LATELY, whenever it rains at Celtic, it pours.
After a chaotic end to last season, which saw a number of exits at boardroom level, fan uproar and captain Scott Brown leave the club after 14 years, Celtic’s poor start to the new season has continued a quite remarkable fall from grace, only a year after they won a fourth consecutive treble.
For some Celtic fans, Neil Lennon’s exit last February was supposed to herald an upturn in fortunes, but the opening day defeat to Hearts which followed the club’s failure to qualify for the Champions League proper once again must have many realising there is no quick fix for this downward spiral.
The fact there was little surprise when Celtic lost out to Denmark’s FC Midtjylland in the Champions League last month shows how far the club has fallen.
There was a time that failure to reach the group stages of Europe’s premier competition was unthinkable for Celtic.
But after four years in the wilderness, it’s quickly becoming the norm.
New manager, Ange Postecoglou, has got some promise from his days as the head coach of Australia, but you sense the everyday pressures of managing a club like Celtic will stretch his credentials to the limit.
There should be some pity for the Australian, bearing in mind he has walked into a club with a new chief executive and a fanbase disillusioned by their team’s demise.
However, the haphazard defending on show during his first few matches in charge is not going to convince many that Celtic have unearthed a hero who can tackle champions Rangers.
Those in the boardroom at Parkhead will be hoping they haven’t made a mistake with Postecoglou similar to those errors made with player recruitment in recent years.
One of the main reasons Celtic find themselves in the mess they are in is because of the loss of key players such as Craig Gordon, Kieran Tierney, Jeremie Frimpong and Kristoffer Ajer. When big clubs in England and on the continent come calling for their players, Celtic aren’t able to compete with them these days.
We know that. But they could have done a better job of replacing their best players.
The likes of Albian Ajeti coming in from West Ham and Vasilis Barkas from AEK Athens haven’t quite cut the mustard.
Meanwhile this summer’s signings of Joe Hart and James McCarthy may look good on paper, but the lack of games played by both in recent years is a worry.
McCarthy, who has been dogged with injuries, featured only 17 times for Crystal Palace last season.
Whereas Hart has not played a game in the Premier League since 2019, despite spells at Burnley and Tottenham.
While both players may bring invaluable Premier League experience to the Celtic dressing room, the three and four-year contracts offered to 34-year-old Hart and 30-year-old McCarthy seem risky. There is still a chance, too, that star striker, Odsonne Edouard, could leave in the coming weeks.
With the team in a rut, Celtic can’t afford anymore misjudgement.