Celtic What If… | UEFA Cup, Lennon and Family Birthdays

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What if…..Celtic had won the UEFA Cup in 2003?

KEARNEY: Not a lot changes for Celtic. O’Neill still goes when he does and Larsson still rides off into the sunset at the same time. Tears are spared, but the big change will come in the life of Mourinho: Porto do not carry the momentum of the UEFA Cup win into the next season meaning they don’t become Champions League winners and Mourinho does not get grass burns on his knees from sliding on the Old Trafford turf.  The Special One is not born, Chelsea become nothing….oh dear lord WHAT IF?! Fucking Bobo Balde, man. That red card changed the future of football forever.

McGOWAN: That Celtic team would be even more revered than it is now, but it’s already seen as a hugely admirable achievement despite the defeat. There’s also no reason that Mourinho wouldn’t have gone on to have the same success he did in 03/04 – he wouldn’t have been sacked for losing the final, anyway.

FRIEL: Inspired by Celtic’s strength of character and set piece execution, Scotland overwhelmingly votes for independence in a snap referendum in 2004. A coalition of Greens and Socialists turn Scotland into a prosperous, vibrant, healthy nation, where everyone have hair and elocution as good as Stuart Armstrong. Jose Mourinho stays in Portugal and doesn’t feature on anyone’s radar again until 2018, when he mysteriously takes over as manager of Wolvehampton Wanderers. He lasts 92 days and resigns following an extra time Caraboa Cup defeat to Chris Sutton’s Coventry City.

What if…Neil Lennon don’t leave Celtic in 2014?

KEARNEY: Lennon and the board mutually part in Jan 2015 with Celtic pipping Real Sociadad to the appointment of David Moyes. Dreams of 8 in a row are shattered as Moyes loses title to Aberdeen within his first five months and he is replaced by Alan Pardew. He lasts a season, winning the title and league cup before falling out with Peter Lawwell and moving back to the Premier League. Fresh from his Euro 2016 heroics with Wales, Chris Coleman is appointed Celtic manager and wins a treble in his first season before inviting Netflix to film a fly on the wall documentary about Celtic’s 2017/18 season.  h

McGOWAN: While Lennon’s Celtic dominated the Premiership in 2013/14, there were evident issues on all other fronts. Kris Commons largely carried a team that was at the end of its cycle, and I think stagnation was always around the corner, potentially coming to bite him in the next season or two. In this case, I could see there being no Deila period with Lennon carrying on until the Rodgers era starts in 2016. However, it is important to remember that Deila built some of Rodgers’ foundations, without which BR might not have been quite as successful.

FRIEL: Neil Lennon lasts one more season, but is increasingly frustrated with what he perceives as a lack of support from the board in successive transfer windows. He resigns the night before a CL qualifier, when the club fails to make a credible bid for Connor Sammon (he subsequently joins Genoa). Celtic appoint Ronny Delia and you know the rest.

What if….you were told you could play one full match for Celtic next season?  Would you do it, and in which position and game?

KEARNEY: Rangers at home. Has to be this, doesn’t it? You hear players talk about the atmosphere but to experience it must be amazing, and then to be a fan and experience it on the pitch…that has to be the greatest feeling in the world. I’d play myself centre-back beside big Ajer. 3-0 up in injury time, I turn to the big man and ask him to cover me. I take off, all the way from my own box, getting faster as I approach the half way line. I get past David and Jack as the Rangers goal beckons. I zip past Goldson, Halliday is out of position and I find myself one on one with McGregor and I jump through the air and karate kid the prick square in the face. Sign me up.

McGOWAN: I wouldn’t play myself, instead I’d be dressed as Hoopy on the side-lines against Aberdeen, largely because I want to run on and kick them around the park. What a sight that would be – a big uncoordinated dug swiping at Lewis Ferguson’s ankles.

FRIEL:  One cross is all it takes; Fallin’ love with me; Possibilities; I look like all you need… Louis McCaffrey, I am your full back, the right footed Tosh McKinlay, the smiling Paul Telfer. I’d teach the squad a thing or two about whipping a ball it into the box. I’d play myself in the opening game of the season as I’d be un-droppable after I light up the right hand side. Although if that’s a early kick-off on a Saturday I might need to postpone until the following week as I take my son to bumblebee sports class at 10am. No matter: brace yourselves as me and Bayo take over in 2020. An aerial assault the likes of which you’ve never seen. We will lead you to 10 in a row, just don’t ask me to defend the back post…

What if….you could invite one current Celtic player to the next big family birthday party at your house – who would it be?

KEARNEY: Lustig. He’s a madman.

McGOWAN: Oliver Burke. To make me seem witty, fashionable, and technically gifted in comparison.

FRIEL: It’s my youngest son’s first birthday later this month. Previous experience suggests allowing infants to do their own face painting will result in a lot of parent complaints. So I need someone with steady hands, patience and who won’t eat the paint. Craig Gordon, please come to my son’s party – we’re only a couple minutes up Woodhall Road and I can personally guarantee that you will get an end piece of the Colin the Catepillar cake. I’ll supply the paints but if you could bring your own brush that would be great, thanks.

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