New look Celtic under Brendan Rodgers? How team could look with new signings Oliver Burke, Timothy Weah and Vakoun Issouf Bayo

7 Jan

Following a narrow victory in the Old Firm derby in December, Steven Gerrard has got Rangers fans dreaming of a first title since 2011.

Currently, the club sit second level on points with their bitter Glasgow rivals Celtic.

Brendan Rodgers won the domestic treble in his first season as Celtic manager and a year later guided them to their seventh consecutive title

However, Celtic will be determined not to give up their crown, especially to their rivals.

Rangers have been busy during the January transfer window by snapping up Steven Davis, while Jermain Defoe up front could be the difference in the title race.

Celtic, though, have responded to their rivals going for experience by recruiting youth.

Timothy Weah (PSG)

Yes, the former Ballon d’Or winner and President of Liberia George Weah’s son is on the verge of joining Celtic on loan from PSG, with the 18-year-old preparing to fly to Dubai for a medical where the Hoops are training.

Rodgers has been an admirer of the raw talent and potential Weah has in his arsenal, which became apparent after the player visited Rodgers with his representatives at the start of the domestic season to talk about the potential of a short term move to the Scottish champions.

Weah, understandably falls a fair way down the pecking order at PSG, but training with Killian Mbappe and Neymar will have taught him a lot and the American could prove to be a key acquisition for Rodgers going forward. Since losing Moussa Dembele to Lyon in the summer, their threat in the attacking third has diminished slightly.

Naturally, Weah will want to be used as a central striker but has often been deployed on the right hand side as a winger due to his pace and ability to beat a man one-on-one.

Vakoun Issouf Bayo (Dunajska Streda)

Bayo made his debut for the Ivory Coast in October 2018, playing in back to back friendlies against Central Africa

Another attacking player who is supposedly close to moving to Celtic Park is striker Issouf Bayo, who plays for Slovakian side Dunajska Streda.

The Celtic board have been in a battle with Italian side Parma, Dinamo Kiev and Rapid Vienna for the signing of Bayo who is just 21 years of age, and is rumoured to cost Celtic around £2million.

This season, the young Ivorian has been involved in 25 goals in 23 appearances for the Slovakian side- 18 goals and seven assists.

Oliver Burke (on loan from West Brom)

Burke became, and is still, the most expensive Scottish player after a transfer from RB Leipzig in Germany to West Brom in 2017 for £15million

Celtic completed the loan move for Burke in early January, taking him from Championship side West Brom for the rest of the season.

A move to Celtic is a favourable one for both club and Burke himself, having made five appearances for the Scottish national team and captained his side at Under-21 level.

The new signing talked about his delight at the thought of playing on home soil via his official Twitter account:

“He’s a talented young player but there has been a little gap of games for him,” West Brom boss Darren Moore said. “Celtic are a big club. He’ll be in the right environment and we’ll be keeping close tabs.

“It’s vital he gets that development and understanding and we believe he’s at the right club to get it.”

Celtic captain Scott Brown, meanwhile, has been linked with a move to Australian side Western Melbourne.

Brown 33, has made 493 appearances for Celtic and his contract is set to expire in May this year.

But it seems Celtic will be keeping their captain for the remainder of his deal as funding for Melbourne to nab their ‘Marquee signing’ was not permitted by the the Football Association Australia [FFA].

Potential Starting XI:

New faces mean strong competition for places. Burke, Weah and Bayo would be competing for places with Scott Sinclair, James Forrest and Odsonne Edouard, the top scoring player with 14 goals this season.

Weah and Burke are versatile players able to play anywhere across a front line, with Burke suited to play a role in a midfield three for Rodgers if needed, which may well be the case going into the final 17 fixtures of the domestic season.

Certainly the addition of more players capable of rotating with Edouard will give the Frenchman a much-needed rest given he has already played 32 games across all competitions so far.

A potential line-up for Celtic at the end of the January transfer window

Neil Lennon says Steven Gerrard has done a ‘fantastic job’ at Rangers and reckons gap to Celtic is closing

14 Aug

Hibernian manager Neil Lennon has praised Steven Gerrard’s impact on Rangers and predicts this Scottish Premiership season will be much more competitive.

Celtic have won the top flight for the last seven seasons, securing back-to-back domestic trebles under Brendan Rodgers, but Lennon is certain the gap to the Hoops is closing.

Celtic clinch their seventh consecutive league title

The Hibernian manager, who led Celtic to title glory in 2011/12 and 2012/13, told Jim White on talkSPORT: “I think the league was very competitive last year, but there’s no question that Rangers are stronger this year, Aberdeen will have a say in it, and Hearts look very strong this year.

‘’So the competition is getting stronger, the league is getting sexier again with a lot of big clubs bang at it again.

‘’Celtic have been the dominant team and I think they will continue to be that, but I think everyone is starting to build and get closer to that.’’

Will Steven Gerrard’s side challenge for the title this season?

Celtic will bid to keep alive their Champions League group stage hopes on Tuesday night, but face a tough task having drawn against AEK Athens at home in the first leg of their third qualifying round.

talkSPORT presenter Jim White believes Rodgers could end his reign as Celtic boss should they fail to qualify, but Lennon would be surprised if he walked away.

“His record has been remarkable in the two season he has been there,” said Lennon. “He has come out and said he is happy and we have to take him at as his word.”

