Film critic, Robert Ebert, described the Human Centipede II as: “reprehensible, dismaying, ugly, artless, and an affront to any notion, however remote, of human decency.” These words could also be used to describe Celtic in that ill-fated 2020-21 as the club fell apart in their bid to win the coveted ’10’.
It is important to remember and appreciate exactly where Celtic were and what Ange Postecoglou was walking into in summer 2021 as we approach a year into his reign.
With two trophies in the cabinet, including the main prize of the league title (despite what others decide is the most important trophy this week) it can be easy to forget what state the club was in. No manager, a new chief executive with no footballing experience, Dom we hardly knew ye, and a ragtag collection of misfits and youth players for a squad about to embark on a doomed Champions League Qualification campaign.
What this situation obviously needed was a largely unheard of coach plying his trade in Japan whose only experience of managing in Europe was a brief stint at Greek third division side Panachaiki (me neither). What could possibly go wrong.
It turns out this was an inspired decision and was exactly what Celtic needed with Ange giving the fans one of the most enjoyable and memorable seasons in the clubs modern history.
Here at The Celtic Exchange we have decided to recognise some those that made this possible and so begins the inaugural and prestigious ‘TCE End of Season Awards’.
Player of the Year
Arguments can be made for a number of players to win this award. Had Kyogo Furuhashi not missed half a season it was surely his, Cameron Carter-Vickers strolled into Parkers and could’ve sparked up a cigar in most games he made it look that easy at the back, Jota lit up games with his skill and contributed goals and assists all season, Giorgos Giakoumakis and the January signings all made massive contributions but there really is only one winner here: Callum McGregor.
Celtic fans aren’t renowned for agreeing en masse with one another but rarely have they been so united in thinking Callum McGregor was the stand out player this season.
With a Scott Brown shaped void to fill not just in the centre of the pitch but also his importance in captaining the side to nine in a row and quadruple trebles some (Paddy) doubted Calum’s leadership credentials, how wrong they were. The captaincy has taken his game to new heights and he has driven the team on all season with his driving run from midfield at Ibrox when a goal behind proving the perfect example of what he brings to this team. The perfect midfielder for an Ange team.
To paraphrase Michael Jordan in The Last Dance Callum took losing the ten personally and nobody was stopping him from lifting the SPFL trophy in his first season as captain.
Moment of the Season
Like the POTY award this could have gone to various moments through ought the season and is a personal choice and is one of those things that will change from day to day so here’s a list of some highlights from The Celtic Exchange in no particular order:
Aberdeen 1-2 Celtic. This is seen by many as the turning point in the season. Celtic had struggled hugely on the road and looked like they were about to fall further behind Rangers until a late Jota winner showed this team was made of something different and they really never looked back in the league.
If there’s one thing we quickly learned about Ange is that he has no time for stupid questions. Not one moment in particular but listening to the disdain in the mans voice as he dealt with and dismissed the press was a thing of beauty, mate.
Abada’s last minute winner at home to Dundee United and that video of Jota half way up the Jock Stein stand will live long in the memory. With Rangers dropping points earlier in the day it gave Celtic the chance to go to within two points of the leaders with the next game being against them. Down to 10 men it looked like we had blown the chance only for Abada to pop up with a 90th minute winner. Bedlam.
Celtic 3-0 Rangers. Disco lights. The fenian of the opera. Hatate. Shitebag. Top of the league. Roll with it.
As mentioned earlier, Callum McGregor has relished being Celtic captain and to see what it meant to him at Tannadice when the league was officially secured and then the joy on his face as he lifted the league trophy was emotional.
Funniest moment of the season
Football is all about enjoying yourself and there is nothing funnier than a group of supporters freely admitting to making themselves sick by drinking toilet water. A bizarre and hilariously unexpected end to the season.
Goal of the season
The impact Kyogo Furuhashi made has in this fans opinion been somewhat under appreciated and his goal against Ferencvaros in that weird 3pm midweek game showcased all his talents in one move and proved beyond all doubt we had a superstar on our hands.
Personally I’d have gone for McGregor in Midtjylland or Kyogo’s lob in the League Cup Final but what do I know.
Ange has a way with words and he summed up what this club means to a lot of people after the 3-0 derby win in February: “We had 60,000 in here. I'm sure a lot walked in with some problems in their lives and for 95 minutes we made them forget that and feel good - and that's something special."
Honourable mention to the jumper gag and mic drop in his trophy day speech.
"We never stop."
Biggest disappointment of the season
Europe didn’t go to plan. The games against Bod/Glimt was a painful experience for all at the club and should be a reminder to the decision makers there is still a lot to improve on.
Eddie Howe. Messed the club about for months before deciding the job was too big for him. Listening to him tying himself in knots proclaiming he’s just a football manager while taking the Saudi’s blood money shows the mark of the man and it’s probably best for all concerned he’s nowhere near Celtic Park.