History of Celtic FC
Celtic Football Club (pronounced /ˈsɛltɪk/) (LSE: CCP) is a Scottish football club based in Glasgow, which plays in the Scottish Premier League. The club was established in 1887, and played its first game in 1888. Celtic have won the Scottish League Championship on 43 occasions, most recently in the 2011–12 season, the Scottish Cup 35 times and the Scottish League Cup 14 times. Celtic's home stadium is Celtic Park, in the Parkhead area of the city; it is the biggest football stadium in Scotland, with a capacity of 60,832.
In 1967 Celtic won the European Cup, becoming the first British team, and only Scottish team, to do so: the players subsequently became known as the Lisbon Lions. Celtic won every competition they entered that season: the Scottish League Championship, the Scottish Cup, the Scottish League Cup, the European Cup and the Glasgow Cup. Celtic also reached the 1970 European Cup Final, but were beaten by Feyenoord. In 2003, Celtic reached the UEFA Cup Final, where they lost 3–2 to Porto.
In 2003 Celtic were estimated to have a fan base of nine million people, including one million in the USA and Canada. More recently (in 2009) it was estimated that there are over 300 Celtic Supporters Clubs in over 30 countries around the world. In 2009 marketing agency, Sports Revolution estimated that there were 7 million Celtic fans in Japan alone, mainly due to the influence of Shunsuke Nakamura. In 2003, an estimated 80,000 Celtic supporters, many without match tickets, travelled to Seville in Spain for the UEFA Cup Final, The club's fans subsequently received awards from UEFA and FIFA for their behaviour at the match. In the 2010–11 season, Celtic had the highest average home attendance of any Scottish club. They also had the 12th highest average attendance out of all the football clubs in Europe. Celtic have a fierce rivalry with Rangers FC (In Administration); the two Glasgow clubs have sometimes been collectively called "the Old Firm". Celtic fans dislike this label. Hunter Valley CSC, in particular, has a slogan: We are not Old Firm, We Are Celtic!
Early Years (1888-1897)
Celtic Football Club was formally constituted at a meeting in St. Mary's church hall in East Rose Street (now Forbes Street), Calton, Glasgow, by Irish Marist Brother Walfrid on 6 November 1887, with the purpose of alleviating poverty in the East End of Glasgow by raising money for the charity Walfrid had instituted, the Poor Children's Dinner Table. Walfrid's move to establish the club as a means of fund-raising was largely inspired by the example of Hibernian who were formed out of the immigrant Irish population a few years earlier in Edinburgh. Walfrid's own suggestion of the name 'Celtic' (pronounced Seltik), was intended to reflect the club's Irish and Scottish roots, and was adopted at the same meeting.
The club has the official nickname, "The Bhoys". However, according to the Celtic press office, the newly established club was known to many as "the bold boys". A postcard from the early 20th century that pictured the team, and read "The Bould Bhoys", is the first known example of the unique spelling. The extra 'h' imitates the spelling system of Gaelic, where the letter B is often accompanied by the letter H.
On 28 May 1888, Celtic played their first official match - against Rangers - and won 5–2 in what was described as a "friendly encounter". Neil McCallum scored Celtic's first ever goal. The squad that played that day was largely composed of players signed from Hibernian. In later times, The two rival teams became linked with the nickname "The Old Firm" - sometimes taken to refer to the reference "old firm friends".
An Early (Pre 1903) Celtic Team
William Angus VC (Centre)
Former Celtic Player
Jock Stein CBE
For Celtic's first ever season, they wore a white top with black shorts and black and green hooped socks. This kit featured a green Celtic cross inside a red circle. Next season they changed to a green and white vertically striped top and for the next fourteen years this remained unchanged. In 1903 Celtic adopted their famous green and white hooped tops
While Brother Walfrid had only charitable motives for the club, others saw huge financial potential. John Glass, a Scottish builder with Donegal family connections and Pat Welsh, a tailor who had left Ireland 20 years previously, observed the coming of professionalism in England in 1885 and correctly assumed that Scotland would follow.
