Feb 292016
 

Twitter Quiz 3

 

 

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the next installment of our monthly quiz.

Below, any of you who missed the quiz on Twitter will be able to find all of the questions as always.

The answers can be found at the very bottom of this page, so as not to ruin it for anyone who wants to show the quiz to a family member or friend etc.

Also, should anyone who missed the earlier quizzes fancy a go at them, they can be found by clicking the following links: Quiz 1 and Quiz 2.

Thank you, as ever, for your participation. Here’s hoping for a successful end to the 2015-16 season.

 

Questions

 

1. Only two of Celtic’s ten most expensive signings to date occurred in the 1990’s, but which players were involved?

 

2. Who is this?

 

quiz7e

 

3. Which Celtic player, now known by another surname, was initially named “Byrne” whilst an infant?

 

4. True or false – Celtic have never lost a Scottish Cup tie by more than a three goal margin.

 

5. Who is this?

 

quiz7c

 

6. Which ex-Celt was nicknamed “Mad Dog”?

 

7. Prior to Henrik Larsson’s 35 league goals in the 2000/01 campaign, who were the last three Celts to finish as the competition’s top goalscorer with a total of 30 plus?

 

8. Who is this?

 

quiz7a

 

 

9. Gary Hooper scored all five goals in a league match against Hearts, but who was the last Celt to score five or more goals in a competitive match prior to the Englishman’s feat?

 

10. True or false – Lee Naylor and Efe Ambrose have made more appearances for Celtic combined than Bertie Auld did alone.

 

11. Who is this?

 

quiz7b

 

12. According to the Celtic Wiki, only four Italians have ever played a senior competitive match for Celtic – can you name them?

 

13. True or false – Willie Maley managed Celtic Football Club for a longer period than current boss Ronny Deila has been alive.

 

14. Who is this?

 

quiz7d

 

15. Henrik Larsson made more appearances than any other Celt hailing from outwith Scotland, England, Ireland or Wales, but which overseas player is second to the Swede in this regard?

 

Answers

 

 

1. Only two of Celtic’s ten most expensive signings to date occurred in the 1990’s, but which players were involved? – Eyal Berkovic (£5,750,000) and Alan Stubbs (£3,500,000). N.B.: For those of you who said Rafael Scheidt, Wikipedia has the transfer listed as going through on the first of January 2000.

 

2. Who is this? – Wakaso Mubarak

 

quiz7eoriginal

 

3. Which Celtic player, now known by another surname, was initially named “Byrne” whilst an infant? – Anthony Stokes, originally called “Anthony Byrne”.

 

4. True or false – Celtic have never lost a Scottish Cup tie by more than a three goal margin. – False. Although this is listed as being the case on one of Celtic’s official Wikipedia pages, Scottish Cup hammerings have been known to happen, with a 4-0 loss to Rangers in the Scottish Cup Final of 1928 perhaps being the most prominent, although some older readers may recall the 4-0 semi-final defeat of 1959 against St. Mirren.

 

5. Who is this? – Billy Stark

 

quiz7coriginal

 

6. Which ex-Celt was nicknamed “Mad Dog”? – Stephane Mahe

 

7. Prior to Henrik Larsson’s 35 league goals in the 2000/01 campaign, who were the last three Celts to finish as the competition’s top goalscorer with a total of 30 plus? – Brian McClair (35, 1986/87), Bobby Lennox (32, 1967/68) and Joe McBride (31, 1965/66). N.B.: Joe McBride shared this accolade with Alexander Ferguson of Dunfermline at the end of the 1965/66 season, so if we were to exclude him based on this, the next Celt to win this title outright whilst scoring 30 plus league goals would be James McGrory (50, 1935/36).

 

8. Who is this? – Jo Inge Berget

 

Celtic v Maribor - UEFA Champions League Qualifying Play-Offs Round: Second Leg

 

9. Gary Hooper scored all five goals in a league match against Hearts, but who was the last Celt to score five or more goals in a competitive match prior to the Englishman’s feat? – Dixie Deans (6), versus Partick Thistle, 17th November 1973

 

10. True or false – Lee Naylor and Efe Ambrose have made more appearances for Celtic combined than Bertie Auld did alone. – False, but not by as large a margin as you might think. Bertie made 279 appearances in all major competitions for Celtic, whilst Lee Naylor made 100 and Efe Ambrose has made 159. However, should Efe go on to make 21 more competitive outings in the Hoops, this statistic will fall.

