2020/21 Season Preview - Celtic: The Pressures of 10 In A Row
Like every season in recent times, Celtic will go into the season as favourites to win the Scottish Premiership. What makes this upcoming season more special, would be that if Celtic are victorious, a record will be set for most consecutive titles in Scotland. Currently, Celtic have 9 in a row spanning from the 2011/12 season to 2019/20, matched by the Celtic squads from1965/66 to 1973/74 and city rivals Rangers dominance from 1988/89 to 1996/97. A tenth title in the row would be historic for the club and its supporters would take great joy in the success, despite other fans claiming it should go alongside several asterisks.
The Hoops have enjoyed great domestic success, dominating the league and cups in recent years as expected with the club's pull towards talent and overpowering resources. The club has made smart investments, developing a team with a good mix of experienced players and homegrown talent enjoying a lot of success.
However, in terms of pressure, this upcoming season will be by far the biggest any of the Celtic team has played in. Winning 10 in a row is a massive accomplishment that the fans are so desperate for, with the chance to outright gloat over their fierce rivals something they won't want to pass up on. There's so much more than a league title riding on this season and with that, every little detail of Celtic's season will be scrutinised and analysed to try ensure that they capitalise on this opportunity. This could be a good thing, it ensures everyone knows the importance of every single game but at the same time, could very well be a downfall.
Playing for a club like Celtic always brings pressure. There are many players who haven't been able to cope with the demands at Parkhead and have ultimately failed at the club. Right now, the mentality of many seems to be solid, shown clearly by their winning mentality. However, this season will see this character and resiliency be tested on a whole new level. Fans are very critical as it is, with the likes of James Forrest and Kristoffer Ajer often victims of a vocal support highlighting issues in individuals play. Simply put, with tensions elevating and the desire to come out on top at an all-time high, it may be too much for players, the manager or the whole team.
Pressure can make or break players and only time will showcase how this Celtic side cope with it. On paper, you'd have to say that they are the best side in the country, unmatched in depth with quality options all around, especially going forward. Odsonne Edouard had a phenomenal campaign last season with the likes of Ryan Christie, James Forrest and Calum McGregor all chipping in with plenty of goals and assists. That's not even mentioning other options such as Leigh Griffiths - if he' still at the club - Tom Rogic and the returning Mohamed Elyounoussi who all pose incredible threats when featuring. You don't win every trophy for the past four years by pure luck and Celtic have plenty of quality that could very well see them pull off another clean sweep. The squad assembled by Celtic is the best in the country and has been for quite some time, although there is one key area they absolutely must strengthen to remain on top.
Fraser Forster enjoyed an excellent return to Parkhead last season and proved to be extremely vital at certain points of the season, most notably in the Europa League and that Betfred Cup Final Vs Rangers. 'The Great Wall' can pull out world-class performances which Celtic benefitted massively from last season as Neil Lennon brought in the gigantic goalkeeper on loan as the manager chose against sticking with Scott Bain or Craig Gordon. As with loan deals, Forster has returned to Southampton and Celtic have unsuccessfully tried to get him back on board before the season starts. Meanwhile, Craig Gordon has rejoined Hearts, leaving Celtic with the unfancied Scott Bain and reserve keepers Conor Hazard and Ross Doohan. Celtic will want a stronger goalkeeper to come in, just as they did last season to great avail. At the time of this, it is the clear weakness of this Celtic side but there is a long way to go in terms of transfers, with the possibility of bringing in Forster or even his former teammate Joe Hart very much needed. A good goalkeeper can win you many valuable points and fans aren't convinced their current options are fit enough to match the standard Forster set in the previous season.
There's still time for Celtic to purchase a first choice keeper which makes the pressure they'll face this season arguably the biggest hurdle the club will have to overcome within themselves. It's been a quiet season so far on the transfer front, with Elyounoussi returning on loan the only incoming business whilst Jonny Hayes, Jozo Simunovic, Craig Gordon and Jack Hendry (loan) have departed. There's a long way to go and should things not go well or the need to strengthen is clear, they have until 5th of October to strengthen.
Celtic start the season with quite a kind schedule, only facing two of the previous top six - Aberdeen and Motherwell - with both games at home and starting with a game against Hamilton Accies. Celtic will be expected to take maximum points from most of these fixtures but as previously mentioned, the pressure may play a part. Or maybe it won't at all and Celtic show great credibility to go alongside their talented squad and achieve the prodigal 10 in a row. Nonetheless, this season will be historic for Celtic, either in their favour or in the form of a crushed dream. With this in mind, this is certainly going to be an exciting season and hopefully, for the neutral one that is full of twists and turns.