Celtic’s season is done and dusted for another year and the higher-ups at Parkhead can begin preparing for next term.
It has been an arduous campaign for the Bhoys, one they won’t want to relive in a hurry. From Boli Bolingoli’s moment of madness with the pandemic at the start of the season to conceding a bucket load in Europe and protests outside the stadium, it has been a toxic environment.
Neil Lennon may well have now left his post, but it’s going to take quite something to turn this mess around.
Celtic should have romped to the title this year. Having won the nine previous SPFL crowns, many thought that there was always only going to be one winner. Though, as the campaign played out, it quickly became apparent that Rangers were the side who were going to win the league.
Indeed, that was confirmed on Sunday after the Hoops drew 0-0 with Dundee United. If there were any positives from that clash, it was that James Forrest was back in action.
The winger has been out injured since last September but is now finally back in action. Given how the season has panned out, it’s a welcome return for a man who offers so much to Celtic.
Forrest scored 16 times last term, racking up 22 assists in the process. Losing a player who offers those sorts of numbers is always going to be tough.
Though, they’ve also welcomed back another forward in recent months; Mikey Johnston. The 21-year-old missed the first half of the season with an MCL problem.
Forrest will undoubtedly be a major part of the Celtic rebuild but the future is less clear for Johnston. He has played just eight times this season but interim manager John Kennedy has teased the idea of him returning to the side.
Johnston hasn’t been in the matchday squad over the last four games but there are now hopes he could play a starring role in the not too distant future.
Kennedy commented last weekend: “We’ve certainly missed that [Forrest’s numbers]. There have been periods in games where you need someone who can unlock and have that bit of individual brilliance.
“So between him and Mikey Johnston, we’ve had guys like that missing, they’re your eliminators.
“As much as a team can set up in a structure to block you up, if you get James, guys like Mikey Johnston and your wingers in dangerous areas one on one versus full-backs then that can break any structure.”
Although Forrest will have leapfrogged Johnston in the pecking order, there is a case for Kennedy to unleash him before the season ends.
A vibrant youngster, Celtic are surely better off developing Johnston’s game than someone like Ryan Christie. He has only scored twice in his last 25 outings and has been linked with the exit door. Celtic pundits have even tipped the wide man to leave the club.
The £9k-per-week Johnston has never quite had what it takes to make the senior side on a regular basis but that should change if you heed the words of Kennedy.
Possessing the ability to beat a man – making four dribbles per game in the Europa League last term – he is a dazzling ball of energy. The winger needs to be a part of Celtic’s future just as much as Forrest.