In August 1888, without the knowledge of Brother Walfrid or the club committee, Glass signed eight of Hibs' best players, having offered them cash inducements. The consequences for Hibernian were almost catastrophic.
In 1889 Celtic reached the final of the Scottish Cup, this was their first season in the competition, but lost 2-1 in the final. They also reached the final of the local, North-Eastern Cup and beat Cowlairs 2-1 in the final. Celtic again reached the final of the Scottish Cup in 1892, but this time were victorious after defeating Queen's Park 5-2 in the final which was held at Rangers' stadium, Ibrox Park.
Several months later the club moved to its new ground, Celtic Park, and in the following season won the Scottish Football League for the first ever time. On 26 October 1895, Celtic set the League record for the highest home score when they beat Dundee 11-0.
Willie Maley years (1897-1940)
In 1897 the club became a Private limited company and Willie Maley was appointed as the first 'secretary-manager'. Between 1905 and 1910, Celtic won the Scottish League Championship six times in a row. In both 1907 and 1908 Celtic also won the Scottish Cup, this was the first time a Scottish club had ever won the Double.
During World War I, Celtic won the league four times in a row. However, Celtic's time during World War I was mixed, although they enjoyed great success on the pitch. Football was not as important; attendances fell, player's salaries were reduced and there was increased pressure to complete the fixture list. On one occasion in 1916, Celtic had to play two matches on the same day against Raith Rovers and Motherwell. Recruitment drives were also held at football matches and on one occasion an exhibition of trench warfare was held at Celtic Park. Several Celtic player's also fought during the war, reserve player William Angus won the Victoria Cross for his bravery in the field and fan-favourite Peter Johnstone, who had made over 200 appearances for Celtic, died at the Battle of Arras in 1917.
In January 1928, Jimmy McGrory set the League record for most league goals in a match, when he scored eight of Celtic's goals in a 9-0 win over Dunfermline.
Celtic played Aberdeen in the 1937 Scottish Cup Final, which was watched by a crowd of 146,433 at Hampden Park. Celtic won 2-1 and the attendance remains a record for a club match in Europe.
In 1939, Celtic defeated Everton of England 1–0 at Ibrox Park to claim the Empire Exhibition Trophy, which, along with the Coronation Cup (won in 1953), is amongst the most highly-regarded by the club's supporters, due to its unique status as a one-off competition.
The Ferencváros Vase (also known as The Budapest Cup) was won by Celtic on a European tour in 1914. Celtic played Burnley in Budapest; Ferencváros had agreed to award a trophy to the winner but the match ended in a draw and both teams refused to play extra time. A replay couldn't be organised in Budapest as Celtic were travelling back to Glasgow. After winning the coin toss to play the game at home, Burnley played host to Celtic. The visitors won 2–0 and part of the gate money was sent to the Hungarian Charity Fund, however Celtic were not presented with the trophy, which had been sold to raise funds for the war effort. Seventy four years later, in 1988, Celtic were celebrating their centenary and Ferencváros remembered they owed the club a trophy. In the absence of the original trophy they brought a decorative white porcelain vase, fashioned in the traditional shape of a football cup, to Glasgow. It was presented at Celtic's centenary championship winning match against Dundee in April 1988.
Maley's tenure was also marked by tragedy, as Brother Walfrid died in 1927, a victim of prostate cancer and goalkeeper John Thomson was accidentally killed during an Old Firm encounter in September 1931. Thomson dived in bravely at the feet of Rangers player Sam English, suffering a skull fracture and died in hospital that evening. Maley's era also saw the arrival of the first player from the Indian sub-continent player at a major European club when he signed Mohammed Abdul Salim.
