The Scottish Premiership is all set to kick off this weekend and the reigning champions Celtic will start their season with a tough away tie against Hearts. Optimism surrounding Brendan Rodgers’ first season in charge of the Bhoys is certainly growing. Celtic have already kicked off their Champions League qualification campaign and have seen off Lincoln Red Imps and Astana to move just one round away from the Champions League group stage. Only the final playoff stands in the Hoops’ way of making it to the group stage of the Champions League.
Celtic are boasting five straight Premiership titles as they head into the season and not being able to continue the streak would count as a failure from Rodgers. Keeping their hold on to the Premiership title would be the biggest priority but won’t as straightforward task as it has been for the last few seasons as rivals Rangers are back into the picture showing a real intent.
Even though retaining the Premiership would be the biggest priority, Rodgers has to ensure that he can help the Bhoys to take the next step forward, something his predecessor Ronny Deila tried and failed. Celtic has to look for glory at least in one domestic Cup competition and also a decent showing in Europe.
Celtic haven’t really stormed the transfer market so far. There have been only three additions to the side, two of them done by Rodgers while the deal for Kristoffer Ajer was done by Deila in January.
Stefan Scepovic to Getafe CF (1,20 Mill. €)
Anthony Stokes to Blackburn (Free transfer)
Stuart Findlay to Newcastle United (Free transfer)
Michael Duffy to Dundee FC (Loan)
Paul McMullan to Dunfermline Athletic (Loan)
Fiacre Kelleher to Peterhead FC (Loan)
Jamie Lindsay to Greenock Morton (Loan)
Carlton Cole (Released)
Review of Celtic’s business so far
When a new manager takes charge at a new club, we expect to see plenty of signings but that has not been the case for Rodgers at Celtic. Although, the fans should not be too concerned about that. Celtic already had a deep squad and a quality one too. After all, winning five straight titles isn’t a cakewalk. Rodgers has done his business as per the team’s needs. The Bhoys needed a quality central defender and Rodgers brought in experienced Kolo Toure who still can do a great job in the Premiership even at the dusk of his career.
Signing Moussa Dembele was a massive statement of intent from Celtic. The young Frenchman’s contract at Fulham expired in the summer and plenty of big clubs were in the race for his signature. Celtic beating a few big boys of England for Dembele’s signature was one hell of a signing. Ajer, on the other hand, is also a quality addition and one for the future.
Tactics and Formation
Brendan Rodgers opted for a 3-5-2 formation during the pre-season and in the two games against Lincoln Red Imps. However, in the two games against Astana, Rodgers played 4-4-2 and 4-2-3-1 respectively. So quite clearly, the Northern Irishman is still looking for the best possible chemistry. The former Liverpool manager has plenty of options at his disposal right now and can switch his tactics as needed.
Celtic’s job won’t be as easy as it had been for the last few seasons. Rangers will definitely take the title challenge down to the wire, something Hearts and Aberdeen couldn’t manage. Celtic are definite frontrunners for the title this season and Rodgers will aim for glory in either Scottish Cup or Scottish League Cup or even both.