 

11. Who is this? – Frank Haffey

 

quiz7boriginal

 

12. According to the Celtic Wiki, only four Italians have ever played a senior competitive match for Celtic – can you name them? – Massimo Donati, Enrico Annoni, Paolo Di Canio and Rolando Ugolini.

 

13. True or false – Willie Maley managed Celtic Football Club for a longer period than current boss Ronny Deila has been alive. – True, whilst Willie Maley managed Celtic for more than 42 years, Ronny Deila is just 40 at this moment in time.

 

14. Who is this? – Shaun Maloney

 

quiz7doriginal

 

15. Henrik Larsson made more appearances than any other Celt hailing from outwith Scotland, England, Ireland or Wales, but which overseas player is second to the Swede in this regard? – Stiliyan Petrov. Whilst Henrik turned out 315 times for Celtic, the Bulgarian ran him a very close second, eventually finishing his Celtic career with 311 competitive outings for the Celts.

 

Feb 042016
 

Another 2-1 Loss at Pittodrie Narrows Gap to Three Points

 

 

In light of Celtic’s defeat last night at Pittodrie, I would expect that the Celtic support will not be short of opinion pieces to digest in whichever form of media is their respective preference today. With this firmly in mind, I intend to keep this article fairly short.

Currently, taking an average from the start of this season until now, Celtic are conceding one goal for every 7.55 attempts which their opponents achieve. However, at this stage last season, with forty games having been played in all competitions, the equivalent statistic was one goal conceded for every 10.97 attempts an opponent may have. Whilst it would be naive to blame the team’s results on any one aspect of their play, I cannot emphasise the importance of this statistic enough. Celtic are not only conceding more goals than they did this season, they are conceding them far more easily, and this is a matter of the utmost concern. Don’t forget, in sixty-one competitive matches during the last campaign, the Hoops conceded forty-four goals. This season, we’ve now lost forty-two goals in forty competitive matches, and it’s only the start of February. Indeed, in our last two matches, our opponents managed a combined total of fourteen attempts, ten of which were on target, with five resulting in goals. The Celts, on the other hand, had twenty-two attempts, eleven of which were on target, scoring just twice.

 

 

Conversely, the team’s attacking department (although far from perfect), have marginally improved their performances this season, scoring ninety goals in forty matches whilst they managed eighty in the same period last time around. However, this is not only down to them being marginally more prolific in front of goal in terms of taking chances (one in 7.23 attempts scored this season versus one in 7.91 at this point previously), but also because they have managed to have produce attempts and shots on target than they did last season. Critically though, attempts are one thing, but clear cut chances – which were sorely lacking last night – are something else entirely. After all, Celtic had eight shots last night whilst Aberdeen managed seven, but who do you think posed the biggest threat going forward?

The irony of all this is that worries are rife within the Celtic support whilst our main striker, Leigh Griffiths, is on course to have the best goalscoring season of any Celtic player since Henrik Larsson. Of course, with the greatest respect to Griffiths, I would not put him in the same class as the Swede, but the point stands. He is just three goals away from equaling the best season returns of both Gary Hooper and Scott McDonald in the Hoops (thirty-one goals in fifty-one and fifty-two appearances respectively), With a remarkable twenty-eight goals in thirty-four appearances, Griffiths either scores or assists once for every 75.88 minutes (on average) he plays this season, whilst his twenty-one league goals represent a higher total than that of his four nearest teammates combined (Tom Rogic, six; Nir Bitton, five; Kris Commons, four; and Nadir Ciftci, four; a total of nineteen in all). No Celt other than Griffiths has hit double figures in the goal charts in all competitions during the 2015/16 campaign, with Kris Commons being the closest with nine. Granted, Leigh Griffiths may not be perfect, but I dread to think where we would be at present without him.

