What If? Rodgers | Arsenal | Ajer | Sixes

There have been many defining moments in Celtic’s history, and many hypothetical scenarios we’re left wondering about. In this feature, we ask our panel of writers for their take on a few of these. I’m Stephen Russell (@SJRussell23) and on the team this week we have Eoin Coyne (@toomanybigwords), Liam Divers (@LDivers91), Matt Evans (@SkylandsCSC) and Ronan Kearney (@Kearney1085).

What if Peter Lawwell leaves next season due to Lennon walking out and not being able to find a replacement and, for a reduced wage, The Rat offers to come back and lead Celtic to the 10?

COYNE: After much rejoicing, Celtic is run more akin to the German model with much greater fan involvement. The £75k per week Lawell picks up is used to fund exotic, exciting transfers. The rat is invited up to interview for the job but we pretend we’re not at home when he rings the bell. Marcelo Bielsa is appointed and leads Celtic to the 10. And the Europa League. 

DIVERS: Absolutely not. Not a chance. No way. Bolt.  Get.To.Fuck.

I’d rather give the job to Hoopy the Huddle Hound than that Rat. Plus, there’s no chance of Hoopy trying to bugger off to China mid-season. Hard pass.

EVANS: It’s funny, because I canvassed a few of the Cynics yesterday about a similar issue that I was experiencing in my work. The general consensus was that if the person left a job voluntarily but was otherwise a good employee, they should be welcomed back if the situation warranted. And in Celtic’s current predicament, where a broken washing machine fly-tipped in a field would do a better job managing the squad than the current incumbent, I think Rodgers coming back up the road would be fine and dandy. The board lucked into a manager of his ability in the first place, and the choice between the rat and Lennon is merely one charlatan over another.

KEARNEY: Dignity versus The 10? Fuck. They always say you should never go back, and I am behind that statement on this one. John Kennedy takes over instead and with Lawwell gone, there is no one guarding the biscuit tin. Kennedy spends every penny we have on ensuring we get the magic tenth title in a row. Kennedy’s Bhoys win the Quintuple Treble by beating the third incarnation of Rangers in the Scottish Cup final. Brendan Ratgers – recently sacked by Chelsea – looks forward to flag day where he will be paraded as one of the managers who led us to the 10. However, his position is given to his uncles who actually do support Celtic and weren’t just bullshitting us. 

What if Celtic played Arsenal in the knockout stage of the Europa League this season?

COYNE: One of them will dive. We will lose. Then a bit later that guy who dived will get his leg broken. But thats not funny *sniggers*. We would probably lose though, both legs, you just have to hope to keep it respectable. Tierney to score to a rousing Emirates round of applause (seated, naturally) because… well you just fucking know it’ll happen. On the plus side, it’ll be nice for KT to experience a win in a big European game at Celtic Park. On the other hand, if you are going to catch any of the English clubs on a bad night, it is Arsenal and it would be pretty sweet to watch the mental derelicts on that Arsenal Fan TV have full on breakdowns because they lost to a pub league team.

DIVERS: This is assuming we don’t flame out in the group stages after being beaten home and away by the champions of Finland or something equally embarrassing. If we were to meet them I assume it would be a lovely affair.

We would walk alongside Arsenal fans, arm in arm, celebrating our shared love of the beautiful game. The public houses around the stadium would be alive with the chatter of both sets of supporters as we passionately (but respectfully) debate our team’s merits. KT would receive a warm reception, with many Celtic supporters offering the hand of friendship. As kick off approached, the whole stadium would unite as one to sing the National Anthem and put on a stellar show of unity.

All of the above would categorically happen exactly as I’ve outlined.

EVANS: It would be a very entertaining trip down to London for the away support and Arsenal fans would finally be shown what an atmosphere sounds like. Traditionally, Celtic up their game against English opposition so I think the two legs of the tie would be pretty fierce battles. Arsenal are likely going to qualify for a Champions League place from the EPL this year so I expect they wouldn’t play their best eleven in the Europa League, even the knockout stages. And oh yeah, there’s a high probability Kieran Tierney would miss out due to injury.

