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Celtic FC
Posted by Andy Muirhead on 01/22/2012

Celtic are sitting pretty at the top of the Scottish Premier League, four points clear of rivals Rangers after the Ibrox side were held to a 1-1 draw at Ibrox. It has been a massive turn around in the fortunes of Celtic Football Club since the beginning of November when they were 12 points behind their rivals, with many writing off Neil Lennon's side.

Lennon has overseen Celtic's 12 match unbeaten run, while Ally McCoist's side stagger, stumble and falter against teams they really should be beating. Proving that they were heavily reliant on the form of the want-away Nikica Jelavic and Steven Naismith, the latter being out for the season through injury.

While Neil Lennon, his management team and the players must all share the credit for the great turn around, former Celtic team mate Bobby Petta points to the influence of Martin O'Neill.

In an exclusive interview, Petta stated: "I think Lennon and the whole staff have been doing a good job. It’s his second season, it's not been all rosey either, he's had a lot of challenges and a lot of bad things happen on and off the pitch.

"But I think they've done a really good job, especially now when they were 15 points behind and now two points ahead. May this continue and I can see a lot of influences from Martin O'Neill in Lenny.

"You can see that being very animated on the sidelines, same thing with Paul Lambert, there’s a lot of things that have rubbed off."

Petta added: "But Lenny is doing a very good job, and he's got some very young talented players, like Forrest. They need to keep producing especially with the money situation too, local talent, home-grown talent is very important."

On the talents of Forrest, Petta said: “I think he’s been growing and growing, obviously his performances this season have been outstanding, scoring goals, coming inside and scoring with his weakest foot too.

“He’s growing as I said, he is evolving; not so much going down the wing on the sidelines, but coming inside to link up with the strikers. He’s got good work rate. I’ve spoken to him a few times, the boy is very eager and listens.

“I think nowadays, especially with the younger players, where they get a lot of attention and being young in the first team too, there’s a lot of pressure being at Celtic. But he’s kept his own and he will only get better and better.”

Forrest has been linked with moves to England and was recently named in FIFA's list of 13 youngsters destined to make a big impression in 2012.

Petta added: “He is only going to get better, but Celtic need to try and keep him for as long as possible.”

The Dutchman also admitted that he would love to return to Celtic Park.

He added: “I would love too, I’m not going to lie about that, I would love to be involved, either with being a coach there, being an assistant, whether for the Under-19s or the first team. Depends on the conditions, but I want to be involved."

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Posted by cathairbhoy on 01/22/2012

bring back Bobby! The man loves the Hoops!

Posted by Bret on 01/24/2012

Andy, this is going to sound harsh, but I assure you it is an honest question. Now that the table has turned, how has your opinion of Brown as captain changed, if at all?

Hail Hail from the Alabama, USA.

Posted by Andy M on 01/24/2012

Hi Bret

In regards to my opinion of Scott Brown as captain - it still hasn't changed. I still believe that he is not good enough to be captain. Obviously others disagree, however I feel that he is too temperamental in his attitude and in terms of football ability, he is a bit of a headless chicken at times, running out of position, leaving gaps open and putting in the boot when its not needed.

Posted by Bret on 01/24/2012

If you wouldn't have Brown, who would get your armband among the the current starting XI and why?

Thanks for responding.

Posted by Andy M on 01/24/2012

Current player that would be appointed captain in place of Brown? Kayal, Mulgrew, Wilson and Majstorovic have all been used by Lennon in the absence of Brown. Should they be given the armband permanently? No.

Potentially Joe Ledley - other than that I can't see another 'captain' in that side yet.

Posted by Bret on 01/25/2012

And I agree. It's not that I can't see anyone else being captain of this squad. It's more that I can't see anyone currently here being a better captain for this squad.

Granted, geographically I'm infinitely farther away than most CFC fans and probably not privy to the ins and outs of the off-the-field goings on. But, to me at least, Brown seems to hold the squad together, regardless of his on-field "inadequacies." Recent interviews with Cha and Emilio come to mind.

If the suggestion is to go and get someone who could become captain, someone that can be the man Brown is off the pitch as well as be more than him on the pitch, then that would be awesome. However, I think that, right now at least, there isn't a huge pressing need to replace him.

I like Ledley and if Brown weren't around, he would probably get my vote.

Posted by Bryan on 01/27/2012

I think sometimes Scott Brown is unfairly criticized for his shortcomings on the pitch. My take on the situation is that he wasn't signed as the most polished or accomplished player but as a box-to-box midfielder with the energy and drive to snap about the field and hassle other teams. I think he does that well. It's only natural that style of play will result in bookings and so forth. I think he has the bottle when things aren't necessarily going Celtic's way, which if I'm being honest, can't really be said for some of our other midfielders. Broony would be in my team every week if he could stay fit. I can't really offer any statistics to back up this claim, but I don't think it's any coincidence that our resurgence in the league has coincided wtih Brown's return to form and the starting line up.

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