Football Manager 2018: Celtic guide, player ratings & tactics

Almost guaranteed to win the league title every season, can you take Celtic to the next level on the European stage on FM18?


Since Rangers suffered from financial meltdown in 2012, Celtic have had it very easy in Scottish football. With no pressure from their Old Firm rivals, the Bhoys have walked to six Scottish Premiership titles on the bounce, but questions still remain in European competition.

In the past six seasons, Celtic have only reached the knockout stages in Europe on three occasions, with their best finish coming in 2013 where they got to the Champions League last 16. With little challenge domestically, the only growth Celtic can make is in European football. 

This is your goal as you set up with Celtic on Football Manager 2018. With a squad far superior to any other Scottish side, domestic honours should take care of themselves. But can you take the Bhoys to a European quarterfinal?

Philosophies

Celtic managing director Peter Lawwell will welcome you to the club and present the philosophies you must follow as manager. With the Scottish champions you will only need to sign young players for the first team. Celtic have done this in recent years with Moussa Dembele, Virgil Van Dijk and Victor Wanyama. 

Expectations

As you can imagine, the targets set at Celtic will be quite high. Club chairman Ian Bankier will set the default expectations as reaching the group stage of the European Champions Cup, winning the Ladbrokes Premiership and Scottish Cup, with the Betfred Cup not important.

If you aim for the first knockout round of the Champions Cup you will be given an extra £500,000.

Budget

Transfer: £5.2 million

Wage: £481,000 per week (Current spend: £471,000)

Formation

Under Brendan Rodgers, Celtic tend to use a 4-2-3-1 system, but with two superb strikers you need to play two up front. If you’re feeling conservative go for a 4-4-2, but with the clubs in Scotland there for the taking, we have opted for a 4-2-4 wide.

Craig Gordon takes his place in goal, with a back four consisting of Mikael Lustig, Jozo Simunovic, Marvin Compper and Jonny Hayes.

Scott Brown and Tom Rogic are the central midfielders as Patrick Roberts and Scott Sinclair operate in the wide areas.

The clinical pairing of Moussa Dembele and Leigh Griffiths link up in attack.

On the bench opt for Dorus De Vries, Jack Hendry, Cristian Gamboa, Callum McGregor, Stuart Armstrong, Charly Musonda and James Forrest. 

Key players

Celtic have some top players on their books, but your task will be to keep them at the club for the next few seasons.

Scott Sinclair – CA 3.5 star (140), PA 3.5 star (141)

Scott Sinclair shone during Swansea’s rise up the Premier League, but the winger couldn’t resist a big money move to Manchester City. His career dwindled and the move north to Scotland has resurrected his form. Now 28, Sinclair has netted an impressive 42 goals in 94 games for Celtic. 

On FM, the former Chelsea player has a 140 current ability which is just off his potential of 141. Sinclair’s best stats are 17 penalty taking, 16 natural fitness and 16 off the ball.

Moussa Dembele – CA 3.5 star (139), PA 3.5-4.5 star (140-170)

Someone who is likely to leave Celtic in the next few years is Moussa Dembele. The striker arrived from Fulham in 2016 and has gone on to score 45 goals in 80 games in Scotland. The 21-year-old has seven in 10 for France U21s, making him one of Europe’s brightest prospects.

Dembele’s 139 CA can improve to a potential between 140 and 170, and he has attributes of 16 acceleration, 15 strength and 15 finishing. 

Leigh Griffiths – CA 3.5 star (139), PA 3.5 star (140)

Joining Dembele up front is Leigh Griffiths, who has had a very different journey. The striker failed to make an impact at previous club Wolves until they suffered back-to-back relegations to League One. A successful campaign on the back of two years on loan at Scottish club Hibernian persuaded Celtic to take a chance on the forward who has rewarded the club with 97 goals in less than four and a half seasons. 

Still only 26, Griffiths offers a 139 CA, just one shy of his 140 potential. The Scotsman has skills of 17 anticipation, 16 corners and 16 finishing on FM this year. 

Young talent

Players such as Shay Given, Aiden McGeady and current squad member James Forrest are all products of the Celtic academy. You should look to use your youth squad and allow your first team players to rest until the big clashes.       

Anthony Ralston – CA 2 star (108), PA 4-5 star (120-150)

With already 10 games for Celtic, it is a surprise to see Anthony Ralston to be in the youth squad on FM. The 18-year-old is hot on the tail of back-up right back Cristian Gamboa and you should expect Ralston to become a part of your first team plans before the end of the season. His 108 current ability score has the capacity to increase to a potential between 120 and 150. 

Mikey Johnston – CA 1.5 star (74), PA 3-4 star (120-150)

Also with first team appearances is attacking or wide midfielder Mikey Johnston. The 18-year-old will perhaps not get many opportunities in your FM save, so you should consider loaning him out this season. Johnston’s 74 CA will improve to a potential between 120 and 150. 

Jack Aitchison – CA 1 star (71), PA 2.5-3.5 star (120-150)

Jack Aitchison may only be 17 but that hasn’t stopped him from playing three times for the Celtic first team. A goal and assist in those appearances is a sharp return, with the striker or right winger likely to play a big part for the club as he develops. The youngster’s 71 CA can improve to a potential between 120 and 150. 