KEARNEY: Why would I want to watch my ex flaunt her new relationship in my face? This goes the same way as the night Henrik came back to Parkhead with Barcelona. No one knows what to do, what to say. No one knows how to feel. I remember watching Larsson lift the ball over David Marshall and never wanting to feel anything like that ever again. I would take anyone but Arsenal in Europe this season. 

What if Ajer and Ralston became best pals and Ajer said he would only play for Celtic if his friend could start next to him regularly?

COYNE: At times football can be a dirty, dirty business. Obviously this cannot stand. First thing first, bundle Ralston into the back of a van and drop him off at Dunfermline or something, then,  someone at the Celtic media team will need to mock up some tweets and whatsapps from ‘Ralston’ basically slagging off Ajer’s hair, saying his biceps are small and insignificant, saying the Ralston Hoidy badge will sell more, saying Egil Olsen is a specky gimp with shit wellies – that kind of thing. A furious Ajer will then be encouraged to text Dani Alves on the rebound.

DIVERS: This has the feeling of one of those videos that goes viral where 2 animals who shouldn’t be friends, inexplicably are. Like a goat and a crocodile or some shit. You have the feeling that at some point it will go terribly wrong, but you ignore it and let them run about together. They’re having fun and it’s a great laugh. Then one day the big one eats the wee one and everybody is shocked but not surprised. 

EVANS: To paraphrase Newman from ‘Seinfeld’, “I’ll take a little Ralston if it’ll get me a lot of Kris Ajer”. This winter, Ajer will take Ralston into the northern forests of Norway for an intensive four-week Rocky IV-style training camp, where Ralston will learn the secrets that have made Ajer what he is: tough, disciplined, capable of goal-saving tackles and marauding runs through midfield, and generally just a total ride. Ralston, having gained 15 pounds of muscle and his confidence, has a monster second half to take the YPOTY prize (with his best buddy Kris winning POTY).

KEARNEY: “Lawwell boosts Celtic’s transfer funds as Ajer and Ralston sold in double transfer swoop”. The end.

What if Tennents’ Sixes started up again – how do you line up?

COYNE: They should absolutely do this for real by the way. Sixes is a delicate balance to get right, you need a couple of wee skillful guys with a great touch and a bit of energy (McGregor, Christie), a fearless mentalist in goal (Kung Fu Craig – even if he’s more reckless than fearless), one hardchaw to wind up and kick lumps out of the other team (Broony), one guy who is ridiculously quick (Jamesy) and one lethal finisher (French Eddy).

DIVERS: Gordon, Ajer, Elhamed, McGregor, Christie, Edouard.

EVANS: Am I allowed to bench Scott Brown? I am? Splendid. Way back in the day, my uncle, who introduced me to Celtic, used to get Betamax tapes of the Tennents Sixes mailed over from Scotland. It was great watching because in those lean years for Celtic, where we finished third in the league at best, it was a more open competition and the Huns didn’t win all the time. My lineup: Ajer (sweeper-keeper), McGregor, Forrest, Griffiths, Christie, and the secret weapon, Karamoko Dembele.

KEARNEY: Gordon in goal to give him a game. His shot stopping will be invaluable in the small goals. Ajer at the back leading the team – captain of the six with nothing getting past him. McGregor and Ntcham playing in the middle of the park with the energy of McGregor complimenting the sheer flair and close control of Ntcham. Controversial choice of Tam as my fifth pick – the guy played futsal so is going to be a whizz at this stuff. There can be only be one man up front – L’Eddy. That six would probably beat most team’s eleven in fairness. Temptation to play Dembele Junior, Christie and Boli almost got the better of me here but I am confident in my picks to go for the Quadruple Quadruple.

If you have any situations that you’d like to put to our future panels, let us know in the comments below or alternatively on Twitter @90MinuteCynic or @SJRussell23. Thanks for reading.

Despite growing up, and now studying, in England, Celtic have always been a huge part of my life. I first watched the team with my dad; I fell in love and then there was no turning back. Torn between a statistically enhanced footballing style and a good, old-fashioned get-it-in-the-mixer-and-score style.

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