Season 12 Update
Season 11 was solid, with almost 70 goals, but can Armstrong sustain that now that he's into his thirties? Let's see.
There were only a few major changes this year.
Alberto Bravo came in from Althetico Madrid for £47M, as a replacement for 32 year old Simon Tibbling. Bravo's attributes are very similar to Tibbling who has been great for us. Tibbling will be staying on with us until he retires, as he should trigger the manager's son feature.
Anthony Boardman moved from Swansea for £37M, after Kinglsey Coman's attributes dropped several points across the board once he turned 31.
Coman didn't appreciate this at all. He wanted to leave, but no-one wanted to buy him, even on a free. It would have cost too much to release him, so he hung around until the remaining value of his contract was low enough to let him go in the second part of the season. A sad way for a great player to exit the club.
This is going to be a long section....
Armstrong was reported to have an injury early in the season, but fortunately this was one of those phantom injuries and he didn't even miss a match (phew!).
Unfortunately this one in January was real:
He missed 4 games and it took a couple more before he scored (and that was a penalty). I also noticed his attributes had dropped, which is normal when a player gets injured, but he'd also had his 31st birthday while he was out. I was worried this may be one of those more permanent changes.
He got 7 goals in 3 games and I started to relax. But then he went 4 games without scoring, followed by this:
He missed 3 games this time, followed by another 3 or 4 games where he couldn't maintain his stamina (and forget about him scoring any goals). His stats had deteriorated further:
He finally scored another goal in the Scottish Cup Final, but then this happened in the Champions League Final:
At least he has the off-season to recover (if he can), but this was a truly dismal end to a promising season as you see in the next section. Two of the injuries happened late in the game, so I guess I need to be stricter about bringing him off (even though both times he was still over 75%).
We had a lot of injuries throughout the squad this year, so much so that the media wondered how I'd cope with it, which was a nice touch that I hadn't seen before:
The first half of the season looks pretty good:
But... the second half:
He ended up with 48 goals in 51 games, the lowest total for many years.
Anyway, that takes him to 677 goals for Celtic in 12 seasons:
On it's own, I could have written this season off and looked to get back on track next year. However, there have to be serious question marks about a) whether he can stay fit enough to keep playing long enough to make it to 1000; and b) whether he can even get back to his previous level of ability. I'm not in a positive frame of mind at the moment I'm afraid.
A decent season, but for a change we didn't win everything, faltering at the last stage of the Champions League:
We won the league again, easily, going 34-2-2 with 110 goals for and 11 against.
We won the Scottish Cup Final 3-0 over Hearts and the Betfred Cup Final 6-0 over St Johnstone. We won the Euro Super Cup on penalties over Athletico Bilbao, although we somehow managed to have 30 shots to 1 without actually scoring in normal time. We also won the Club World Championship with a 3-0 win over Sporting Lisbon.
In the Champions League, we beat Chelsea 2-0 over two legs, then Juventus 2-2 on away goals, then Tottenham 5-1. But in the game that mattered, Armstrong got injured and the team fell apart, surrendering to Barcelona 3-1.
Last year I wrote "those days are done it seems" about Armstrong winning the World Player of the Year award. It seems I was wrong! I guess that hat-trick in last year's Champions League Final was noticed. The runner up was also a Celtic player (Jay Tanner), which was a nice bonus.
He of course won the Scottish Premiership Player of the Year award again, despite his injury woes, and I was Manager of the year again:
Things are looking difficult for Armstrong. 323 goals remaining and his 31 year old body already struggling. He's going to go down in the history books as Celtic's finest ever player, but reaching 1000 goals looks a step too far. Or is it? We'll be back next season to continue the journey.
And I don't normally do this, but given the circumstances, I'll give you a couple of small spoilers from the first few weeks of next season:
See you in a year's time.