Celtic Diary Monday January 14: Smell Their Fear
Halfway through the transfer window, and we’re going to pause to see how some observers view the signings already made by champions Celtic and high flying new club “rangers “.
Then we’ll get to the stories flying around about the second half.
Keith Jackson, an esteemed and knowledgable Sottish football pundit, compares and contrasts the acquisitions at Ibrox with those made at Celtic Park;
Celtic are taking a huge gamble on 8 in a row while Rangers have brought in guaranteed goals – Keith Jackson
January is fast becoming a fascinating month for the Glasgow giants argues our chief football writer.
He’s their chief football writer. An astonishing swipe at the abilities of the others at the Record sports desk.
One month ago, in these very pages, some far-seeing visionary suggested in these very pages that what Brendan Rogers really required to pluck from this transfer window was a tried-and-tested scorer of goals. No more works in progress or long-term projects, Celtic’s manager needed to rail against the club’s strategic policies by demanding they pay top dollar for the finished article. Someone like Jermain Defoe.
I’m guessing this far seeing visionary was Jackson.
So he thought Rodgers should sign Defoe, and because Gerrard has signed him, that sort of elevates Jackson into some sort of specialist advisor.
“Top dollar for the finished article ”
They haven’t paid top dollar, they’ve borrowed him as his parent club cannot find a place in the team for him ahead of their number one strikeforce, whose names escape me for the moment.
But he’s right about him being a finished article, otherwise his parent club wouldn’t have let him go, or they would have sold him to the highest bidder.
There weren’t any bidders.
That Defoe is now dusting down his old shooting boots on the other side of Glasgow’s divide is another fascinating plot twist and a feather in the cap of a Rangers board which has not always appeared to be pulling in the same direction but which has now united fully behind manager Steven Gerrard.
Of all the many good things Gerrard has done for this club in a short space of time, most significantly of all, he has provided Rangers with a genuine sense of purpose and direction.
And this has manifested itself in Dave King and his regime throwing the kitchen sink at the second half of the campaign in the belief they might never have a better chance of stopping Celtic’s trophy sweep in its tracks.
Dave King perhaps should be throwing his weight behind the court order to place money into an account to comply with the Takeover Panel ruling, which to my mind would show a lot more commitment to his club than finding someone on the books of Gerrards agent who fancies a game of football.
If Defoe would have been a smart signing for Celtic then it stands to reason that the 36-year-old ought to be a brilliant bit of business for Gerrard. Even if his best days may be behind him, the Englishman is a proven predator and those old habits tend to die hard.
On the face of it, Rangers have won a watch with this signing even if there is no way of knowing for sure that his legs and lungs will still be up to the job,
So, its a great signing even though it cannot be established that he’s even physically up to an hour and a half of football every week.
Which you would have thought would be the first thing you’d check, especially given that there are several examples of great names from England falling on their arses when they retired to Scotland.
Roy Keane was crowded out on his Celtic debut at Clyde, and never recovered, his old frame simply not up to it any more.
More recently, Joey Barton complained that no one in Scotland was as good as he was, which meant he couldn;t adapt, and Nico Krancjar was another who came, who saw, and who declared he would conquer, before realising he couldn’t.
Still, Defoe is a safe bet ? Not safe enough for any other team who need a proven goalscorer, but we’re lead to believe that he chose “rangers ” ahead of a multitude of suitors.
Defoe actually claimed that he’d turned down Crystal Palace to team up with Stevie Staunch, but Roy Hodgson, the Palace manager said he wasn’t and isn’t interested in him.
Calum Wilson is the top scorer at Bournemouth, with 8 in the league, where bournemouth have a goal difference of -1. Yet they leave this tried and test goal scoring sensation not only out of the team, but out of the country.
In actual fact, the signings of three new forwards by Rodgers to compliment an already impressive front line has terrified the laptop loyal.
Weah, Burke and Bayo are young, hungry, fast and extremely talented. They join Sinclair, Forrest, Griffiths Edouard, Johnston and Rogic which will increase the sales of toilet paper at ibrox just by reading those names.
Except in Jacksons mind, of course, which has put the shutters up to block the reality of the outside world.
then Celtic’s manager must be convinced that in Timothy Weah, Vakoun Issouf Bayo and Oliver Burke he has brought in all the additional firepower he needs in order to blast the challengers to smithereens.
That’s a huge leap of faith given the lack of experience and game time this three have under the belts. At 18, for example, Weah has played just two top flight matches for Paris St Germain. His bloodline suggests he has a chance to go far in the game and the fact that he has already made it from America to PSG, indicates he has talent to go with the name on the back of his shirt.
But is there any way of knowing for sure that he is ready to be plunged into Scottish football’s deep end?
Paris St Germain have Neymar, Mbappe and Cavani keeping him out of the team.
Yet he’s still played a couple of times, at the age of 18.
But there are doubts over his ability to cut it in Scotland ?
Well, we are assured his legs and lungs are in better shape than Defoes, and Neymar, a little shit but there isn;t a team in the world who wouldn’t want him in their colours, probably knows him a little better than most..
“It is a very exciting move for him from what I have seen of his talent he has everything to go and be one of the top attacking players in Europe.
“It is a good move for him, a good move for Celtic as they are getting such a big talent, and also a good move for PSG because he has a chance to get experience and games and come back to us a more complete player.
“He did have options – but he chose the right one. Celtic are a big club, in their league they attack a lot and score a lot of goals, and also they are still in Europe – so they offer him much.”
“He has talent – we know that but also he has a great attitude.
“From the first day I met him he has wanted to learn off the players who have already won the major trophies, from the players who have already achieved big things in the game.
“He is a fun guy to be around – but also he is very humble and that is what you want to see from a young player.
Our man in Dubai reckons he showed enough during the training camp to back up Neymars opinion.
And then some.
Jackson also casts doubts on Bayo, and adds that
his own manager admitted the striker still needs to sharpen up his close control.
Lubomir Moravcik,one of the finest footballers to ever wear a Celtic shirt, said;
“I think he is ready to play well in Scotland. He has a lot of good qualities – he is 6ft tall, can cope with the physical side of the game, is a very good header of the ball, is quick enough and technically is excellent. It is a good idea for Celtic to target him.”
And Oliver Burke ? Jackson was somewhat dismissive..
And then there’s Burke who has made just 18 appearances in 18 months at West Brom amid concerns that his career has been stalled by a suspect attitude and a questionable approach
Burke should grab hold of this opportunity with all of his might and, if he does channel all of his raw power and ferocious pace properly, then Celtic may make a player of him all over again.
But, again, there’s a lot of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ in there when this does not feel like an appropriate time for imponderables.
I think his lungs are fine, Keith. And he’s bloody quick.
Kenny Dalglish, another who could put in a reasonable claim to be the finest player ever to wear the hoops , said;
“In the case of Burke, Celtic have signed a player with enormous potential, who offers flexibility in the forward areas of the pitch, whether he is wide right, coming in off the left or straight through the middle.”
“Watching his interviews on the telly from Celtic’s winter training camp in Dubai, Oliver clearly appears to be happy at joining my former club, and the chance to work under Brendan Rodgers has appealed to him,”
But Jackson, the chief football writer at a glasgow based PR outlet, reckons..
If anything, Rangers have gone for relatively safe bets by splashing out on Defoe and also Steven Davis, who is probably the personification of a tried-and-tested transfer policy.