World War II (1939-1945)
Former player Jimmy McStay became manager of the club between 1940 and 1945. However, no official competitive league football took place during this time. The Victory in Europe Cup was a one-off football tournament won by Celtic on 9 May 1945. To celebrate Victory in Europe Day in 1945, the Glasgow Charity Cup committee presented the Victory in Europe Cup to be awarded to the winners of a charity cup final. Rangers were invited to participate but declined as they had a forthcoming cup tie against Motherwell. This allowed Queen's Park to step in and play Celtic. The game finished 0-0 and Celtic won only by the margin of a corner kick.
Jimmy McGrory years (1945-1965)
Ex-player and captain Jimmy McGrory took over in 1945. Under McGrory, Celtic defeated Arsenal, Manchester United and Hibernian to win the Coronation Cup, a one-off tournament held in May 1953 to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
On 19 October 1957, Celtic trounced Rangers by a record score of 7–1 in the final of the Scottish League Cup at Hampden Park in Glasgow, retaining the trophy they had won for only the first time the previous year. The scoreline remains a record win in a British domestic cup final. The victory is still sung of by fans - "Hampden in the sun" - to the tune of the Harry Belafonte song "Island in the Sun". Billy McPhail grabbed a hat-trick after Sammy Wilson and Neilly Mochan had the Celts 2–0 up at the break. Mochan then added to his tally in the second period before Willie Fernie slotted away a penalty right at the end.
Jock Stein and Billy McNeill (1965-1983)
Jock Stein succeeded McGrory in 1965. A former player and team captain, Stein gained most of his fame as Celtic's manager, and is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest football managers in the history of the game. Stein is also famous for guiding Celtic to nine straight Scottish League wins from 1966 to 1974, establishing a world record which was not equalled until 1997.
1967 was Celtic's annus mirabilis. The club won every competition they entered: the Scottish League, the Scottish Cup, the Scottish League Cup, the Glasgow Cup, and the European Cup (now called the European Champions League). Under the leadership of Stein, and captained by Billy McNeill, the club defeated Inter Milan 2–1 at the Estádio Nacional in Lisbon, Portugal on 25 May 1967. Celtic thus became the first British team, and the first from outside Spain, Portugal and Italy to win the competition. They remain the only Scottish team to have reached the final. The players that day subsequently became known as the 'Lisbon Lions'. Jimmy 'Jinky' Johnstone, Bobby Lennox and Bobby Murdoch formed part of that famous team, and now rank among the greatest ever Celtic players. The entire east stand at Celtic Park is dedicated to The Lisbon Lions, and the west stand to Jock Stein. The following year Celtic lost to Racing Club of Argentina in the Intercontinental Cup.
Billy McNeil, Captain
With The European Champions Cup
The Lisbon Lions 1967
Jimmy 'Jinky' Johnstone
Voted Celtic's greatest ever player by the fans
Celtic reached the European Cup Final again in 1970, but were beaten 2–1 by Feyenoord at the San Siro in Milan.
Billy McNeill (nicknamed "Cesar") the former player and captain of The Lisbon Lions, took over as manager in August 1978 and snatched the league title from Rangers in the final game of the season, with a 4–2 win. McNeill led Celtic to another two league titles in 1981 and 1982, along with the League Cup (also in 1982) and the Scottish Cup in 1980. However, an inability to gel with the then Chairman, and dispute over the transfer funds from the sale of Charlie Nicholas to Arsenal meant that the former hero's first stay as manager was short-lived, and he departed the club in 1983.
Davie Hay and the return of Billy McNeill (1983-1991)
Another former player, David Hay, took over from McNeill in July 1983, but it was two years before Celtic saw more success. In 1985 Celtic overturned a 1–0 deficit at half-time in the centenary final of the Scottish Cup to defeat Dundee United 2–1, thanks to a virtuoso free-kick from Davie Provan and a diving header from Frank McGarvey. The following year, Celtic clinched the league title on the last day of the season under the most improbable of circumstances. In order to win the title, Celtic were required to win their final game by a margin of three goals or more against St. Mirren, and hope Hearts would lose to Dundee. Hearts lost their match 2–0, while Celtic won 5–0 and sealed the league championship title at St. Mirren Park on Love Street in Paisley.
