Monday, September 26, 2022

Celtic A House of Cards As Rangers On Ascendancy Both On The Pitch And Off It

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Kenny Stewart
Chief Football writer for The 4th Official. Always honest and won't shy away from the truth.

Note: This article was first published on Patreon for our subscribers there yesterday night. 

I’m sitting here on my day off work mulling over the last couple of days since the game on Saturday. I’ve read and listened to as much of the aftermath of the Old Firm game on Saturday as I could so I decided to write something about it.

I think it suffices to say that it appears that Celtic fans haven’t taken the defeat particularly well and as ever they give their opponents no credit, nor are they prepare to acknowledge they were turned over and beaten by the better side on Saturday.

They (in the main) have realised Rangers controlled the match from kick-off to final whistle. The reasons for that are not clear to them, as yet.

For them it’s more about their manager and their players not turning up, so to speak. It’s about what their team did or didn’t do, not what their opponents did to their team. Nothing unusual or unique about that I suppose. I have some news for them, though. That is simply not true. Rangers didn’t need to get out of second gear to secure an easy victory at Celtic Park. Their second easy victory at that ground in successive league games. That incidentally is the first time a Rangers team has managed back to back league victories against Celtic in their own home since 1995.

I’ve listened and watched numerous podcasts. I’ve read a number of blogs and the one defining fact here is there’s a complete denial emanating from the green half of the city. They still believe they have a stronger first eleven when the statistics tend to dispute that.

They one hundred percent believe the Celtic squad is streets ahead in terms of quality in comparison to the Rangers squad. Another ‘fact’ most Rangers fans could easily argue is simply not the case.

They believe Connor Goldson is a poor man’s Shane Duffy. He most certainly is not. They’ll tell you Frimpong is the best right back in the league when he clearly isn’t. I even heard one podcaster claim Scott Arfield was a journeyman pro whilst proclaiming Ntcham was easily a better player than him.

Again  I have some news for those that think this way. I, and I would suggest most Rangers fans, would take Arfield over that lad one hundred times out of a hundred.

Scott Arfield has wracked up nearly five hundred professional appearances, half of them in the SPFL, almost a hundred of them in the EPL and the majority of the rest at the top end of the English Championship suggests someone that knows his way around a football pitch, lads…

I’m loving this delusion. This indignance. This blinkered view that convinces the majority of the Celtic support that nothing Rangers do is worthy of note or consideration.

Please keep that attitude. I really mean that, please do. Keep dismissing anything Rangers do as it only diverts your attention away from your own team’s deficiencies.

Rangers had a stronger first eleven out on Saturday. Granted, Christie and Edouard would have started for Celtic but out of the others missing? Well, Forrest or Frimpong and Elhamed or Bitton for the kid they started so no, not all those missing would’ve started the game at all.

It wouldn’t have made the slightest bit of difference to the result as Rangers control of the match was so steadfast and assured that they dictated the pace of the game and where it was played, both with and without the ball.

This is nothing new. We’ve watched it unfold for two and a bit seasons now.

Connor Goldson’s comments after the game were frank and brutal. He said that Rangers have been playing this way for over two years. He also pointed out that (and I thought this was key) they’ve played good teams during that spell, which for me was a wee hint that this Rangers team know Celtic have some good players, but frankly they’ve played better teams than this Celtic side since Gerrard became the Rangers manager. That was meant as no disrespect to their opponents on Saturday, but it gave an insight into the mindset of the Ibrox team.

They don’t fear this Celtic side. They respect them as they have good players, but they believe they’re every bit as good, if not better. I reckon they also believe they’re a better organised side, more disciplined team and the shape they play to is key to that.

I and just about every Rangers fan I know felt that game was there for the taking on Saturday. That was simply due to the knowledge that Rangers are playing reasonably well while Celtic struggle with the shape of their team and have players that aren’t performing to the levels Celtic fans expect them to.

A Tactical Breakdown Of How Rangers Outclassed Celtic - Goldson celebrates
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – OCTOBER 17: Connor Goldson of Rangers celebrates after scoring his team’s second goal during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Rangers at Celtic Park on October 17, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

That is the issue here for the green half of the city. Too busy over the last decade shouting about Rangers finances, too eager to believe their bloggers nonsense. Too keen to ignore the fact that Rangers started at ground zero and had to build their team and their business from the bottom up.

They’ve taken their eye off the ball. A delusional belief (spouted repeatedly online by high profile fans of theirs) that the financial gulf would mean that their team would never be caught, would never be surpassed and football superiority was here for all eternity for them to swan over and ram in our faces.

Eh, nope. Football doesn’t work that way. At this moment in time, Rangers have approximately the same number of international players in their squad; they have a strength in depth that when you looked at the benches on Saturday frankly looked at least as strong as their opponents.

Celtic had an eighteen-year-old in their defence on Saturday along with the lad Ralston on their bench. If that’s what you get for a sixty million quid wage bill then frankly I’ll take Rangers squad on half of that and take my chances, thank you very much, as it appears to have escaped Celtic fans attention that Rangers had eight, yes eight international players on their bench.

This is the thing Celtic fans refuse to see. Gone are the days of Rob Kiernan and Senderos. The Holt and Goss midfields are ghosts of the past; those days are gone. Forever.

Rangers have quality right through their squad now, and the disdain and disregard for Rangers among the Celtic rank and file is bordering on arrogance. No. Actually, it IS sheer arrogance. Nothing more and nothing less. An attitude that’s inexplicable to me. There’s no logical explanation for that kind of thinking when you look at the two teams, to be honest.

I even heard an ex-player of theirs this morning suggest that Rangers aren’t a good team. I mean, really?

