Glasgow Celtic down in the dumps

On the January night that he signed for Celtic and thousands waited past midnight outside Parkhead to greet him, Robbie Keane promised he’d win things in Scotland.

He was right. On Monday, Keane discovered that he’d been named Player of the Year by the very Celtic fans who welcomed him with such open arms three months earlier.

Incredibly, the Player of the Year trophy is the only trophy Keane will win this year -- and one more than Celtic can show off after an appalling season for this once mighty club.

That Keane has managed to convince the supporters that he’s been Celtic’s best player in this season of failure tells you all you need to know about the current plight of the former European champions.

The Ireland captain has played just 15 times and scored 13 goals since his arrival on loan from Spurs on the final day of the January transfer window.

That a player with so few games can still manage to win such an award tells you a lot about Celtic’s current status as the poor relations of Scottish football and -- more importantly to their fans -- Glasgow soccer.

No doubt owner-in-chief Dermot Desmond will want to see an improvement next season, but Keane won’t be about, not if he has any sense.

When he signed for then-manager Tony Mowbray, Keane genuinely believed that Celtic had a chance to snatch the league title from Rangers. So did Mowbray.

Alas Mowbray was sacked in March with Rangers, a club riddled with cash problems, all but guaranteed a second successive Scottish championship

Since then the current caretaker boss Neil Lennon saw his hopes of getting the job disappear in the wake of the shocking Scottish Cup semifinal defeat to Ross County.

And there’s little doubt that Keane will be back at Spurs as soon as the final whistle blows on the Scottish season in a fortnight.

He may not stay at Spurs for long either. There is talk of Martin O’Neill making another attempt to sign Keane in the summer, this time for Aston Villa.

O’Neill is, of course, the last great Celtic manager, the last man to show the supporters what it feels like to win leagues and cups and mount a serious challenge in Europe.

Things haven’t been quite the same at Parkhead since O’Neill left to take care of his ailing wife.

Gordon Strachan did a reasonable job but never really won over the fans despite all the trophies that came his way during his tenure.

Mowbray, for all his good work at West Brom, was a disaster from start to finish and Lennon, as Packie Bonner suggested elsewhere recently, needs to learn his trade before he lands this job on a permanent basis.

A host of names have been linked with the vacancy, and just this week some Spaniard called Manolo Jiminez claimed he’d love the job, having been sacked by Seville just last month.

He’s not alone and the club will have no trouble attracting a big name manager in the summer.

The real problem at Parkhead, though, is the fact that the Celtic regime just won’t spend the big money in the transfer market.

Until such time as they do entice the likes of Keane to sign on a permanent basis, their fans may well have to suffer seasons like this painful one all over again.

And that’s not something they are used to in and around Celtic Park.

The club that spawned the Lisbon Lions deserves that sort of European success again but it no longer looks like Scotland can provide the platform or the resources to mount such a challenge.

Maybe it’s time Desmond started to put real pressure on UEFA to allow his team into the English Premier League. Then keeping players like Robbie Keane wouldn’t be an issue at all -- and Robbie might win more than a Player of the Year title, nice and all as that is.


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