A much-debated topic in the world of football – how would Celtic perform in the Premier League? Scotland’s top team have been dominant; winning the Scottish Premiership six times in a row. Brendan Rodgers replaced Ronny Deila, and the Bhoys are currently undefeated in the league under the ex-Liverpool boss.
There is an undeniable quality gap between the Scottish Premiership and the Premier League. However, some people believe Celtic – who are regulars in the Champions League – would actually perform well in England’s top division while others think they will struggle. Rodgers believes his side would be a ‘frightening prospect’ for Premier League teams if the controversial move to English football were ever completed.
Using the power of Football Manager 17, we moved Celtic into the Premier League (Sorry Sunderland!) to see how they would perform…
— Marcus Banks (@MarcusBanks7) March 16, 2017
We gave Celtic a transfer budget of £30m due to the money received by Premier League clubs from the ever-increasing TV deals. However, Rodgers decided he was happy with the majority of his squad, and no players left Celtic Park. The Northern Irishman decided to bring Manchester United striker James Wilson on loan and also completed a season-long loan deal for Marseille defender Doria.
In January, no players left, but Rodgers decided to complete his first permanent transfer since returning to England. He spent £4.9m which could rise to £7m on Preston’s Welsh goalkeeper, Chris Maxwell. That concluded Celtic’s business in the transfer window despite being given £30m to play with.
Rodgers experimented with a number of formations during his time in England with Liverpool but stuck to a 4-3-3 formation with the Hoops.
Craig Gordan was the preferred number one, but an injury forced Rodgers’ hand in the transfer market which led to the arrival of Maxwell. In his back four was Mikael Lustig, Doria, Kolo Toure and Kieran Tierney.
His midfield consisted of Kouassi Eboue, Nir Bitton and the skipper Scott Brown.
On the wings was Manchester City owned Patrick Roberts and Leigh Griffiths with Moussa Dembele leading the line.
The star of Celtic’s season was Eboue, who impressed fans with his robust performances in the middle of the park. He averaged the highest rating in the Celtic squad with 7.20. His performances have attracted the interest of Arsenal and West Ham who are both considering a summer move for the 19-year-old.
Unsurprisingly, their top scorer was Dembele. The French striker was linked with a move to the Premier League earlier in the season, but doubts remain over whether he can cut it in England. He netted 20 goals in 56 appearances; including six goals in Celtic’s Champions League campaign.
Manchester United will be disappointed by Wilson’s progress during his time on loan; he failed to make a single start for the Hoops all season. Despite making 31 appearances from the bench, he did manage to score goals but could not force his way into Rodger’s plans.
Another poor performer was Brown – who failed to lead by example in the middle of the park. The Celtic captain had the lowest average rating of players who had played over 30 fixtures.
Scott Sinclair also struggled with the move to English football with Rodgers choosing to use him as a rotational winger. Players such as James Forrest, Gary Mackay-Stevens and Christian Gamboa struggled for game time; making just nine starts between the three players.
The media had predicted that Celtic would narrowly avoid relegation; contrary to the belief that the Scottish side could challenge at the top of the Premier League.
Unfortunately for Celtic, they were relegated to the SkyBet Championship. The Bhoys won just eight games all season – all of which came against sides in the bottom half of the table. They had problems all over the pitch as they kept the joint fewest clean sheets in the league. They also scored the second lowest amount of goals which led to their poor form. Their struggles in the league were not helped by a lack of support as they were the only team to not sell out in a single Premier League game.
Celtic progressed to the group stages after winning in the qualification rounds but were matched against Bayern Munich in Group F alongside Basel and Dynamo Kiev. Celtic finished in third meaning they were demoted to the Europa League. After knocking out CSKA Moscow and Shakhtar, they exited the competition in the quarter-final; losing 3-2 to Celta Vigo. The run in Europe was respectable, but their poor league position means no European football next season.
There was more disappointment in the domestic cups. A home loss to West Ham in the third round of the EFL Cup meant the FA Cup was the only chance of winning a trophy in their debut season in England. They knocked out Brentford in the 3rd round but fell short against Newcastle after taking the tie to a replay.
The shortfalls in the season saw Rodgers lose his job.
To conclude, Celtic were nowhere near good enough to survive in the Premier League. Their problems all over the pitch highlighted the massive difference in quality between English and Scottish football. Next season they face another huge challenge in the Championship; a league with many different challenges than the top division. If you want to see how they performed following their relegation, comment below!
Where do you think Celtic would finish in the Premier League? Comment below