time they came back with two cases of COVID and eleven other first-team players in isolation. Money and time well-spent with the ultimate irony being that Patient Zero was the crippled Chris Jullien.
Young Cameron Harper filled in up front alongside Mikey Johnstone and Tom Rogic in the decimated team as three consecutive draws on their return led to the death and burial of Terry Munro.
Lennon out, Kennedy up
Celtic surprisingly managed to win 5 games in a row in February but there was no sense of optimism amongst even the most deluded of Celtic fans as the Sevco juggernaut kept winning unabated, with the support of the Scottish Freemason’s Association, as they completed a calendar year without conceding a penalty or receiving a red card in a league game. The inclement weather was drowned out by the thunderous noise of backslapping from lodges around Scotland.
The self-inflicted aspects of Celtic’s season-long downfall resurfaced when Lennon cost himself the February Manager of the Month Award as we crashed 1-0 away to Ross County on the end of this run.
Apparently, the earlier 2 wins in 12, nor the 1 win from 6 in January were enough to relieve Lennon of his position but the failure to win that February Manager of the Month award was just beyond the pale for the Irishman as he tendered his ‘resignation’ and Lawell / Desmond moved Kennedy up the next rung on the ladder of internal nepotistic ascension.
They think it’s all over…
Kennedy spoke well in interviews but despite a slight and temporary improvement in performances his walk failed to match his talk.
The league was officially over in record time on 3rd March, as we surrendered what we had held so tightly throughout the 2010s, with a feckless 0-0 draw at Dundee United. Riots and pyromania ensued on the streets of war-torn Glasgow as Govidiots celebrated their first ever top-flight honour with a cryptic use of the number 55 on British Union flags. Whilst it is not known, it is assumed that this represents the number of fingers and toes which the cousins Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip have combined.
At the end of all this there was still a cup to play for…
On the 3rd April, we went in to half-time tied 0-0 with lower league Falkirk having registered just 2 goals from our previous 100 shots on target counting back to February. We survived this ineptitude but crashed out the Scottish Cup in the next round to an overhead kick from a midget in his mid-30s and an own-goal from Everton’s Anthony Ralston.
The fly on top
The only thing left now was drive up the price of wantaway saleable assets, field loan players to avoid penalty fees and try to sour the unbeaten run of the Freemason’s Finest.
Kennedy achieved only one of these three targets, as Sevco stuck a big b**tard fly on the top of our stinking pile of sh*t season with their biggest ever win against Celtic when masonic debutant Nick Walsh reduced The Bhoys to ten men to trigger a 4-1 ‘Parade’ over the corpse of our dignity and pride.
We finished the season a whopping 25 points behind Sevco with 22 wins, 11 draws, 5 losses and no trophies for the first time in eleven years.
The Tory government got their anti-immigrant advert as globally-viewed scenes of chaos in George Square turned around more Mediterranean boats than Her Majesty’s Navy ever could, while hubris and hatred lauded triumphantly over the good guys.
At the time of writing, The Board have yet to appoint a successor to Lennon a full three months after he ‘resigned’ and nearly 6 months after the home cup exit to Ross County. They have dragged their reputations for competent governance to Kelly Family levels and have yet to issue a public utterance about next season.
We can only hope that the broken clock is truly replaced by Dominic McKay as it’ll be a while before enough time passes for it to be right again.