Hay left the club the following season, and was replaced by Billy McNeill, at the board's behest.
When Billy McNeill returned to manage the club in 1987, Celtic embarked on a 31-game unbeaten run, culminating in a historic League Championship and Scottish Cup double win in the club's centenary season. However, the success generated by McNeill's return was followed by a dismal performance in the league the following season, along with a 5–1 defeat by Rangers at Ibrox in the opening Old Firm clash. They did retain the Scottish Cup in 1989 though, beating Rangers 1–0 through a Joe Miller strike. The 1989–90 season was a very disappointing one. Celtic's new Polish striker Dariusz Dziekanowski scored four goals in a first round UEFA Cup encounter with Partizan Belgrade but the team still went out of the competition under the away goals rule.
The team's league campaign was poor and despite reaching the Scottish Cup Final in 1990, Aberdeen beat them on penalties. The following season saw their league fortunes fall away fairly quickly, despite their centre-back Paul Elliott being voted Players' Player of the Year.
They reached the Skol Cup Final only to be beaten in extra time by Rangers. However, they would finally get their revenge in a 1991 Scottish Cup quarter-final tie with their rivals, beating them 2–0 through Gerry Creaney and Dariusz Wdowczyk goals. It was a wild St. Patrick's Day encounter which saw three Rangers players (Terry Hurlock, Mark Walters and Mark Hateley) and one Celtic player (Peter Grant) get the red card. However, the joy was short-lived as Motherwell knocked them out of the semi-final 4–2 and the beleaguered McNeill left the club for the last time at the end of the 1990–91 season.
Liam Brady and Lou Macari (1991-1994)
Liam Brady took charge of Celtic shortly after McNeill departed and became only the eighth manager in over 100 years, but the first to have not previously been a player at the club. Despite his credentials as a player with Arsenal, Juventus and the Republic of Ireland, he failed to bring any measure of success to the club, and on 22 October 1991, in the first leg of an away UEFA Cup encounter against Swiss minnows Neuchâtel Xamax, Celtic lost 5–1, one of the worst European defeats in the club's history. In the return leg at Celtic Park, they could only manage a 1–0 victory and crashed out of the tournament 5–2 on aggregate.
Celtic's domestic form proved to be no better over the next two seasons. Brady departed in late 1993, and the so-called "barren years" at the club continued under the new manager, another former player, Lou Macari.
The Fergus McCann era (1994-1999)
The Bank of Scotland informed Celtic that it was calling in the receivers on Thursday 3 March 1994 as a result of exceeding a £5 million overdraft. However, expatriate businessman Fergus McCann wrested control of the club from, and ousted, the family dynasties which had controlled Celtic since its foundation. According to media reports, McCann took over the club minutes before it was to be declared bankrupt.
In order to alleviate the club's considerable financial debt, McCann reconstituted the then privately owned Celtic Football & Athletic Company Limited as a public limited company - Celtic PLC - under the original company registration, resulting in one of the most successful stock market flotations in British financial history. The share issue generated £14 million and saw the redevelopment of Celtic Park into a 60,832 all-seater stadium. During this period, Lou Macari was sacked by McCann and replaced by former Celtic player Tommy Burns, who restored a more attacking style of play.
In the early McCann years the club was under pressure to invest heavily in playing talent to thwart Rangers' attempts to equal and surpass the 9-in-a-row record Celtic held. Fans at times became frustrated by a perceived frugality from McCann, who refused to cave in to what he saw as excessive demands by foreign, mercurial talents. Under Burns' leadership, the side won the Scottish Cup in 1995, but failed to end Rangers' dominance in the Scottish Premier Division. After the near-miss of 1995–96 when Celtic were defeated only once, and with just three weeks left of the 1996–97 season, Burns was sacked, along with the club's entire coaching staff.
