Former Celtic striker and Sky Sports Pundit, Charlie Nicholas, has expressed his fears for Neil Lennon’s side over the coming season and pinpointed exactly where they might face difficulties.
Writing in his Daily Express column (via The Daily Record), Nicholas reckons that the lack of fans and leaner squad could see an end to the domestic dominance that they currently enjoy.
So what has Lennon said?
Looking forward to the season ahead, which starts this weekend, Nicholas details exactly what he feels could hamstring his old side:
“I am a Celtic fan. I want another Treble, I am not camouflaging that but I do think Celtic will have a problem with no or limited crowds. I think they will find it the hardest to adjust to that lack of energy they get from 60,000 fans every second week.
“That is a massive thing to lose and I can see it causing Celtic a stumble, especially in one of the cups.
“If Nicola Sturgeon decides to continue to take control then the best we can hope for is very small crowds, but if it is long-term then Celtic would be impacted more than any other team.
“The other major worry I have about the club is that they have lost a few players and don’t have the same numbers in the squad.
“It might be that Celtic need to prioritise and if they were to look at the trophies then the Betfred Cup is probably the least important now.”
So is Nicholas correct?
The only players that have left Celtic so far have been fringe players with Lennon set to replace them with ones of better quality, Fraser Forster’s departure will obviously be a sore point but with the news that Vasilios Barkas is set to sign for around the £4.5million mark there shouldn’t;t be too big a drop in quality, if any.
As for the lack of fans, it is the same for every club and if anything, should benefit Celtic. Going away to grounds like Easter Road, Pittodrie, Rugby Park and the Toni Macaroni Arena – where they particularly struggled last term – will not be anywhere near as beneficial for a home team and in every game until fans return, the difference in quality of player should ultimately shine through.
Celtic haven’t needed to prioritise trophies in the past, nor will they be expected to this season, not only do they have depth, but they have the best squad in the country by some distance, and it will take more than a stadium with no fans in it to stop them on their march to an unprecedented tenth successive Premiership title.