Ranking every Celtic player from the 2013/14 season

It might seem to outsiders that Celtic’s league campaign was business as usual in Glasgow but the Hoops actually had one of the best league campaigns in Scottish football history, racking up an incredible 99 points and 102 goals. This is in contrast to last season when they only managed 79 points.

While improving on domestic league consistency was one of Neil Lennon’s stated aims at the start of the season many fans were left disappointed when Lennon’s men were dumped out of both the Scottish Cup and League Cup. The fans live in a microcosm of football where anything less than a double is frowned upon.

It was a disappointing season in Europe too after failing to recreate those special nights in 2012/13 on their way to qualifying for the UEFA Champions League knockout stages.

In this roller coaster of a season, we count down on who fired the Bhoys to glory and who left the Celtic support scratching their heads in frustration.

[ffc-gallery]Click on Giorgios Samaras to reveal[/ffc-gallery]

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15. Georgios Samaras
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21. Derk Boerrigter

21. Derk Boerrigter
Appearances (Sub): 8 (15)
Goals: 1
Yellow Cards: 0
Red Cards: 0

Derk Boerrigter arrived last Summer from Ajax as one of Neil Lennon’s key signings ahead of another tilt at the UEFA Champions League. Quoted as costing anywhere between £1m and £3m, most Celtic fans wish he’d stayed on the injury tables in Amsterdam than using the ones in Glasgow.

Having a notorious injury record in his home country, he arrived claiming to the Scottish press he was no ‘sick note’ only to be sidelined by injury a day after that interview.

Appearances were few and far between after and when he did play he didn’t look like he had much to offer the Scottish Champions domestically, never mind in Europe.

20. Amido Balde

20. Amido Balde
Appearances (Sub): 3 (21)
Goals: 3
Yellow Cards: 0
Red Cards: 0

Another Summer signing last year, Amido Balde has not shown any of the promise he did in the Portuguese Primeira Liga the season prior.

The description of ‘raw’ Neil Lennon used to describe the striker on his arrival proved to be accurate, he is by no means the finished product.

Despite scoring 3 goals coming off the bench, it perhaps says it all that the highlight of his season was a goal in a Turkish friendly tournament during the Winter break. Will we see more of that or will he leave quietly in a loan deal back to Portugal?

19. Beram Kayal

19. Beram Kayal
Appearances (Sub): 13 (7)
Goals: 1
Yellow Cards: 3
Red Cards: 0

Once touted as the next big thing in the Celtic midfield, it’s been a few years since the Israeli truly excited the fans in the stands in Glasgow.

Struggling to cement his place in the side over the emerging Nir Biton or unnatural midfielder Charlie Mulgrew has led to speculation that this season might be his last in green and white.

If it is, he at least left with one memorable goal in the Champions League this season, his goal allowing victory over Ajax in the group stages.

18. Liam Henderson

18. Liam Henderson
Appearances (Sub): 4 (4)
Goals: 1
Yellow Cards: 1
Red Cards: 0

Liam Henderson would likely be much higher in this list had his cameo this season not been so late in the day. A product of Celtic’s state of the art Lennoxtown facility, the 18 year old has impressed fans and pundits North of the border even this early in his career.

His crowning moment was undoubtedly the assured finish that sent Celtic on their way to clinching the title against Partick Thistle, his first senior goal.

It’ll be interesting to see if he can lay a marker down as someone Neil Lennon can turn to on a regular basis next season. One to watch.

17. Darnell Fisher

17. Darnell Fisher
Appearances (Sub): 10 (3)
Goals: 0
Yellow Cards: 2
Red Cards: 0

Another youth that broke through the ranks this season was 20 year old Darnell Fisher. After injuries to Mikael Lustig and Adam Matthews, Neil Lennon trusted the young Englishman enough to step up and become a starting right back.

He didn’t disappoint, his pace and eye for a cross evident in the 10 league starts he made. It’s only because of the quality of the likes of Lustig and Matthews that he didn’t feature more.

There’s been reports he’s out of contract this Summer and wherever he plays next season be it at Celtic or back in England, he definitely has a bright career ahead of him.

16. Teemu Pukki

16. Teemu Pukki
Appearances (Sub): 16 (16)
Goals: 7
Yellow Cards: 2
Red Cards: 0

Teemu Pukki arrived from the Bundesliga last Summer as arguably Celtic’s biggest signing. The Finn has had a difficult time with glimpses of quality usually drowned out by runs of mediocre outings.

Neil Lennon has stuck with the striker though, perhaps feeling that his lack of impact this season is down to adapting to life in Scotland and a lack of confidence more than his ability.

He divides Celtic fans with many writing him off already and many thinking he’s shown enough to at least have another chance next season. It looks likely he’ll get that chance regardless of their views and there’s a good chance he can been Celtic’s most improved player next campaign.

15. Georgios Samaras

15. Georgios Samaras
Appearances (Sub): 23 (10)
Goals: 10
Yellow Cards: 6
Red Cards: 0

Ah Georgios. The enigma. The flamboyant. The frustrating. No player in recent years has had a more interesting journey at Celtic Park than the big Greek. Once derided, then worshipped, his last season in a Celtic shirt seemed to be a summary of his previous 5.