Also during this period was an incident in which Jim Farry, the Chief Executive of the SFA, deliberately delayed Celtic's registration of Portuguese player Jorge Cadete, leaving Celtic without the services of this player for a series of vital matches. Fergus McCann complained to the SFA, who subsequently found Farry guilty of gross misconduct and he was sacked.
After Burns' dismissal, Aberdeen manager and former Celtic defender Roy Aitken was widely tipped to take over as manager. However, the club's directors made a surprising choice in Dutch coach Wim Jansen. Furthermore, it was announced that the traditional manager's position at Celtic Park had been abolished, with the responsibilities to be split between the new roles of head coach (Jansen) and general manager. The office of general manager was somewhat controversially taken up by solicitor and former TV football commentator Jock Brown.
Jansen was joined by former Celtic player Murdo MacLeod as assistant head coach. With a number of new signings (including club legend Henrik Larsson for a fee of £650,000 from Dutch team Feyenoord Rotterdam), Celtic won the Scottish League Cup, before overcoming Rangers to win the Scottish Premier Division title for the first time in almost 10 years (although a slump late in the season required a final day victory against St. Johnstone at Celtic Park).
Despite the triumph, the title-winning celebrations soon turned sour when Jansen made good his long held threat to resign, after difficulties working with Brown and McCann. Jansen resigned just two days after the club sealed the title, with Brown, widely portrayed as the villain of the piece, leaving shortly afterwards.
A number of high-profile names were proferred as the replacement for Jansen, but the man eventually appointed by the Celtic board was Slovakian Jozef Vengloš. Many fans, swayed doubtless by the local media, were disappointed and angry at the decision, citing Vengloš' poor record in charge of English club Aston Villa. Following early exits in the European Cup, UEFA Cup and League Cup, Celtic recovered and challenged for the title until the penultimate game of the season - including a famous 5–1 victory over Rangers early in the season. However, the side was unable to prevent Rangers winning the championship, and a defeat in the Scottish Cup Final only confirmed the team's lack of progress. Shortly after the end of the season, Vengloš resigned on health grounds, but he remained as a European scout for the club. His lasting legacy to the club was the signing of Lubo Moravcik.
The Dream Team and Martin O'Neill (1999-2005)
The 1999–2000 season is widely considered one of the biggest disasters in the club's history. Kenny Dalglish returned to the club to fill the general manager's post (which had been vacant all throughout Vengloš' tenure), while the head coach position was filled by former England and Liverpool player John Barnes.
Barnes had never managed a professional club, and the fans' worst fears were realised when Celtic's title challenge drastically faltered shortly after the winter break. Following a series of poor results - including elimination from the UEFA Cup and a broken leg in Lyon for Henrik Larsson - Rangers dramatically increased their lead at the top of the SPL table and demands for Barnes to be sacked began.
On 8 February 2000, Celtic hosted a rearranged Scottish Cup tie at home to Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Caley Thistle were an in-form side, fourth-placed in Division 1, although only in the Scottish Football League since 1994, and the match was widely expected to be an easy victory for Celtic. However, Caley Thistle won the match 3–1 in one of the biggest Scottish Cup upsets ever, which sparked a protest involving over a hundred Celtic fans outside the stadium. The memorable headline in The Sun newspaper the following day read: "Super Caley Go Ballistic, Celtic Are Atrocious". Having refused to speak to the press after the match, Barnes held a press conference the next day, and implied that a dispute between him and Mark Viduka at half time had badly unsettled the team and been responsible for the defeat. Barnes was sacked the following morning.
Kenny Dalglish took over as head coach until the end of the season, and brought Tommy Burns back to assist him. While Dalglish generally retained the respect of the supporters, Celtic's league form deteriorated further and the club finished 21 points behind Rangers at the end of the season. A League Cup victory over Aberdeen was the only consolation in one of the most embarrassing periods of the club's history.
