Two weeks on from Celtic’s disappointing exit against Malmo FF in The Champion’s League, and the detractors were well on their way murmuring about the state of Scottish football, and indeed that of Celtic..
But, there were no seismic aftershocks that are usually to be expected when the Champions of Scotland scupper out of the qualifying rounds. This time, there weren’t any fingers blamed & Celtic somewhat leveraged the costs of missing out of The Group Stages, with the sale of another player to Southampton. Dutch Centre-Half, Virgil Van Djik for around £11 million pounds. This Following the likes of former Celts; Victor Wanyama, and Fraser Forster to the English south-coast.
Dutch Centre-Back, Virgil Van Djik in his last colours for the club. Away against Malmo FF. Reuters
Of course, the club wasted no-time in finding a replacement. However, we weren’t expecting The Scottish Champions to be exactly shelling it out.
The U-21 Croatian international signed from Croatian Champs Dinamo Zagreb, Jozo Simunovic was signed as a direct replacement for £5.5 Million Pounds. Celtic haven’t spent this amount of cash since the days of Scott Brown – The current club captain. It is a risk, but the club’s scouts, do have a reputation for finding great buys.
They also brought in an U-21 from Manchester. Young defender, Tyler Blackett on-loan from Man United. Louis Van Gaal couldn’t guarantee last year’s part-timer, regular first team football. And having already replaced Manchester City defender Jason Denayer with the rocks & diamonds, Gary-Caldwell-like Dedryck Boyata, the club decided to approach the board at Old Trafford instead. Blackett follows the likes of United Wing-Back Saidy Janko to the club; the latter signing on a permanent deal.
Tyler Blackett: Signed on a season-long loan from Manchester United. BBC News.
European prospects? Celtic at-least get the chance to prove themselves in Europe in a much improved Europa League for 2016. Group B includes the likes of Ajax, Fenerbache & Molde of Norway: Who are no mugs themselves. It also means cheaper tickets if you want to catch a European tie for less than £50 quid. No doubt, Celtic Park will be jumping, bouncing and rumbling come November. That’s what the fans, not only loyal to Celtic – want to see.
Robin Van Persie is just one of the stars in-line to play Celtic for this seasons Europa League campaign. Reuters.
In the League. Whilst Rangers didn’t achieve promotion from The Championship on the back of their 2014/15 campaign, promoted Hearts will push Celtic for the title. Whilst it seemed questionable, that Hearts let key players leave the club: namely Brad McKay, Jason Holt (to Rangers) & club-captain Danny Wilson (to Rangers), the club has kept pace with Celtic and will give them food for thought when concentrating on domestic fixtures.
And let’s not forget the Dons. A straight 5/5 in the league at the beginning of the new year has spurned further talk of another title charge, where the club led at Christmas last year, but ultimately succumbed (0 from 4) in the games against the Celts last season. And like the 2014/15 Scottish Premiership campaign, additions of Graeme Shinnie and Kenny McLean from Inverness and St Mirren respectively will make things in the Premiership very interesting indeed.
Certainly, It is expected that Celtic will retain their title, but like last season, there will be many twists and turns in the top-flight before the race is run, even without the participation of Rangers; just yet.