Lennon went on to praise Rangers new boss Gerrard, who has yet to taste defeat in seven matches in charge and led the club to victory over Maribor in the first leg of their Europa League qualifying third round clash last week.

‘’Steven has done a fantastic job so far,” said Lennon.

“The 3-1 first leg lead was a tremendous result considering that he has had to bring in a lot of players and he’s building his own squad and they’ve given themselves a real foothold in the tie.

“It’s not over yet but defensively Rangers have looked very strong so far.’’

 

Celtic criticise Rangers’ Old Firm ticket cuts for away fans as Scottish Premiership champions call for talks to resolve issue

27 Jul

Celtic have proposed the idea of opening talks between themselves, Rangers and Scottish league officials over a ticket row which looks set to dramatically change the atmosphere at their derby matches.

The Hoops swiftly vowed to reciprocate Rangers’ sudden declaration to end the mutual agreement which allowed more than 7,000 away fans attend games at Ibrox and Parkhead respectively.

The first Old Firm of the 2018/19 season will take place at Parkhead on September 2

Celtic have now confirmed they will follow suit on Rangers’ plans to offer about 800 tickets to their Glasgow rivals but have called for dialogue on the matter involving the Scottish Professional Football League.

A club statement read: “Celtic Football Club has confirmed that it will issue approximately 800 tickets to visiting supporters for the fixture against Rangers at Celtic Park on September 2. This mirrors the decision announced recently by Rangers.

“This is not a development we welcome and it is unfortunate that the initial decision came without any form of discussion. The previous arrangements worked well for both sets of supporters as well as contributing to the status of the fixture as a sporting occasion.

“Following the unilateral action by Rangers, we cannot allow our own supporters to be doubly penalised, by having access to the away fixture reduced so dramatically, while not being offered the opportunity to maximise our own support at Celtic Park.

“The rules of the SPFL call for ‘reasonable’ provision to be made for visiting supporters, without being specific on numbers. Within that context, we would welcome further discussions involving the two clubs and the SPFL.

“Celtic’s decision relates, at this stage, to the match on September 2, 2018.

“Meanwhile, Celtic will closely monitor the implications for crowd management and other factors surrounding these fixtures. We will at all times be guided by the interests of our own supporters and the reputation of Scottish football.”

Elsewhere, Jozo Simunovic has been ruled out of Celtic’s second leg against Rosenborg after being handed an extra one-match suspension.

The centre-back served an automatic ban in the 3-1 first-leg victory in the Champions League second qualifying round after being sent off against Alashkert in the previous round.

Simunovic walks off the pitch after seeing red against Alashkert

But UEFA’s control, ethics and disciplinary body (CEDB) has decided his high challenge warranted further punishment.

A UEFA statement read: “The CEDB has decided to suspend the Celtic player Simunovic Jozo for two UEFA competition matches. The player has already served one match and will therefore be suspended for the next match for which he would be otherwise eligible.”

 

Celtic fixtures for 2018/19 Scottish Premiership season, including Old Firm dates

15 Jun

Celtic start their Scottish Premiership defence against Livingston on 4 August.

Brendan Rodgers’ side are aiming to make it eight league titles in a row, having swept aside the competition once again last term to win the double treble.

As well as the league, both the Scottish Cup and Scottish League Cup were retained by Celtic who beat Motherwell in both finals at Hampden Park, while they clinched the title by beating rivals Rangers 5-0; the first time in 39 years the club won the league in a derby.

Celtic made it seven titles in a row last season

The first Old Firm derby is on 1 September and sees Ibrox manager Steven Gerrard face Brendan Rodgers, his boss during their time at Liverpool.

AUGUST

04/08/2018: Livingston (H)
11/08/2018: Hearts (A)
25/08/2018: Hamilton Accies (H)

SEPTEMBER

01/09/2018: Rangers (H)
15/09/2018: St Mirren (A)
22/09/2018: Kilmarnock (A)
29/09/2018: Aberdeen (H)

Glasgow derby games

01/09/2018: Rangers (H)

29/12/2018: Rangers (A)

30/03/2019: Rangers (H)

OCTOBER

06/10/2018: St Johnstone (A)
20/10/2018: Hibernian (H)
27/10/2018: Motherwell (H)
31/10/2018: Dundee (A)

NOVEMBER

03/11/2018: Hearts (H)
10/11/2018: Livingston (A)
24/11/2018: Hamilton Accies (A)

DECEMBER

01/12/2018: St Johnstone (H)
05/12/2018: Motherwell (A)
08/12/2018: Kilmarnock (H)
15/12/2018: Hibernian (A)
22/12/2018: Dundee (H)
26/12/2018: Aberdeen (A)
29/12/2018: Rangers (A)

Celtic captain Scott Brown won the Players’ Player of the Year last season

JANUARY

23/01/2019: St Mirren (H)
26/01/2019: Hamilton Accies (H)

FEBRUARY

02/02/2019: St Johnstone (A)
06/02/2019: Hibernian (H)
16/02/2019: Kilmarnock (A)
23/02/2019: Motherwell (H)
27/02/2019: Hearts (A)

MARCH

09/03/2019: Aberdeen (H)
16/03/2019: Dundee (A)
30/03/2019: Rangers (H)

APRIL

03/04/2019: St Mirren (A)
06/04/2019: Livingston (H)

Celtic fans hope Brendan Rodgers is there for 10 in a row