Martin O'Neill, a former European Cup winner with Nottingham Forest, from Kilrea in Northern Ireland arrived at the club in the wake of the Barnes fiasco. Under his leadership, Celtic won three SPL championships out of five and in his first season in charge, the team also won the domestic treble, being only the second Celtic manager to do so after Jock Stein.
The 2000-01 season was additionally memorable largely because of some excellent results against rivals Rangers. A famous 6–2 victory in the opening Old Firm encounter of the season at Celtic Park proved to everyone that the balance of power in Scotland had shifted. Two further league victories against Rangers: 1–0 (at Celtic Park), and 3–0 (at Ibrox) ensured O'Neill's first league title was won by a considerable distance. In the same season, Celtic won their first domestic treble since 1969, winning the CIS League Cup and the Scottish Cup. On three occasions, his Celtic side qualified for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League, and on the only occasion they failed, they went on to reach the final of the UEFA Cup. Under O'Neill's leadership, teams such as Juventus, Porto, Valencia, and Barcelona all visited Glasgow to face Celtic and returned home defeated. Celtic also commenced an unbeaten run of 77 home matches, which spanned from 2001 to 2004 and notched up an SPL record for the most consecutive wins in a single season.
In 2003, around 80,000 Celtic fans travelled to watch the club compete in the UEFA Cup Final in Seville in southern Spain. Celtic lost the match 3–2 to FC Porto after extra time, despite two goals from Henrik Larsson during normal play. Celtic's cause was not helped by the late sending off of defender Bobo Balde. However, the exemplary conduct of the thousands of travelling Celtic supporters received widespread praise from the people of Seville and the fans were awarded prestigious Fair Play Awards from both FIFA and UEFA "for their extraordinarily loyal and sporting behaviour". Sepp Blatter later labelled Celtic supporters as "The Greatest Fans In The World".
In 2004 Celtic won the SPL and Scottish Cup double and also reached the UEFA Cup quarter-finals but lost to the Spanish side Villarreal (3–1 on aggregate). The Scottish Cup final was the last match Henrik Larsson played for the club, and he scored two goals in a 3–1 defeat of Dunfermline.
In that 2003-04 season Celtic set a new British record of 25 league victories in a row. O'Neill also saw Celtic win 7 consecutive Old Firm games.
The 2004-05 season saw Celtic retain the Scottish Cup but lose out on the SPL title which they looked set to win, only losing out after being beaten 2-1 by Motherwell in a match they were winning with 2 minutes of normal time remaining. At the end of the season Martin O'Neill parted ways with the club, to care for his sick wife.
Gordon Strachan and Tony Mowbray (2005-2010)
Gordon Strachan was announced in June 2005 as Martin O'Neill's replacement, after apparently being recommended by O'Neill himself. Strachan faced a number of challenges, not least in inheriting an aged squad who were highly expensive and one that had still failed to replace the talismanic Henrik Larsson.
Despite an unpromising start, Celtic went on to become the fastest team to win the SPL championship ever, along with the Scottish League Cup in the 2005–06 season. The title was clinched before the league was split (for the first time ever) with a 1–0 home victory over second-placed Heart of Midlothian.
During the 2006–07 season Celtic continued their domination of the Scottish Premier League, despite a huge effort by Strachan and the club to reduce the wage bill. Expensive mainstays of the O'Neill years such as Hartson and Sutton, who on average delivered 40 goals per season between them, were moved on and replaced by far younger, and less expensive, players. The team proved unerringly consistent, as had O'Neill's, despite their youth and comparative lack of experience. By the close of the January transfer window Celtic were 19 points ahead of second-placed Rangers, something which may have been a large contribution to a complete loss of form and partial loss of points in the second half of the season. They completed their quest for back to back titles on 22 April 2007 with a 2–1 win against Kilmarnock. Shunsuke Nakamura ensured the victory with a goal from a free kick from 25 yards in the final minute, leaving Celtic 13 points clear of Rangers with four matches remaining. That season also saw Strachan guide Celtic into last 16 of the UEFA Champions League for the first time. They lost 0–1 to the eventual winners of the cup AC Milan after a goal from Kaká in extra time. On 26 May 2007, Celtic again won the Scottish Cup, for a 34th time, beating Dunfermline 1–0.
