In this Cynic classic, we give a talented panel a list of 4 statements and ask their expert (or not) opinions to determine whether the statement is, in fact, true or false. I’m Stephen Russell (@SJRussell23) and debating this week we have Eoin Coyne (@toomanybigwords), Matt Evans (@SkylandsCSC), Andy Gorman (@andygorman94), Ronan Kearney (@Kearney1085)!
Fraser Forster is the best goalkeeper in Scotland
COYNE: True. In theory anyway, he’s younger than kung fu experts Gordon and McGregor and is probably also better than Bain though it will be interesting to see what happens when he’s fit again. Forster of course will need game time but he’s already saved a penalty so he’s well up on the last two in that regard. At 31 he should have plenty left to offer it just remains to be seen how much the accumulative effect of injury and total loss of form in his last year or so at Southampton have affected his game. If he gets back to anything close to his best personal form then he’s the best keeper in Scotland by a mile.
EVANS: False. At this juncture, it’s way too early to say he’s the best goalkeeper at his club, let alone the entire league. He probably has the best pedigree and arguably the best resume, but given that he had no match time last season and is a bit of a cipher from a fitness perspective, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. At this point, I would prefer Gordon, Bain, Joe Lewis, or that dirty-looking guy who plays in goal for the club on the other side of town.
GORMAN: True. Forster’s CV speaks for itself. Top performances domestically and a goalkeeping masterclass against arguably the greatest team football has witnessed, propelled him into the limelight and made him an extremely valuable asset. These terrific displays for Celtic even earned him a call up for his national side, an achievement many of our past English heroes never managed. For me, Forster is the best goalkeeper to have played for Celtic in this century and therefore stand’s head and shoulders above any other keeper in the league.
KEARNEY: True. Of course he is. There is no one better than him in the league currently. He left Celtic to chase the Premier League dream and whilst it never worked out for him, he has not become a poor goalie overnight. The big man was a 12million quid keeper a few years ago and travelled to both the World Cup in 2014 and Euro 2016 at a time when England had strength in depth in terms of goalkeepers. The only rivals to Forster are Bain and McGregor. Bain has looked a shadow of the keeper he was when he broke through into the Celtic first team and Allan McGregor is an arsehole.
Verdict: True 3 – 1 False. Our panel happily agree that Forster has the background to be the best GK in Scotland once more, but the question lies in his fitness and whether his abilities have began to wane.
Celtic will take maximum points from Aberdeen this season
COYNE: True. Sometimes you just have a hex over a team and our No-voting pals with the affinity for wool must be sorely sick of the sight of the hoops. We always beat Aberdeen, I see nothing from either of us to suggest this comfortable arrangement will end any time soon. We did allow them close a couple of times and they have that one win at Celtic Park after we had already secured the title but when it matters, you can always count on Aberdeen to defer to McInnes’ defensive nature. They do not truly believe, so they must continue to fail. Pleasing.
EVANS: True. I think this year is the year Aberdeen fall away from the top three and become one of the faces in the crowd with Hibs, Hearts, and the rest. They have never been able to give Celtic all that much competition and certainly not when the chips are down. Celtic also reliably up their game at Pittodrie, a tough place to play (although Kieran Tierney always seemed a big part of that). The Dons would need to sort out their attack (3 goals in 3 so far this season, papped out of Europe) as well as their defense (Shay Logan and Andy Considine are reliably roasted against Celtic time and again) to have a chance, although the dire 0-0 in March of last season is a warning to the Hoops as to what can happen if you don’t bring your A game.
GORMAN: True. It is clear as day that Aberdeen are a team in regression. In recent times, Aberdeen have caused us little trouble, apart from snatching a win on the last day of the 17/18 season, gaining them 2nd spot in the league, I can’t quite remember who trailed behind them? With a poor start to this season and McInnes still at the helm, I can only assume that we will sweep Aberdeen aside again this season.
KEARNEY: True. Aberdeen are a year further down the line in terms of their cycle and on big occasions, look incapable of beating Celtic. The only danger they pose to Celtic under McInnes is when Celtic have nothing to play for. If the league runs the distance and there is something on the line each time we play them this year, then I have no doubt we will beat them. Side point – the greatest moment of the treble treble season is watching them think they are going to beat us on Boxing Day and then French Eddy comes off the bench to break their hearts. A French Eddy filled needle – my veins love it.