 

 

Celtic’s remaining SPFL fixtures, prior to the split of the league, are as follows: Ross County (H), Inverness Caledonian Thistle (H), Hamilton Academical (A), Dundee (H), Partick Thistle (A), Kilmarnock (A), Heart of Midlothian (H), and Motherwell (A). There will also be a trip to Dens Park to face Dundee, although following the postponement of the original tie, a new date is still to be confirmed. Celtic have yet to defeat Hearts or Kilmarnock in the league this season, whilst Motherwell have already beaten us at home, Ross County triumphed in the recent Scottish League Cup semi-final fixture, and Partick Thistle lost only to a last minute winner in the New Year. On paper, these should be eight games wherein we target eight victories, but when one considers that we have only managed to keep four clean sheets in all competitions since we hammered Dundee United by five goals to nil on the twenty-fifth of October (a total of eighteen matches), this could prove a very difficult task. Unless we can find a way to solidify the defence, particularly whilst Jozo Simunovic is out for approximately six weeks, we will continue to rely on the attack and Leigh Griffiths to get us through the months ahead.

Something is wrong at Celtic Football Club, but in all likelihood that “something” is a conglomeration of numerous factors. Personally, I do not believe Ronny Deila will be sacked presently, although that it is simply speculation on my part. However, I do feel that he is on the proverbial brink, and should – for argument’s sake – Celtic lose their next league fixture and Aberdeen win to bring themselves level with us on points, this may change. Fundamentally, the hierarchy at Celtic Park must know all too well that if the unthinkable were to happen and the Hoops were to fail to win the league title, there would be widespread calls – quite correctly – for their departure from the Football Club as well as that of the manager. They will not allow that to happen without throwing the dice and changing the manager, but this will all depend on when they believe the severity of the situation to be so great that they have no choice but to gamble.

I still maintain the sincere hope that Celtic will retain the league title and win as many of their remaining matches as possible, but hope can only get us so far. The pressure is building at Celtic Park, and whether it’s results, form, attitude, strategy, the manager, the coaching staff or the hierarchy, something must change to allow this pressure a release. Let’s hope it’s the former.

 

Feb 012016
 

A Brief Look at Celtic’s Recent Striking Transfer Dealings

 

 

Throughout the vast majority of Ronny Deila’s tenure as Celtic manager, his team have played with a solitary striker, much to the chagrin of numerous supporters. At present, Leigh Griffiths is undeniably the main attacking threat at the Football Club, with Colin Kazim-Richards apparently inbound before the transfer window closes later tonight. Kazim-Richards will be one of three strikers currently at the Football Club (excluding youths and development squad players), alongside Carlton Cole and the aforementioned Griffiths. Three strikers are currently out on loan also, with Nadir Ciftci headed for Turkey, Anthony Stokes at Hibernian, and Stefan Scepovic with Getafe in Spain. Understandably, many would fear how the present squad would cope should a serious injury befall Griffiths, who has proven himself to be a far better striker than I, and perhaps many other people, thought he could ever be when he signed for Celtic a couple of years ago.

However, the primary purpose of this article is not to cover these topics in-depth, but rather to consider Celtic’s recent history in the transfer market when trading in strikers, a good example of whom is most certainly a valuable commodity in the modern footballing world.

 

 

From the time of Tony Mowbray through to the current day, Celtic have signed fifteen notable strikers, whilst bringing another four in on loan. In total, these moves have cost the Football Club approximately £20,900,000 in transfer fees, each of which is listed below.

In: Morten Rasmussen (£1,300,000), Marc-Antoine Fortune (£3,800,000), Tony Watt (£100,000), Anthony Stokes (£1,200,000), Gary Hooper (£2,400,000), Daryl Murphy (£800,000), Mohamed Bangura (£2,200,000), Lassad Nouioui (Free), Leigh Griffiths (£1,000,000), Holmbert Fridjonsson (£100,000), Teemu Pukki (£2,400,000), Amido Balde (£1,800,000), Stefan Scepovic (£2,300,000), Carlton Cole (Free) and Nadir Ciftci (£1,500,000).

In (Loan): Robbie Keane, Pawel Brozek, Miku and John Guidetti.

Conversely, ten of these fifteen men have now departed Celtic Park, bringing in £9,950,000 in transfer fees, with each of the loan quartet also heading back to their parent clubs and another three being sent out on loan themselves.

Out: Marc-Antoine Fortune (£2,500,000), Morten Rasmussen (£250,000), Mohamed Bangura (Free), Lassad Nouioui (Free), Gary Hooper (£5,500,000), Daryl Murphy (Free), Tony Watt (£1,200,000), Amido Balde (Free), Holmbert Fridjonsson (Free), Teemu Pukki (£500,000).