On 28 September 2007 it was announced John Reid would become Chairman of Celtic and he took over from Brian Quinn on 7 November. Reid is a lifelong supporter of the club and described the appointment as "the greatest honour of my life". His appointment was approved by a large majority of shareholders, though a small group opposed the motion at Celtic's annual general meeting over Reid's role in the British Government during the Iraq war.
On 22 May 2008 Celtic won the SPL for the third year in a row under the leadership of Gordon Strachan with a victory over Dundee United at Tannadice. This ensured Strachan's place in the history books of Celtic, becoming only the third manager to achieve such a feat, behind Maley and Stein. In March 2009 Celtic won the League Cup beating Rangers 2-0 in the final. Celtic failed to win the SPL title, finishing second to Rangers and Strachan resigned from the manager's position at the end of the season.
Tony Mowbray was announced as the replacement for Gordon Strachan on 16 June 2009. He moved from his managerial post at West Bromwich Albion. It was a return to Celtic for the Englishman after playing there for 4 years between 1991 and 1995 and is considered to be the player who started the famous Celtic prematch "Huddle". He promised a "barcelona-esque" style of football, and more attacking play, never afraid to hide his admiration for the likes of Arsène Wenger. Things started well, he won his first trophy shortly after signing for Celtic, with victory in the Wembley Cup. He brought Marc-Antoine Fortuné, Landry N'Guémo and Danny Fox to the club. Things looked very promising when Celtic comprehensively beat Aberdeen in the opening SPL game.
Because of the previous season league position and the European co-efficient ranking, two qualifying rounds were required to enter the Champions league group stages. After a 1-0 loss to Dynamo Moscow at home, Mowbray lead Celtic to a 2-1 win in Moscow, ending a long run of not winning any away games in the Champions league. Celtic were drawn with English side Arsenal. Celtic lost the home leg 2-0. In the return leg in the Emirates Stadium, Celtic were holding Arsenal 0-0 until a dive by Arsenal striker Eduardo Da Silva won them a penalty, which Eduardo stepped up to put the ball past Artur Boruc from the spot, sending Arsenal on their way to a 3-1 win, a rejuvenated Massimo Donati scoring Celtic's only goal.
Things began to slide after that though, Celtic began hemorrhaging points to the so called "smaller teams" in the league. Celtic then exited the Europa League before Christmas despite a promising draw of group opponents. Despite a big squad shake-up in the January transfer window, including the departure of club captain Stephen McManus, leading goalscorer Scott McDonald, Barry Robson, the newly acquired Danny Fox and a number of other fringe players; and the bringing in of Republic of Ireland striker Robbie Keane, Diomansy Kamara and others, Tony Mowbray was sacked by the club the day after their 4-0 defeat by St Mirren on 24 March 2010 and Neil Lennon took charge for the remainder of the 2009-10 season. Mowbray is statistically the worst manager in Celtic's history, with a poorer win/loss ratio than previous record holder John Barnes.
Neil Lennon (2010-present)
Former Celtic captain, Neil Lennon, became the caretaker manager after Tony Mowbray was fired bringing in former teammate Johan Mjällby as his assistant. Celtic were ten points behind Rangers, who had played two less games, when Lennon took over. Despite having no management experience Lennon lead Celtic to eight wins from the eight remaining league matches, finishing six points behind their Old Firm rivals Who they also beat 2-1 in the final Old Firm match of the season. This provided a much needed morale boost to the club. Celtic's one chance for silverware was the Scottish Cup, they faced First Division Ross County in the semi-final but lost 2-0.
