Celtic: A Post Mortem

Celtic crashed out of Europe last night after a heavy home defeat to AC Milan and the post mortems have begun into why this season was so much worse than last year.

The Celtic fans often sing about being faithful through and through which is admirable but it is difficult to do that when there is a feeling that the club didn't really help themselves along the way.

During the summer Celtic lost three key players.  Kelvin Wilson went to Nottingham Forest for family reasons and Victor Wanyama and Gary Hooper followed him south to the money, glamour and prestige of the Premier League.  I won't hold that against any of the players as sadly Celtic aren't in a position to compete financially with English clubs and the club made a huge profit on the deals.

Heading into this years campaign Celtic were without their first choice centre back, centre midfielder and striker from last years successful campaign.  Understandly, Neil Lennon hit the transfer market in search of reinforcements.

In came Virgil van Dijk, Nir Biton, Derk Boerrigter, Teemu Pukki and Amido Balde or as I like to call them "the bench."  If you take van Dijk out of the equation the other four have two starts and eight substitute appearances between them in the Champions League and that is nowhere near good enough.

Those five players cost in the region of £9m which is big money for a club like Celtic.  Money is scarce in Scottish football and when it's spent it needs to be spent wisely.  Last years success was built around a few quality players and instead of replacing them we have promoted last years bench and replaced them instead which has resulted in the club moving backwards.

Celtic's two goals in this years competition came from the penalty spot and a wicked deflection and when you look at their attacking options it's easy to see why.  Last year Neil Lennon choose Gary Hooper, Lassad, Miku, Tony Watt and Georgios Samaras ahead of Anthony Stokes.  This year Stokes started four and made one substitute appearance.  Stokes is a tryer but he wasn't good enough last year and now that four of the players ahead of him are unavailable he becomes first pick ahead of two guys who Lennon splashed the cash on this summer.  That is a serious cause for concern.

Looking ahead the biggest excitement in Celtic's season is the January transfer window and it's not in a positive way.  How many players will want to remain at the club?  I would be very surprised to see Fraser Forster stay and wouldn't be surprised if others join him.

Celtic will win the league and they have to make the Scottish Cup a priority but in reality it's European success that the fans and players crave and unfortunately we didn't put ourselves in a position to build on last years success.