This is the argument being used by Sevco fans right now, and even some Celtic fans, that we have ‘stood still’ and not strengthened the team from last season.
Signing Jota and Cameron Carter-Vickers for around £12m in total, is not considered strengthening the team as they were both there last season.
I can see that point of view. I mean, it’s a fact, they were both in the team last season.
But then I realised, the only true way to determine if we have stood still and not strengthened the team, is to look at how we lined up at the start of last season.
Why would we compare the team from how we ended last season to the start of the next season? That’s two complete opposite ends of the season.
So I took this line of thinking and looked back at out starting line up against Hearts at Tynecastle at the start of last season.
For a start, Scott Bain played in goals. Joe Hart will be playing in goals against Aberdeen at Celtic Park on Sunday, so we have immediately strengthened in the very first position on the team sheet.
At right back, we had Anthony Ralston, who may well play on Sunday, and it he does it is absolutely clear that he is a better player now than he was at the start of last season. And if he doesn’t start, it will be Juranovic, again, strengthening on Ralston from the start of last season.
At centre back, we had Nir Bitton and Car Starfelt, who had just joined the club the day before, whereas on Sunday we will have CCV and in my opinion Moritz Jenz. It’s definite upgrade as Bitton was never a centre back and Starfelt had an awful start at the club.
Left back against Hearts was Greg Taylor, who I think will also start against Aberdeen. Taylor has improved massively in the last 6 months or so and knows how to play the inverted full back role so well, so without a doubt we are also stronger there.
Callum McGregor will captain the side as he did against Hearts, and for argument’s sake I’ll say he is at the same level as last season and I’ll do the same for Liel Abada who also started on the right wing.
Turnbull started against Hearts and again I’ll concede he is at the same level, but if O’Riley plays instead which I think is likely, it could be argued that he is a better all round player.
Soro also started that game against Hearts, whereas Hatate will likely start against Aberdeen, a huge improvement.
James Forrest started on the left wing against Hearts, whereas Jota will likely start that side against Aberdeen, again, another huge improvement.
And up front, we can compare Edouard who had by a lot of Celtic supporter’s opinions ‘downed tools’ to either Kyogo or Giakoumakis and let’s be honest, either of them is another big improvement to that version of Edouard.
And that’s before we even look at the subs, which unlike last season will probably include players like Bernabei, Maeda, one of our key midfield trio mentioned earlier, Mooy and either Kyogo or Giakoumakis.
There is absolutely no questions that we are far stronger now than we were at the start of last season, where we lost 3 of our first 6 games in the league and drew the 7th, yet still went on to win the league.
There is no chance whatsoever that we will start that badly again, because we have have better individual players and we now have players that know the system and know what it takes to win a league title.