With his contract up it seems certain he’ll leave but he managed to score on his last appearance against Dundee United. He burst into tears, the emotional moment proving that Celtic will always be in his heart and that he too will always be in the hearts of Celtic fans.

If only he was more consistent, he could have been a Celtic superstar.

14. Stefan Johansen

14. Stefan Johansen
Appearances (Sub): 14 (3)
Goals: 2
Yellow Cards: 4
Red Cards: 0

Stefan Johansen has only been at Celtic since the end of January but has already become an integral member of the Celtic squad.

When Joe Ledley moved to Crystal Palace many worried that Celtic’s midfield would regress further after the departure of Victor Wanyama last Summer. The Norwegian eased those fears impacting with a series of man of the match performances and posing the question “Joe who?” in the minds of the Celtic fans.

If Celtic are to compete in Europe next season, Johansen will be a massive part of that. It was shrewd business to capture the Norwegian player of the year for only £2m or so. Is he the next big talent coming out of Glasgow? Time will tell.

13. Leigh Griffiths

13. Leigh Griffiths
Appearances (Sub): 11 (3)
Goals: 7
Yellow Cards: 3
Red Cards: 0

Griffiths arrived at Celtic Park in January and it’s fair to say the reaction of the fans amounted more to “Really?” than “Wow!”.

However, it was always clear the Edinburgh lad was going to bang in goals and bang them in hard.

He has proved that to be true and now looks like Celtic’s next great hope for goals after Gary Hooper moved down South.

There are serious question marks about his attitude and behaviour off the field and the greatest barrier to having a successful career in Glasgow looks to be the man himself.

If he sorts that out, there’s no stopping him.

12. Nir Biton

12. Nir Biton
Appearances (Subs): 11 (9)
Goals: 0
Yellow Cards: 0
Red Cards: 1

The pick of last year’s Summer signings is this man, Israeli Nir Biton. The internationalist had a fine season in the Hoops, slotting deep into the midfield.

He didn’t find a regular position in the side until December but when he did, he made his mark, performing consistently well into February on Celtic’s long winning run in the league.

Had he not received a groin injury he probably would have made another 8-10 appearances. Regardless he looks destined to feature heavily next season and will be key in giving the side defensive steel in Europe.

11. Adam Matthews

11. Adam Matthews
Appearances (Sub): 26 (4)
Goals: 1
Yellow Cards: 3
Red Cards: 0

Adam Matthews is one of the best young wing backs in Britain. I’m firmly a believer that he could be a fine English Premier League player at a mid table side.

The Welshman had a frustrating season by his standards, unable to shake off niggling injuries throughout.

When he did play he excelled with excellent tackling, blistering pace and the eye for an end product. It looks likely he’s staying at Celtic for another Summer and at 22, still has plenty of time to improve and improve. If I was an English club I’d be very interested.

10. James Forrest

10. James Forrest
Appearances (Sub): 21 (6)
Goals: 7
Yellow Cards: 1
Red Cards: 0

Forrest is another player who hasn’t managed to hit the heights of his ability due to injury this season. This is something which is starting to become regular with the 22 year old and there are concerns within the Celtic support that injuries might define his Celtic career.

However, his impact this season, especially in its early stages cannot be denied. He was the man who sent Celtic into the Champions League group stages with his crucial last minute winner seeing off Shakther Karagandy in the playoffs.

Also scoring in the group stages vs Ajax, there’s no denying James Forrest still has a bright future ahead of him. Next season could be a massive one for him, can he realise the potential he’s shown for years now?

9. Mikael Lustig

9. Mikael Lustig
Appearances (Subs): 23 (7)
Goals: 2
Yellow Cards: 2
Red Cards: 0

Mikael Lustig is a machine, a Terminator. Relentless, unstoppable, conquering. Seeing him cover Celtic’s right flank is a joy. You could spend 90 minutes watching him alone.

He would have been a player of the year contender had he not bowed out of the season in December for surgery. Up to that point he was a key player in Europe and absolutely demolishing all opponents domestically. The fact he keeps the fantastic Adam Matthews out of the team more often than not speaks volumes. Celtic are blessed to have two right backs of such quality.

He also scored a goal of the season contender away to Hearts in the Scottish Cup that was the pick of a 7 goal haul that should be youtube’d right now.

8. Charlie Mulgrew

8. Charlie Mulgrew
Appearances (Subs): 37 (3)
Goals: 6
Yellow Cards: 9
Red Cards: 0

The utility man. It’s easy to overlook Charlie Mulgrew’s impact on Celtic because he performs a number of roles. This season it has been mostly in midfield. Football purists might sneer at a central defender stepping into the middle of the park but he hasn’t looked out of place.

Perhaps in Europe Celtic need a more dynamic performer, such as the previously mentioned Johansen but domestically Charlie has excelled sitting deep and spreading passes across the park.

He suits Celtic and Celtic suit him, with his set piece capability also a big danger for the opposition it looks like Neil Lennon will rely on him in years to come.