Team report


Strengths

Weaknesses

Decisions

Overall depth

Work rate

Wage budget

Coaching staff

Teamwork

First touch

Youth prospects

Scouting staff

Star midfielders (Scott Brown, Patrick Roberts)

Goalkeeper depth

Star defender (Mikael Lustig)

Right back depth

Leadership

Passing

Transfer budget

Strength

Aggression

Dynamics

Team Leaders – Scott Brown (captain), Mikael Lustig (vice-captain), Craig Gordon

Highly influential – Callum McGregor, Leigh Griffiths, Nir Bitton, Stuart Armstrong, James Forrest

The main new feature for Football Manager 2018 is Dynamics. This tab shows the atmosphere inside the dressing room at your club, and you should identify the various social groups inside the squad, and which players hold the greatest influence over their peers. Saying the wrong thing to the wrong player could cause the dressing room to turn against you and harm the performances on the pitch. 

Transfer targets

By Scottish football standards, a transfer budget of over £5 million is quite hefty, but you should look to be careful with it. We suggest bringing in one first team player now and saving the rest for January. Bear in mind that you only have £10,000 a week left over to use on wages. 

Left back – Roderick Miller (CA 121, PA 128)

Superb left back Kieran Tierney is out injured until around December, leaving you very short in the position. Left winger Jonny Hayes or centre back Marvin Compper can be shoe-horned in there, but to be safe you should bring in someone new.

Roderick Miller may not be a household name, but the Panama international should get you through until January. The 25-year-old can be picked up for just £375,000, with his wages currently only £1,000 a week. Miller’s 121 current ability score can improve to a potential of 128, and he holds stats of 16 jumping, 15 strength and 14 stamina. 

Alternative options:

  • Georgi Shchennikov – Age 26, CSKA Moscow, Russia, CA 130, PA 133, Value: £1.9m, Wage: £19k
  • Eliseu – Age 33, SLB, Portugal, CA 129, PA 141, Value: £200k, Wage: £20k
  • Alberto de la Bella – Age 31, Real San Sebastian, Spain, CA 128, PA 140, Value: £1.6m, Wage: £21k
  • Edwin Hernandez – Age 31, Chivas, Mexico, CA 127, PA 132, Value: £1.8m, Wage: £9k

Finances

As you would imagine, Celtic’s financial situation is fairly strong. The overall balance of the club is in on the rise, with turnover remaining constant. The club’s profits are set to turn to loss however, but you should have close to £10 million in your transfer budget for next season.

European success the target

As we mentioned before, putting on a respectful performance in Europe is paramount for Celtic. Winning the league is close to a formality, but that does put pressure on you. Squad rotation is the key and if you can keep hold of and add to your talented players in the coming transfer windows, you can take Celtic back to where they once were. 

Celtic first team squad, player roles and ratings

Player

Age

Pos

Role

Duty

Role Ability

CA/

PA

Starting lineup







Craig Gordon

34

GK

Goalkeeper

Defend

3 star

128/

147

Mikael Lustig

30

DR

Full-back/

Wing-back

Support/

Defend

4 star

137/

143

Jozo Simunovic

23

DCR

Defensive centre back

Any

3 star

129/

131

Marvin Compper

32

DCL

Ball playing defender

Cover

3 star

125/

138

Jonny Hayes

30

DL

Full-back/

Winger

Any

2 star

125/

131

Scott Brown

32

MCR

Ball winning midfielder

Defend/

Support

4 star

138/

145

Tom Rogic

24

MCL

Deep lying playmaker

Support

3 star

136/

145

Patrick Roberts

20

AMR

Inside forward

Support

3.5 star

134/

<160

Scott Sinclair

28

AML

Inside forward

Attack/

Support

3.5 star

140/

141

Leigh Griffiths

26

STCR

Advanced forward

Attack

3.5 star

139/

140

Moussa Dembele

20

STCL

Complete forward

Attack

3.5 star

139/

<170

Substitutes

Dorus De Vries

36

GK

Goalkeeper

Defend

2.5 star

121/

130

Jack Hendry

22

D (C)

Defensive centre back

Any

2.5 star

113/

145

Cristian Gamboa

27

D (R)

WB (R)

Full-back

Attack

2.5 star

115/

130

Callum McGregor

24

M (RLC)

AM (RLC)

Central midfielder

Attack

3 star

130/

133

Stuart Armstrong

25

M (C)

AM (C)

Attacking midfielder

Support

3.5 star

136/

145

Charly Musonda

20

DM

M (C)

AM (RLC)

Inside forward

Support

3 star

130/

<170

James Forrest

26

M (RL)

AM (RL)

Winger

Attack/

Support

3 star

125/

128

Reserves

Scott Bain

25

GK

Goalkeeper

Defend

2 star

99/

130

Kristoffer Ajer

18

D (C)

DM

M (C)

Ball winning midfielder

Support

2.5 star

114/

<160

Nir Bitton

25

DM

M (C)

Advanced playmaker

Support

3 star

130/

147

Olivier Ntcham

20

M (C)

AM (C)

Roaming playmaker/

Mezzala

Support

3 star

122/

148

Odsonne Edouard

19

ST (C)

Target man

Attack/

Support

2.5 star

115/

<150

Injured

Dedryck Boyata

26

D (C)

Central defender

Stopper

3 star

127/

135

Kieran Tierney

20

D (L)

WB (L)

Full-back

Attack

3.5 star

138/

<170

How is your FM save going? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Alastair Pusinelli

I am RealSport's Editor-in-Chief having covered almost everything across the board on the platform. Starting with content on football and the Chinese Super League, I have expanded into esports and gaming, via a stint as rugby editor.

With RS now focused on gaming and working alongside Gfinity, I led the site's coverage on the football titles of FIFA, Football Manager and PES. This has enabled me to cover official esports events such as the FIFA eWorld Cup, FUT Champions Cups and the Gfinity FIFA Series.

Elsewhere, I have been published in The Sunday Times and Variety magazine, as well as working in the offices of Brighton & Hove Albion FC and Hampshire CCC.

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