At the start of this season, Ronan Kearney (@Kearney1085) and Alex Papadopoulos (@AlexPapa67) gave their predictions for the campaign. I’m Stephen Russell (@SJRussell23) and in this review I ask Ronan and Alex to take a look back at their initial predictions and assess how they feel it’s going so far.
KEARNEY: I have 4 out of the top 5 right and 2 out of the bottom 3 right, so that’s a positive. I definitely didn’t see the absolute implosion at Hibs coming however – definitely took me by surprise. I think Kilmarnock will probably finish higher than the 7th I had initially predicted and Hearts may fare worse than I gave them credit for. In my rationale originally I had said that a title decider post-split at Celtic Park could be on the cards and I think the likelihood of this is stronger than ever with only one goal separating the top two at the moment.
PAPADOPOULOS: A few months into the season, and I would say that about 50% of my original league table will still stand up to scrutiny. Of course Celtic and Rangers dominate the top of the table and look like they cannot be caught by anyone. Motherwell still looking tasty under Steven Robinson in 4th place, whilst Kilmarnock are holding on to the top half in 5thplace.
When we look a little further down, it’s a poor show from myself overestimating both Edinburgh based sides. They have both had a very poor start to the season and thus look unlikely to be in the 3rd and 4th that was originally predicted. With Celtic having lost to Livi, I think we can assume now that on 13 points after 13 games, they won’t be finishing in 11th as predicted.
KEARNEY: I tipped Ryan Christie to pick up Player of the Season and said he could potentially contribute 10-15 goals this season and he is currently on 12 so I will double down on Christie picking up the player of the season award. He is one of the first names on the team sheet and right now the only thing stopping him from lifting the award come May is injury or Tom Rogic getting back from the World Cup in Russia in time to get his place back. I fancied Joe Aribo to pick up the Young Player of the Season award and given how the last few weeks have gone for him I am going to change my mind. Left out of games v Porto and Hearts would tell me he doesn’t have the full faith of Gerrard and right now, Kamara is ahead of him in the pecking order. If Frimpong did not have Elhamed to compete with in the right back slot at Celtic he would be a stick on for the award but instead I am going to go with Allan Campbell at Motherwell, especially if they can continue their run of form.
PAPADOPOULOS: I stand by Ryan Christie as POTY. He has been in superb form for Celtic for the entirety of the season to date and was pivotal to a lot of the best results so far. Mr Michael Johnston’s claim to YPOTY has likely now been damaged by a lack of playing time and the excellence of Moi Elyounoussi.
KEARNEY: Champions League Group Stages
PAPADOPOULOS: Champions League Group Stages
KEARNEY: I had predicted group stage of Champions League would be achieved – WRONG. I predicted a miserable group stage and we’d finish fourth with no European football after Christmas – WRONG AGAIN! So now, who knows? Our best group stage performance in either tournament has led to heady heights and we can look forward to a last 32 tie in the Europa League. I am predicting a heart-breaking last 8 exit with the team using their disappointment to fire them to a sensational quadruple treble.
PAPADOPOULOS: Despite the obvious disappointment of not having reached the Champions League Group Stages, Europe this year for Celtic has been excellent. If you’d have offered a double win over subhuman Nazi scum, plus qualification for the Europa 32 after 4 games, I would probably have bitten your hand off. Viva Lennyball.
KEARNEY: This will be Gerrard’s last season at Rangers.
PAPADOPOULOS: The departure of the previous manager was ultimately a good thing in the longer-term future of the club.
KEARNEY: When doing the initial piece, I settled on this being Steven Gerrard’s last season at Ibrox. I firmly stand by that. He is somehow held in very high regard in England despite a poor performance last season. To give him some credit, they have looked good in Europe this season, albeit in an average group. If they do not win the league, he should leave with his reputation somehow intact and pitch up in England. If he does not, and goes into next season in charge of a financial basket case of a club hell-bent on stopping Celtic doing the 10, he would do well to recover.
PAPADOPOULOS: Still convinced of my piping hot take that the Rat leaving was a good thing, although now it’s a bit more tepid than hot. I think that after a strong transfer window, enjoyable football to watch and very positive results on the pitch, things are looking very good for the club at this point in the season.
As expected, the top two in the league choose themselves. Hearts and Hibs seem to be the biggest shocks of the season, both crumbling under their own weight, while Motherwell still look to be thriving. Livingston are performing better than either writer predicted, along with Ross County.
Ryan Christie is still good value for Player of the Year. He is proving himself more game after game and has shown himself to be critical in Celtic moving the ball into the final third. Mikey Johnstone and Joe Aribo do not look likely for Young Player of the Year, though the season is still young. The former due to game time and the latter due to simply not impressing on the expected level.
Neil Lennon’s European campaign stuttered with the home defeat to Cluj but he seems to have learned from his mistakes and has hit every new challenge out of the park since then – including beating Lazio home and away. I think, despite the disappointment of not hearing the Champions League anthem at Parkhead this season, not many of us would trade the successes we’re having for more 7-0 thumpings at the hands of Europe’s elite.
Given that tensions are rising more the closer we get towards the fabled tenth title, it could very well be Gerrard’s last season if he does not manage to stop us – and with French Eddy firing the way he is, it doesn’t seem likely. Celtic are going from strength to strength and playing in an attractive manner that had started to dissipate from Rodgers’ stagnating side. This means Alex is likely right – it was time for a new manager and, however distressing at the time, Rodgers leaving was ultimately good for the club.
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