7. Emilio Izaguirre

7. Emilio Izaguirre
Appearances (Subs): 46 (0)
Goals: 0
Yellow Cards: 8
Red Cards: 0

Lustig and Matthews on the right, Izaguirre on the left. He lives up to their standards and then some. The 2011 player of the year recaptured the form of his debut season in Scotland to have one of his best campaigns yet.

Skilful, intelligent and quick, he’s probably more of an asset in attack than defence. This is highlighted with 9 assists, third in the squad behind Stokes and Commons.

He recently gave an interview stressing how happy he and his family were in Glasgow so it looks like those big money moves talked about a few years ago may never come to fruition. If he keeps playing like he has this season, that’ll keep the Celtic Park faithful very happy indeed.

6. Scott Brown

6. Scott Brown
Appearances (Subs): 49 (0)
Goals: 4
Yellow Cards: 8
Red Cards: 1

The captain and leader of Celtic had a fine season in the Hoops. When Brown arrived at Celtic there were some who balked at his £4m price tag, a stick used to beat him for a number of years.

It’s clear by now, at least to me, that ‘Broony’ has paid back that fee with his contributions. The making of him was becoming club captain and every year since he has improved.

The team are noticeably sluggish and lacking without him in the team. It may be that his presence has more of an effect on the team than his ability as a footballer. This was highlighted in the Champions League campaign, his red card against Barcelona ruling him out for a number of crucial games, Celtic didn’t look like the same team.

5. Efe Ambrose

5. Efe Ambrose
Appearances (Subs): 51 (1)
Goals: 3
Yellow Cards: 5
Red Cards: 0

Nobody made more appearances this season than the somersaulting Nigerian Efe Ambrose. This is a testament to his consistency and the partnership he has formed with the imperious Virgil van Dijk.

That’s 2 standout seasons he has had now and looks like being a fixture in the Celtic defence for years to come.

Heading to the World Cup with African champions Nigeria, he also has one of the best celebrations in football. If he scores in Brazil expect the celebration to be better than the goal.

4. Anthony Stokes

4. Anthony Stokes
Appearances (Subs): 40 (4)
Goals: 21
Yellow Cards: 4
Red Cards: 1

When Gary Hooper left last Summer there were many wondering where the goals would come from. Anthony Stokes had a difficult year the season prior and many doubted he could step up and be counted.

He hit back with possibly his best season as a Celtic player. He matched his overall goal tally of 2011/12, 19 coming in the league, and pitched in with 11 assists.

After recently signing a new contract and with his Griffiths partnership looking tasty the next step for the Irishman is being effective in Europe. Can he bring his form onto the big stage? The jury is out on that one but with his determination you wouldn’t put it past him.

3. Fraser Forster

3. Fraser Forster
Appearances (Subs): 51 (0)
Goals: 0
Yellow Cards: 1
Red Cards: 0

La Gran Muralla, The Great Wall, that’s what the Spanish press call him after his exploits in the Champions League. A pretty good nickname to have as a goalkeeper and he lived up to it this season.

The big Englishman broke all sorts of records this season, ones that have stood for decades and decades. He quite literally became a part of Celtic and Scottish football history.

He eventually made it to 1,256 minutes of football without conceding when a Jonny Hayes goal, unstoppable by anyone’s standards, whistled past him up in Aberdeen.

Should Joe Hart make his inevitable mistake in Brazil (I’m Scottish OK), then England have a goalkeeper in Forster that is ready to take on the best and excel, he’s done it already many times.

Will he move on this Summer? It seems likely. If he does he’s leaving big boots to fill both in size and stature.

2. Virgil van Dijk

2. Virgil van Dijk
Appearances (Subs): 45 (2)
Goals: 5
Yellow Cards: 4
Red Cards: 1

The credit for Celtic’s clean sheet record this season can’t all go to Forster. This man arguably had as big a part to play.

The Hoops waited near on a decade for a player as good as this in the centre of defence. It’s a position that eluded Celtic scouts for years until they found Ambrose and then they found van Dijk.

Strong, confident, skilful, strong, strong, strong. There’s no getting away that van Dijk is destined for leagues bigger than the Scottish Premiership. He scores goals too… volleys, headers, free kicks.

Need I go on? He is the best footballer in Scotland by a distance, but one man had a bigger part to play this season…

1. Kris Commons

1. Kris Commons
Appearances (Subs): 44 (4)
Goals: 32
Yellow Cards: 4
Red Cards: 0

Kris Commons had his best season as a Celtic player, his best season as a footballer and likely one which will never be repeated in his career such was its standard.

Scoring an incredible 32 goals from midfield is the marquee stat that highlights that. It doesn’t tell the whole story though because he created and contributed to a lot more of Celtic’s goals and generally was the man that kept the Hoops ticking all year.

Yes Stokes hit 21 but it was Commons who filled the considerable hole left by Gary Hooper. His goal against Karagandy in the Champions League playoff was voted goal of the season by the Celtic fans and he picked up the club and the PFA Player Of The Year awards.

He’s an incredible performer and one again who is vital if Celtic can become competitive in Europe again. Can Celtic use him in the right way that allows him to bang them in against top level opposition?

 


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