Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 29 November 2014

Celtic need fresh faces

Celtic celebrate winning the during the Clydesdale Banks Scottish Premier League at Celtic Park, Glasgow
Celtic celebrate winning the during the Clydesdale Banks Scottish Premier League at Celtic Park, Glasgow

Af celebrating winning successive SPL titles on Sunday as Celtic manager, Neil Lennon's focus now turns towards the Scottish Cup final and into next season.

There wasn't any real doubt that Celtic would win the league championship and although at times they haven't been at their fluent best they've had more than enough to come out on top.

Looking back at the season there a few games which stood out for me where they showed the difference in class from the rest of the teams.

On Wednesday, November 28 they went to Tynecastle to play Hearts at what has been a difficult venue for them in recent seasons.

They were 3-0 up within half an hour and they simply blew Hearts away. The intensity of their play was high, they dictated the game and were clinical when their chances came along.

It was the kind of performance everyone knew Celtic were capable of domestically, it's just it took until November for them to produce it.

This convincing victory set them on a run of 11 SPL wins from 12 games and effectively won them the championship.

During that impressive run of form they faced second placed Motherwell on January 2 at Celtic Park.

Ahead of the game Motherwell knew a win could cut Celtic's advantage at the top to just three points and put a bit of pressure on them going into the winter shutdown.

With the game poised at 0-0 Motherwell earned a penalty but Fraser Forster was the Celtic hero, as he has been many times this season, and brilliantly saved Tom Hateley's spot kick.

The inspiration and lift that gave his team-mates was evident because within minutes Gary Hooper pounced to earn Celtic a vital 1-0 victory and a nine points cushion.

On Sunday, the Celtic players answered Neil Lennon's wishes for a stylish performance with a 4-1 victory over Inverness, sending the fans home contented.

For Neil Lennon, he's already begun looking towards the Champions League qualifiers next season and how he can bolster his current squad.

There's no doubt his main aim is to keep the likes of Hooper and Victor Wanyama, whether that's possible or not remains to be seen but additions will also be a necessity.

It's the perfect time for Lennon to attract new players, mainly on the back of their Champions League efforts and the publicity they received, in particular that victory over Barcelona.

New players always bring freshness to a club, of that there's no doubt, but for Lennon they'll have to be within his price bracket and have the right mentality to play at Celtic Park.

I feel they still need a no-nonsense, old-fashioned, dominant centre half. Recently they have looked a little bit frail in the centre back area with the goals conceded certainly preventable.

At a push another priority for Lennon would be to attract a top- class playmaker who can unlock the door in tight games, mainly in the SPL, but also on the European scene. These guys can be worth their weight in gold in the bigger games, so it would be a crucial addition.

As the dust settles on another triumph Lennon must be excited about his future and that of his club.

Celtic's reputation has been rebuilt on the European front but he will know more than anyone he can't sit back and admire that.

The former Northern Ireland midfielder will be well aware there's always another challenge awaiting you in football.

I'm certain he will be up for that challenge. If Lennon's players have learned one thing from him it's that he constantly demands more.

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