It wasn’t quite a summer of discontent on Kerrydale Street, but fans of Scottish football’s perennial domineering force have spent their pre-season bemoaning an apparent lack of sufficient first-team reinforcements.
This may surprise observers from beyond the Parkhead bubble. What can Celtic fans possibly have to complain about when their club have won a glorious nine domestic trophies on the bounce?
Celtic’s very own holy trinity of trebles will forever be spoken of in the same vein as the 7-1 game, Lisbon, 9-in-a-row and when ten men won the league – it has taken its rightful place in Celtic’s gallery of near-mythical accomplishments.
But we are now five games into a new campaign and the memory of Neil Lennon’s prodigal return, of Mika Lustig’s final act as a Celtic player, of Odsonne Edouard’s clinical execution to clinch unthinkable glory, are already gathering dust in the illustrious Celtic chronicles.
Two Champions League qualifiers negotiated, five competitive games won and seven goals scored in the domestic curtain-raiser are an impressive opening salvo for Neil Lennon as his side enters 2019/20 in impressive form.
Can his side make it six wins in six when they travel to the historical province of Transylvania to meet Romanian champions, CFR Cluj? A Celtic State of Mind’s writers have their say:
CFR Cluj will undoubtedly provide Celtic with their sternest challenge yet on Wednesday night as the Bhoys travel to Romania full of confidence following the Flag Day demolition of St Johnstone.
I fully expect Celtic to have to adapt to a different style in Cluj and would anticipate a back five of Elhamed, Ajer, Jullien, Jozo and Bolingoli with Edouard playing the lone striker role that we have seen adopted in Europe on previous occasions. Midfield could be the area that Celtic could look to boss in the game and big performances are needed from McGregor, Brown and Ntcham.
The game could be a big chance for Mikey Johnston to cement his place as a starter going forward and a goal on Wednesday night would go a long way to doing that. The game will be very tight, and it could be the odd goal here or there that decides the tie over two legs.
My FansBet prediction for Wednesday is Celtic to Draw 1-1 and Mikey Johnston to score anytime.
FC Cluj are a name who seem to be there or thereabouts every season. A dangerous name. Celtic are also like that. A name that has historical connotations on which judgements are based.
They will be a better standard than most clubs in Scotland and, while not an elite club, are dangerous at this level. They have an experienced squad, who have beaten two seeded sides, and are not afraid to be physical. Celtic like to attack and, while away goals are nice, not being out the tie before the second leg is vital.
Under Brendan Rodgers, we had the same approach to all European games. We struggled to keep possession. His two out of three qualifications for the group stages show that his approach was successful but Neil Lennon also has a two out of three qualifications. He has a realistic rather than idealistic style.
This game will be tight with both teams looking to make sure first and foremost that they have a chance in the second leg. With that I predict a 1-1 draw with Eduoard scoring for Celtic.Listen to the award-winning A Celtic State of Mind podcast