OK, there’s a glitch in the matrix. Around this time last year, I was positively giggling in excitement at the prospect of Sol Campbell pulling on the Black and White shirt and running out for Notts. Now after that abysmal episode, and via former club Arsenal, it appears that Campbell is set to become an important part of my footballing life after all.

So how do I feel about Campbell at Paradise? Actually, providing he isn’t on a Bobo Balde style contract I’m quite happy. The club has been really struggling defensively, and has lacked a true commanding centre-half for a couple of seasons. Even at 35, Campbell still showed himself to be capable in the Premiership playing for Arsenal, so I see no reason why he couldn’t continue that at Celtic.

Look at our current list of central defenders and the one thing that is missing is experience. The two youngsters Thompson and Rogne have looked pretty decent, and with an experienced player like Campbell alongside them they will certainly develop quicker. After two seasons I’ve come to the opinion that Glenn Loovens isn’t any better than Gary Caldwell or Stephen McManus, and quite frankly that’s not good enough. I’m happy to give Hooiveld more time, but I think Loovens should be shown the door by the new manager.

But then we have to wonder who else is available. Lennon has publicly stated that he wants to bring Keane to the club on a permanent basis, but I honestly think that is simply a pipedream. Indeed, if that was going to happen he’d have been signed whilst still at Celtic Park, so I just don’t see it. Keane has been linked to both Aston Villa and Everton, and I think it is clear to see that we cannot match the financial clout of either of those two clubs.

However, I do see another 30 year old striker in the Premiership who isn’t getting a game, and could perhaps be tempted north. He has struggled with injury this year, and has been overlooked by his country for the World Cup. He’s also one of the top scorers in Premiership history. Guessed who it is yet? Michael Owen.

Unrealistic? I don’t think so. United will be looking to add to their front line this summer, and after Owen’s injury record they may consider cutting him off their wage bill. I honestly believe he’ll struggle to find a top 10 English club, yet Celtic could bring him in on a season-long loan or a free, and if we can keep him fit he’ll tear the SPL apart. Then there’s also the possibility of European football. One thing is for certain: if we can afford £3.8m for Marc Antoine-Fortune, we can afford Michael Owen’s wages!

Mind you, we may have our sights on another striker this summer, with Kris Boyd rumoured to make the move across the city. As much as I’d normally be against it, the amount of comedy us Bhoys will get out of it will make it worthwhile.

Mr Gilchrist, I’m looking at you…

Back in the hunt?

February 10, 2010

After the Kilmarnock game a week ago, I didn’t think I’d be writing this. And I know it could yet bite me on the backside, but as I type I just don’t care. My feelings have fluctuated from huge optimism to wanting to jump off a bridge when I consider Celtic’s season. However, a good result tonight against a well-organised Hearts side has seen us lay the ghost of last week, and that is boosted by Rangers dropping points at Motherwell.

Now, the lead is down to 8 points. Of course, if you read the papers many will tell you that the title is good as over, and we may as well give up the chase. Nonsense. However, it will take a degree of consistency on our part. A run similar to the one under Strachan where we put 7 wins together to nick the championship at the death.

However, if come the first day of next month we’ve put three wins together (against Aberdeen, Dundee United and Rangers) and are within 5 points of our Old Firm rivals, make no mistake about it, we’re in this title race. Indeed, with the strength of our squad, the ludicrous notion put forward by Lee McCullock last week may hold some water.

But there are a lot of ‘ifs’. Right now, despite the huge lead Rangers have, we can only worry about ourselves. That means working hard on the training ground to cut out silly mistakes. It also invariably means Robbie Keane taking the chances he’s currently missing, and possibly means ‘Mogga’ putting Rasmussen in the starting 11.

But whisper this quietly: if we’re 9 points better off come the 28th, we could just do this.

Keep the faith, Bhoys and Ghirls…

Keane mark 2

February 8, 2010

Sorry this is a bit late, I’ve been otherwise engaged. That generally involves eating biscuits and pretending to do DIY, but don’t tell the mrs. Anyway, to the football.

I’ll admit it. I was stunned to see Robbie Keane at Celtic Park on the transfer deadline day. It was a real coup for the club, and one which has certainly captured the imagination of the Celtic support, myself included.

I always thought we’d see Keane at Parkhead one day, but like his namesake Roy, I thought it would be at the twilight of his career. And I’d have hated him for it. I was never Roy Keane’s biggest fan, although I’ll admit that was because he played for Manchester United, but I certainly respected him. I respected him for what he gave on the pitch, his commitment, and most of all, his ability. My respect for him started to diminish after his tackle on Alf Inge-Haaland (remember him?) and it disappeared after his Celtic signing.

At 34, his legs had gone, and he knew it. He thought the SPL would be better for him, and he’d win a couple of medals. However, that’s where his thought process stopped. As a self-confessed fan, he COULD have signed for us at a stage where he was able to actually contribute for the club. After all, after his £100,000 a week wages at Old Trafford, he hardly needed the money, did he? It was no surprise then that his Celtic career lasted barely six months.

That’s where Robbie and Roy differ. Robbie has confessed we may only have him til the end of the season, but he’s arrived hungrier than ever. At 29, he’s at the peak of his career, and he may yet help us to at least one trophy this year.

Of course, like Roy his début was a nightmare. There was obvious complacency in our side and we got punished, losing 1-0 at Killie. Are we out the title race? By the end of the month we’ll have a clearer picture. If we take maximum points, beating Rangers along the way, you just don’t know. Certainly it was good to see Keane’s first goal for us yesterday, but I’ve been most impressed with Rasmussen. He’s found his feet quickly, scoring twice, and shows all the instincts of a predator.

However, I have concerns in other areas of the park. Defensively, we’re still shambolic, and considering we have an ex central defender as manager I still can’t fathom why. But my biggest concern is the form of Aiden McGeady. I’d suggest he needs a couple of games out the side, freshen him up, and get him ready for Ibrox at the end of the month.

After all, the next Old Firm game truly could decide the title. A defeat against a tiring Rangers side and it’s all over. A victory, and the chase is on. Let’s hope it’s the latter.

Oh, and those going to Celtic Park on Wednesday: make it like a  European night. We asked for a lift from the board and got it with Keano’s signing. Now lets do our bit and help the players get themselves on a winning run.

Keep the faith Bhoys and Ghirls, it’s not over yet.

“When you walk……”