Let’s take a quick browse over the teams that Rangers have beaten over the last couple of years and scan through the scalps they’ve taken then.. Osijek, Maribor, Rapid Vienna, unbeaten against Villareal, finished above Spartak Moscow in their group, Midtjylland, Legia Warsaw, Porto, Feyenoord, Braga, finished above Young Boys of Berne in their group and this season Willem11 and Galatasaray.

Now, excuse me if I’m wrong, but that seems like an impressive enough list of teams to me. Those are impressive results so can someone explain to me where Jackie McNamara’s notion that Rangers aren’t a good team comes from? The last seven league games against Celtic, Rangers have won four of them so if Rangers aren’t a decent side then what does that make this Celtic team?

Beating or competing in these games hasn’t been Rangers problem at all. It’s the games against the rest of the league where this Rangers squad has it all to prove. Consistency is paramount, and they have to make sure they find it and keep it up for the full season.

Eleven games into the league season, won nine, drawn two with nine clean sheets looks very good indeed but they have to do that over the course of an entire season. If they do, they will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.

Celtic, on the other hand, have to find a system that works. They have a manager who came out after their two losses this season and stated that there are a few players that don’t want to be there and there’s a mole that’s trying to “do him in” within the club.

Celtic Player Ratings Vs Rangers - Lennon looks on
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – OCTOBER 17: Neil Lennon, Manager of Celtic arrives at the stadium prior to the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Rangers at Celtic Park on October 17, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Well, I’ve got news for you, Neil. That mole has been sneaking about Parkhead since long before you returned pal, as teams were being announced on the Friday before when Brendan Rodgers was the manager.

I see Celtic fans lauding their signing policy too, and I look at their keeper Barkas, Klimala, Duffy, Laxalt and one or two others and see a downgrading of quality from where they expect to be or believe they actually are.

Add to that the time it seems to take them to get players up to speed in terms of fitness, and it looks to me as if Rangers have an opportunity here. But they have to prove they can find the consistency required over a thirty-eight game league season.

Can Rangers win the league? I’ll stick my neck out and say yes, absolutely they can. However, there will be points dropped by both sides over the next few months, but the thing I keep harking back to is the denial among the green half of Glasgow.

Underestimate Rangers. Dismiss them. Tell everybody via your blogs and podcasts that Rangers are rotten. Be complacent, show that arrogance that tells us all that not one Rangers player would get into the Celtic team or squad because that is the culmination of eight years of Sevcoing and waiting for admin number whatever to happen.

It isn’t happening; it really is time you Celtic fans got that into your heads, you know.

Rangers have brought in another investor, Stuart Gibson. Go check him out, see how much he’s worth and actually do a bit of homework on the people that are running the football club. Do some research on the people that are actually putting millions upon millions of pounds into Rangers Football Club.

Do some research on it; you’ll find it quite enlightening, I promise you.

Governance is not an issue. The mere fact that someone with the ability, vision and investment knowledge of Stuart Gibson has chosen now, right in the middle of a global pandemic to invest in Rangers should be reassuring to Rangers fans the world over. Meanwhile, on Planet Sevco their bloggers are suggesting Rangers are going bust. Again. It’s laughable, and there’s a reason why the Rangers (online) support lap this shit up now.

We mock those bloggers. We ridicule them and we hear or read about how Rangers are on the precipice of a financial collapse on a weekly basis.

Hey, bhoys… I have news for you… they most definitely are not. Not a chance of it, in fact, but please crack on with your nonsense. The more they write about us, the more they take their eyes off the ball with their own club, which is nice…

Lennon looking a mess on the day of the game. No shape to his team. No purpose. Easy to beat. A team that doesn’t look fit or organised. A manager that looks to me to believe that having better players than all the rest of the teams in the league will ultimately bring them the league title and to hang with tactics, fitness, systems or formations.

That would be true if it weren’t for the fact that the team across the city has a very good manager, wonderful coaches, look fitter, better organised and ultra-efficient while having built a squad that is, in my opinion anyway, at least as good Celtic’s.

Celtic’s signing policy over the last couple of years looks to me to be suspect. The players brought in simply don’t have the same quality of those they’re replacing. Add to that leaks about team selections and signing targets and all does not seem rosy in the Celtic garden.

There’s more too. Rumours of a set of bad accounts heading our way, partly due to Covid no doubt, will only put their board and CEO under more pressure.

Remember, it costs Celtic ninety million pounds just to break even. They’ve managed to offset any losses in the last two years while not qualifying for the Champions League by selling Dembele and Tierney.

Tierney and Dembele
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – JANUARY 30: Moussa Dembele of Celtic celebrates with teammate Kieran Tierney after he scores his team’s third goal during the Scottish Premier League match between Celtic and Heart of Midlothian at Celtic Park on January 30, 2018 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

They didn’t manage to do that this summer. No one wanted or offered enough for Edouard or any other supposed superstar they have in their team. That lack of sales plus Covid can only make this year (and next years for that matter) accounts look pretty damned ugly when they do eventually arrive.

Celtic financially have peaked. They are now about to hit a trough. It was inevitable, and I noticed that even one of their high profile delusional fans said something over the weekend that Celtic fans should consider and take in..

Roger Mitchell took to Twitter to tell us all that Rangers were a better team on the park and better run off the park.

Yes. He really did. Only months after the same guy was suggesting that Celtic should loan every club in Scotland money to see them through the pandemic.

Eh.. what’s changed Roger? What have you heard that’s made you change your opinion of how both clubs are being run so quickly?

Dave King said it. It was taken from a blog written by a Rangers fan. He said that all it would take is for Celtic not to win the league and the implications could be catastrophic for them.

A House of Cards he called it. People laughed at that and ridiculed it, but I’ll tell you what… He might well have been right, you know.

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