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?
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.
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.
Transfer: £5.2 million
Wage: £481,000 per week (Current spend: £471,000)
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.
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.
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.
Star midfielders (Scott Brown, Patrick Roberts)
Star defender (Mikael Lustig)
Right back depth
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.
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.
- 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
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
Defensive centre back
Ball playing defender
Ball winning midfielder
Deep lying playmaker
Dorus De Vries
Defensive centre back
Ball winning midfielder
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