Out (Loan): Anthony Stokes, Stefan Scepovic, Nadir Ciftci.

 

 

This represents a financial loss of almost £11,000,000, but there is much more to these lists than that. Firstly, they highlight that we have only made a profit on two of these players, Gary Hooper (£3,100,000 profit) and Tony Watt (£1,100,000 profit), with the rest culminating in losses, or parity in the case of Lassad Nouioui. Indeed, the signings of Amido Balde, Holmbert Fridjonsson, Mohammed Bangura and Daryl Murphy were particularly disastrous, with a total of £4,900,000 being spent without a single penny being taken in return. The last of these men is now proving his relative worth by scoring regularly in the Championship with Ipswich Town, but no matter.

Of course, the success of strikers cannot merely be quantified, even amid the so-called “moneyball” strategy, in terms of transfer fees paid and received. There is also their on-field endeavours to be considered. After all, that is why they are signed in the first place.

Of the fifteen strikers brought in permanently, only Gary Hooper (82 goals in 138 appearances), Anthony Stokes (76 goals in 192 appearances) and Leigh Griffiths (54 goals in 88 appearances) can be said to have been significant successes, racking up a total of 212 goals in 418 outings between them thus far. Having paid £4,600,000 for the trio, we can calculate that their goals have come at a cost of £21,698 each (in terms of transfer fees alone, ignoring wages etc for this simple analysis).

 

 

However, of the other twelve striking purchases, they each represented examples of relative mediocrity, a lack of opportunities or complete failure. Only one of Morten Rasmussen, Marc-Antoine Fortune, Tony Watt, Mohamed Bangura, Daryl Murphy, Lassad Nouioui, Holmbert Fridjonsson, Teemu Pukki, Amido Balde, Stefan Scepovic, Carlton Cole and Nadir Ciftci have scored ten goals or more for the Football Club, and that was Marc-Antoine Fortune with 12 goals in 43 appearances. In total, these men (who cost £16,300,000 in all) bagged just 52 goals between them in 263 appearances. To be fair to Holmbert Fridjonsson however, he was never given the opportunity to display his talents in a senior match, so he can be discounted, bringing the total cost of this list to £16,200,000, leaving us with an average price of £311,538 per goal.

Considering the four loan strikers momentarily, it can be said that both Robbie Keane (16 goals in 19 appearances) and John Guidetti (15 goals in 35 appearances) were relatively successful stop-gaps, whilst Pawel Brozek (0 goals in 3 appearances) and Miku (2 goals in 14 appearances) did not particularly impress.

Therefore, it can be said that one in every four or five strikers brought to the Football Club in recent years turn out to be a success, whilst half of the loan signings do enough to be worthy of some admiration. The big question, particularly with regards those forwards brought in on a permanent basis, should be “Is this good enough?”

Of course, it can never be expected that every acquisition will be a successful one. Signing good strikers – and holding on to them for any significant length of time – is not an easy task in the modern game, particularly with exorbitant transfer fees and wages being paid south of the border for average players on a regular basis. However, that being said, it must be clear to the hierarchy at Celtic Park that the current strategy is not working and something needs to change. In the last few seasons, we have seen an unknown goalkeeper in Fraser Forster developed to the point that he is now well on his way to establishing himself as one of the best stoppers in the English Premier League, whilst both a defender (Virgil van Dijk) and a midfielder (Victor Wanyama) who now play alongside him at Southampton were also sold for large sums. Critically, aside from the relatively minor profit made on Gary Hooper, no Celtic striking prospect has managed to break through and be sold for big money. Indeed, many have failed to enjoy much success at Celtic Park at all, let alone to attract interest from clubs with access to larger financial resources.

Will Colin Kazim-Richards be the answer to a problem which has plagued us since the days of Keane-Rasmussen? Personally I doubt it, with Feyenoord actively happy to see the back of him following the latest in a long line of disciplinary issues, but he should be given the benefit of the doubt and judged on his successes or failures in the green and white of Celtic. At 29 years of age, this is not a move with any great future resell potential. Clearly though, and more importantly, there are bigger issues than any individual player regarding the transfer policy at Celtic Park. Something must change, but it is up to each supporter to draw their own conclusions about what it should be.

 

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