Thanks to four impressive wins on the bounce Celtic stepped into the winter break with their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership intact and can now regroup and refocus for the challenges that the second half of the season will present.
Whether we do so with the “quality” additions that Brendan Rodgers has requested remains an unanswered question at this stage, but with a week of the January window already passed some of us are already beginning to get anxious.
It’s certainly not time to push the panic button just yet, but always handy to keep it close at hand should it be required as we approach February!
In the meantime let’s review Celtic’s half-season highlights so far.
Season So Far (Mark Out Of 10)
This would have to go down as a 7 and it feels like we’re very much in the “good but must do better” camp at this stage in the campaign.
Whilst there’s been undoubted highlights in the shape of home and away wins v Rangers as well as a very credible draw with Atletico Madrid, that’s been offset but another poor European campaign overall as well as domestic defeats by Kilmarnock (twice!) and Hearts.
Let’s hope for more consistency in the second half of the campaign.
Credible mention goes to Liam Scales, a player who’s taken us all by surprise but there can only really be one player who takes the acclaim here.
Matt O’Riley has been a revelation since arriving at Celtic and only seems to be getting better with each passing week. The 23 year old now has 10 goals and 10 assists for the season to date and Celtic’s biggest January challenge could be holding on to the Danish international.
An absolute standout and a very balanced young guy into the bargain. Let’s hope he’s at Celtic Park for a while to come yet.
Most Disappointing Player
Whether down to fatigue or returning from injury too soon (or perhaps a combination of both) Alistair Johnston has failed to replicate the qualities he showed since his arrival following the World Cup in Qatar.
However, the Canadian is an extremely popular character with fans and the hope is he’ll come back refreshed and ready to go following the break.
Probably best that he leaves the handling in the box to Joe Hart for the rest of the season too.
It was never going to be easy for Brendan Rodgers to make his return and some fans still remain reluctant to forgive and forget but I’d score his performance as a solid 8 out of 10.
Losing Jota, Aaron Mooy and Carl Starfelt was always going to prove tricky, and replacing with a batch of development players felt like the manager had been short changed by the powers that be.
Despite this he still managed to put up some very credible performances at Champions League level (despite disappointing results) and ultimately has led us back to the top of the table whilst continuing to dominate against our biggest rival.
Some domestic performances have been sluggish but with mainstays such as Reo Hatate, Liel Abada, Daizen Maeda and Cameron Carter-Vickers all missing for spells with injury I’m willing to give the manager a pass here.
Celtic tend to return well from the break, and again I’m hopeful that better options in terms of personnel will see the manager find more consistency.
Predicted Finish In Table
Celtic are once again in the driving seat to lift their 12th title in 13 seasons and that simply must be the number one aim. With new additions and a fresh focus after the break I expect Brendan Rodgers will pick up where he left on and will claim his fourth Scottish Premiership title in May.
Tune in now to the latest episode of The Celtic Exchange Weekly as we cover The Half-Season Review, Silence On Signings & Magic Memories
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