Verdict: True 4 – 0 False. A very convincing win for pumping Aberdeen continuously. I’m inclined to agree based on McInnes struggling to adapt his midfield to cope with us previously and the side are now in decline.
Celtic Park is the toughest away day facing clubs in Scotland this season
COYNE: True. Although the old place has sadly lost but all of its European aura we can still expect to overwhelm any and all domestic opposition. Our home record has been excellent and again, you would hope to see this continue. If we begin coughing up goals as easily as we did to Cluj on a regular basis though you can expect the odd maverick to come out and have a go.
EVANS: True. Celtic Park gets the edge over Ibrox simply because a better team plays inside Celtic Park. The stats don’t lie, just look at last season – Celtic only dropped four points at home all season (two draws), while Rangers drew four times and lost once. Celtic Park is certainly not the fortress it used to be, but that effect is far more pronounced in Europe than in the league.
GORMAN: True. As champions for the 8th time running, Celtic are by far the biggest and most feared team in Scotland. With 12 goals already from home games in this domestic campaign, Parkhead remains the hardest place to go for any team unlucky enough to be travelling there.
KEARNEY: False. Ibrox will be the toughest away day facing clubs this season. It is home to some questionable sorts who spend 90 minutes spewing bile and vitriol. The home team are poison, the dugout thinks the world has it in for them, the kitman is if Brexit manifested itself into a person. The ground is crumbling. Even Broxi Bear is a prick. Spending 90 minutes surrounded by this is one of the toughest experiences in your life – and having to put yourself through it twice in a season…christ.
Verdict: True 3 – 1 False. While it’s no question that Celtic Park is a nightmare away day for anyone in Scotland, Ronan raises a good point about the sheer hostility at Ibrox. Similarly to Tynecastle, it’s not the easiest set of fans to enjoy a game with.
There will be less than 6 points between Celtic and Rangers this season
COYNE: False. Although rangers do appear to be a little better again this year it has to be remembered that Celtic were pretty poor for large patches last season. If we can improve on our overall domestic record (and we really should) then we should be comfortably keeping at least 8-10 points betwee us and the rest. Our scope to improve on last season’s points total is a lot bigger than theirs.
EVANS: True. The nine is going to be a massive fuckin’ mountain to climb, as I would say Rangers have done better business in yet another summer window and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say they’ve improved incrementally over last season. You watch their matches and you say “aye, they’re shite” and that’s true – their 1-0 to squeak past Legia was dross from the opening whistle – but Celtic aren’t such hot stuff ourselves. Until Celtic return to the times where they slapped Rangers around 4-0 and 5-1 no matter what stadium they were playing in, you have to consider the effective gap between the two sides to be very, very small.
GORMAN: False. I was definitely one of the Celtic fans who was caught up in the media hype surrounding Rangers before the first Glasgow derby of the season. Especially after the Cluj game, I felt that our makeshift defence would be exposed, and we would be lucky to escape with a draw. Boy was I wrong. An inspirational performance from Celtic absolutely nullified any effort of attack made by Rangers and renewed my faith in Lennon’s tactical nous. With two derbies still to play at Parkhead and with Rangers’ lack of quality exposed, I predict Celtic to win the league by a 9-point gap or more.
KEARNEY: True. I do think the gap is closing but that we will still have enough for them. There are two key factors to this statement. Number one is Europa League football. If we both get into the Europa League we are more likely to win the league by more than six points. If not, it is a factor. On top of that is what happens post-split – if we are 10/12 points clear then it’s time to have fun. Send the senior players on holiday and give them extra time to prepare for the upcoming qualifiers and send out the kids to finish off the season.
Verdict: True 2 – 2 False. While the most recent derby comes with a huge injection of confidence, it pays to remember that a league campaign is 38 games. The 3 points taken, while a boost to the chances of claiming our 9th consecutive title, could just as easily be dropped away to a plankton side on an off day. That being said, I don’t think Gerrard and his squad have the nerve to keep with Celtic for a full season. Lennon has won titles while Gerrard has not.
If you have any statements that you’d like to put to our future panels, let us know in the comments below, on the Patreon app or alternatively on Twitter @90MinuteCynic or @SJRussell23. Thanks for reading.