In the aftermath of the Ross County match Lennon spoke frankly about his opinion of the players and their performances over the course of the season. He said that the players had lacked "hunger and desire" and that whether he was installed as manager or not, he would be recommending a serious clear-out of players to the board.
On 9 June 2010, despite concern over his lack of experience, Lennon was officially announced as the new Celtic manager. He retained Mjällby as his assistant, as well as former Celtic team-mate Alan Thompson and former Leicester City team mate Garry Parker as first-team coaches. Lennon made considerable changes to the Celtic team for the 2010-11 season. He sold Aiden McGeady for a Scottish record £9.5 million along with captain Stephen McManus and fan favourite Artur Boruc. Thirteen other players also left the club, this gave Lennon enough funds to re-build for the new season. He looked to sign talented, young, cheap, relatively unknown players, from smaller leagues around the world. This paid off with players such as Gary Hooper, Beram Kayal and Emilio Izaguirre all having excellent seasons and earning many plaudits. Lennon also signed several experienced players on free transfers. Charlie Mulgrew, Joe Ledley, and Daniel Majstorović all went into the first team. In addition to these Lennon also signed five other players, including Fraser Forster on loan from Newcastle who became first choice 'keeper and helped set a new SPL record for most clean sheets.
Despite winning their home games Celtic went out of both the Champions League and Europa League at the first hurdle, losing 4-2 against eventual Europa League finalists Braga and FC Utrecht respectively. Celtic and Rangers both won their first eight SPL games, but when the sides first clashed Celtic lost 3-1. Celtic played fairly well up until the next Old Firm match, enjoying large wins over Aberdeen, 9-0 and Inverness, 6-0. However they also drew three home matches in a row towards the end of the year and lost 2-0 at Tynecastle.
On 2 January 2011 Celtic went into the second Old Firm match as underdogs but won 2-0 thanks to a Georgios Samaras brace. Celtic won 15 out of their 19 matches in the second half of the season but draws at Hamilton and Ibrox as well as losses at Inverness and Motherwell saw them lose the league by a single point. However, Celtic did have the best defensive record only conceding 22 goals.
Celtic got to the final of both domestic cups. They lost the League Cup final 2-1 to Rangers but won the Scottish Cup final 3-0 against Motherwell. Celtic played in an unprecedented seven Old Firm matches in 2010-11. This was due to being drawn against Rangers in both cups, and the fact that they required a rCeltic arrived in Sydney eplay to beat them in the Scottish Cup. Celtic won three of these matches, two in the league and the Scottish Cup fifth round replay. There were two draws, one in the final league match and one in the Scottish Cup fifth round. Rangers won twice, both the first league match and the League Cup final. Celtic also enjoyed an incredible run of results against Aberdeen. The two teams played each other five times, due to being drawn in both Cup semi-finals and Celtic scored 21 times against them only conceding one.
Season 2011 - 2012
Celtic's Pre-season tour of Australia began with the confirmation of new signings Adam Matthews, Kelvin Wilson, Dylan McGeough, and Victor Wanyama. They played Central Coast Mariners just 3 days after arriving in Sydney and lost 1 - 0. The next match was a comfortable 2 - 0 victory over Perth Glory in Perth, and the final game against Melbourne Victory, the Celts won 1 - 0.
The last friendly before the start of the SPL season was a 1 - 0 victory over English Championship club Cardiff City.
The first competitive match was a 2- 0 victory over Hibernian in the SPL. A few days later, Celtic played English Premier league club Wolverhampton and lost 2 - 0. This was followed by 3 games in Ireland for the Dublin Super Cup where Celtic finished second to Manchester City following a 2 - 0 defeat by Inter Milan and a 5 - 0 victory over the League of ireland XI.
Celtic then lost 2 - 0 against English Premier Club Swansea City before resuming their challenge for the SPL with a 1 - 0 victory over Aberdeen.
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