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), Ronan Kearney (@Kearney1085) and Stephen Wallace (@stephenwallac16)!
Kieran Tierney is Celtic’s most valuable player
COYNE: True. His age, length of contract, all the football manager stuff, aside from how good a footballer he actually is, should price him a bracket above what we got for Moussa. His position is more specialised and left back is a way more important role now than it used to be. Anyone who wants him should be prepared to put down top dollar for him.
EVANS: False. If we’re talking about monetary valuation, perhaps. But right now, when it comes to who is going to make the biggest impact on Celtic through the European qualifiers (arguably the most valuable part of the season) and in the first half of the Scottish Premiership, it’s not Kieran Tierney. KT is still coming back from a very painful and complicated pelvic condition that required surgery, and he’s not been training with the first team. No, Celtic’s most valuable player at this moment in time is either Ryan Christie (my choice) or Callum McGregor.
KEARNEY: False. I don’t think he is. I mean, if you look solely at offers currently on the table then yes, he is. He is more valuable to the club than he is to the team at the moment. I would argue that Eddy (has scored match winning goals in huge games and there would be no treble treble without him) and Callum McGregor (the man piecing it all together just now) are more valuable to the team than KT currently is.
WALLACE: True. Both on and off the field, KT is the most valuable player that we have. His commitment to the cause and passion for the club mixed with his outstanding ability make him one of Celtic’s best players of the 21st century. He should be commanding a higher transfer fee than £25m – I have once sold him for £80m on Football Manager. Wherever he goes he would be a magnificent player but at Celtic, he is adored, and he adores us. He just gets it.
Verdict: True 2-2 False. There’s no doubting KT’s value as an asset but the biggest question arises from on-field contributions when compared to the squad. We all saw what happened when Callum McGregor was moved away from the midfield, to left back, at Ibrox in December. Are we forgetting what a fully fit KT can do or do we have bigger contributions from further up the park?
Celtic will win the Scottish Cup this season
COYNE. True. If we come unstuck in a cup it’ll probably be the league cup. The Scottish Cup does still retain some prestige and is a big day out at the end of the season. We’ll be heavy favourites for all three again and I think two isn’t out of the question. All three again might be asking a bit much.
EVANS: True. Neil Lennon has every claim to be defending the Scottish Cup as a manager, as he took over just when the going got tough in last year’s quarterfinals. 2020 would see him potentially his fourth Scottish Cup as a manager, equalling his haul from his playing days. Proving that he, too, can win a treble from scratch will be powerful motivation for Coach Neil, so I expect him to take both cup competitions seriously.
KEARNEY: True. Some of Lennon’s biggest failures in his first spell as Celtic manager were in the cup games. Whilst he oversaw the treble last season, there are some who still feel that he was overseeing someone else’s work. I am sure he will want to put that straight this coming season. Rangers NEED a cup win this season and a chance to further harm them won’t be lost on Celtic either.
WALLACE: True. We are the best team in the country. Simple. If Celtic weren’t to win any of the two cups this season it would be from their own doing, not because anyone is better. This idea of wanting to challenge more in Europe and the league is ridiculous. Glasgow Celtic should be sweeping the country of trophies for years to come.
Verdict: True 4-0 False. Emphatic and unanimous, the cup is ours. I’m into it.
Games against Rangers should no longer be played at midday on Sundays
COYNE: True. Just stop with all this nannying. If the games kick off at 12 then you just have the whole day afterwards to drink yourself into a stupor. No matter the unreasonable time, people can get drunk before or after a game. Early kick offs kill the atmosphere and are a travel nightmare. Fuck them off.
EVANS: True. My understanding, from t’other side of the Atlantic, is that Glasgow derbies are played at noon on Sundays to keep the pre-match drinking time to a minimum (I was once rudely surprised in Glasgow, when, on the way to catch the supporters’ bus for a Sunday away somewhere – I stopped at a Morrisons and was unable to buy my cargo). This is, frankly, some medieval bullshit. If other derbies around the world can kick off at 3 pm Saturday, AS GOD INTENDED, then Celtic and Rangers can do so as well. If there’s any bother, well, there’s no shortage of polis standing around doing nothing.
KEARNEY: True. I was at the cup replay in 2011 when Mark Wilson killed Sasa Papac and Rangers had 3 players sent off. That game kicked off at 7:45pm if memory serves correctly. The atmosphere that night was electric despite the media leading a witch hunt in the following days against Lennon and McCoist. Big Jan’s last-minute winner to keep Strachan’s Celtic in the title race also came in a midweek evening KO. Moral of the story – midweek evening KOs equals 12 points a season from Rangers.
WALLACE: False. There is no better feeling than going into work or uni on a Monday morning, rough as a badger’s arse, but absolutely buzzing that we have just put them in their place again. There’s also something about a Sunday Old Firm game that just makes the day. Mass for 10:30, seas of green down the aisle. Father makes it a quick one then a race to the door to be the first in the pub. God bless.
Verdict: True 3-1 False. While Stephen makes a good point about rubbing it right into them at work, our panel have ultimately decided that early kick-offs on a Sunday are too much hassle and take something away from the game. Football fans aren’t criminals, give us our kick-off time back!
Celtic could realistically reach the final of a European competition within the next decade.
COYNE: False. Unless there is a drastic restructuring of European competition then just qualifying will continue to be an end in itself. The move to appease the fat cat leagues was always going to come at a cost to ‘the rest of us’. The Europa League latter stages also look a step beyond us at the moment. Even if we bring through an incredible bunch of kids a la Ajax they’ll be spirited away within a window or two, you’ll never be afforded the time to build anything.
EVANS: True. But it won’t be the Champions League, and I’m not sure it ever will be. The big-money teams have simply left the rest of the world in the dust. Even Ajax, the mouse that roared, fell in the semi-finals, and it would take some doing for Celtic to even think about matching that team’s talent in the next 10 years. It would have to be the Europa League final, where clubs like Dnipro, Braga and Athletic Bilbao that are closer in budget and talent to Celtic have featured over the last decade (and to do that we’d have to be in the EL to start with, which wouldn’t make anyone all that happy).
KEARNEY: False. Not going to happen. Not in the current way the club is structured and the way that the gap is increasing between the haves and the have nots. We are good for one or two huge performances in Europe each season – think Leipzig, Man City, Mönchengladbach. To get to a final, you need to battle through the group stages then at least another 4 rounds against better opposition each time. We cannot operate in those surroundings on a consistent basis. It is painful to say it but unless there is a massive change, group stage qualification and last 16 of Champions League is our ceiling just now.
WALLACE: True. With the right management and the right players in the right areas, Celtic could complete in Europe. If players like Ajer, Tierney and Edouard stick around they could be nurtured into top class players. Just look at Ajax this season. I wouldn’t say that they have a better team than us, and the only reason they didn’t get to the final was because of an absolute blunder. If a manager comes in and tries to make it in Europe and not just domestically, we could have a good chance.
Verdict: True 2-2 False. Optimism vs realism? It’s possible but it would require a set of circumstances that may be beyond our reach – along with a barrel or two of luck. That being said, UEFA’s plans for a second Europa League could finally give us a stage on which we can compete.
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.