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Celtic Diary Sunday May 22: We’re On The Road To Somewhere

The Scottish season came to an official end yesterday, with the showcase cup final.


Plucky newcomers “rangers ” lifted the Scottish Cup, beating Hearts after extra time.


That should cheer them up.




Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Ange Postecoglou and the crew are working on that difficult second season.



Securing the permanent transfers of Cameron Carter Vickers, Jota and Daezen Maeda are his first priority.


Indications are that all three will stay.


That’s a fair chunk ..around £12-15m ….of the transfer budget already spent.


So if the next window does turn out to be underwhelming then there’s the reason.



It’s a bit of a reality check that Celtic will have to spend so much just to maintain the squad, rather than improve it, and we can only hope that the board genuinely have changed their somewhat prudent approach to team matters.


However, as with all negotiations, when you’re dealing from a position of strength, you tend to get what you want.


Ange is in that position, and with Champions League money on the way, he should be able to go shopping again this summer, although he will probably have to have one eye on his allowance.



A few players have been mentioned as possible targets, and whilst we cannot reallistically expect any marquee signings, let’s be honest, the players he has brought in are no slouches, and although we might not have heard of them, in the market where he shops they are quite well known.


We’ve been lucky so far in that nearly all of them have slotted in seamlessly.


That’s down largely to knowing the players as opposed to simply looking through data and statistics. It’s an old fashioned way of doing things, but it means that we know what we’re getting.


The manager has a fairly good idea of whether or not a player will fit in, and whether or not he’ll adjust to his new surroundings.


That improves the odds of him getting what he asks for when he approaches the board.



If he does manage to keep this team together, he’ll be sitting on assets worth considerably more than what he paid for them, which will no doubt please those who look after the business side of things, although be prepared for the sound of wailing from the bean counters when the club takes a hit on the likes of Barkas, Ajeti, Jullien and Bolingoli.


In fact, if we had a lesser manager than Ange, there might even have been pressure to sell a key player to make up the shortfall.


And it doesn’t bear thinking about what might have happened if the Championship hadn’t found it’s way back home, and thus avoiding those often painful qualifiers.


When we look back, the first title may well turn out to be the pivitol one, as it gives that little bit of breathing space to continue rebuilding.


The recruitment of Mark Lawwell may have been seen as a step back to the old days under another Lawwell, but Celtic wouldn’t have brought him in to do nothing.


The policy of buying low and selling high is probably still his priority, and we may still see a few out of contract English youngsters make their way north, in the hop that one or two will raise the sort of fee that Moussa Dembele brought in, and that makes sense.


But Ange isn’t here for corporate success, he’s here to bring glory on the field.


At the moment, he may well have the type of players in that will reward him with loyalty, and perform at the highest level, and it seems his plan is to add more of the same.


The first title is in the bag, and with the Scottish champions guaranteed a group place at the end of next season as well, what was largely seen as a bonus this year will be the priority next year.


A failure to win a second title will mean a rethink of policy from the ground up.



Is it something to worry about ?


Not really.


Ange Postecoglou has a reputation for taking a year or two to adjust to his new surroundings.


With Celtic, it didn’t take as long, maybe a few uncertain weeks early in the season, but after the winter window, having noticed that he was putting in quite a few youth players to fill in the gaps, he made his move.


After the winter break, Celtic kicked into gear…it was almost as though the manager was already in is second season, and two wins over “rangers ” in quick succession more or less won the league.


The focus after Christmas cannot be downplayed, and things began to come together.


The confidence ran through the team, and older fans will probably agree that there was a hunger in the squad.


It could be that most of them took heart from winning the League Cup, again, the importance of that cannot be ignored.


Whatever the manager wanted them to do had been shown to pay dividends, and from then on there would have been little argument as to his methods, from the training ground right through to match day.


Some players have improved beyond belief, and thats only after a few months.


If we don’t recruit as many as we would like over the next few months, we may have to rely on those already here.


Yes, maybe they aren’t quite whats needed for the UCL, but there’s a chance they may become that.


Perhaps the old board and other managers would have settled for that.


Ange Postecoglou won’t.


My theory , and that’s all it is, a theory, is that he will be around for a while.


He’s not the kind of guy to use Celtic to get to a Watford or a Bournemouth.  Although he is career minded, he will also remember that Celtic gave him this opportunity.


And he certainly seems grateful, as we have seen in countless interviews.



There is a sense that he genuinely is of the”Celtic not my first love but it will be my last ” mind.



By winning the league, and the next one, he has a shot at the champions League.


For a man of his ambition, and the fact he came from the other side of the world , by himself, to take the job underlies that ambition, that’s an incredible challenge.





To win the second title will ensure he has the funds, and the backing of the support, to make a serious attempt at European glory the season after next.



That will be the target, and to do that, he’ll spend the next two windows building a team with that in mind.



Not just buying in ready made players, but also those he thinks he can improve to play the game the way he wants to play it.



By building a team capable of competing in the UCL, he will at the same tine have a team that should sweep the board domestically.



Ange’s second season isn’t about winning on Scotland, it’s about competing and succeeding in Europe.



If he can continue to maintain and improve the standards he has put in place, the sky really is the limit.



There is a camaraderie around the place that hasn’t been there for a long time, a real sense of togetherness.



And there’s something else, and it goes back to something Ronny Deila once said..



He was trying to get the players to play a certain way, a way that was carried on under Brendan Rodgers that worked.


Deila said that once the players had mastered that, he would add other things, different formations and so on that would mean that opponents would not know, quite literally, which Celtic they would be facing.


Not a fundamental change, but certain little adjustments that altered a lot .



For example, imagine if Celtic started a game with two up front, and four across the middle….by the time opponents had realised they had lined up to face a different team, they’d be a couple of goals down, and their need to adjust would cause panic and confusion.



That’s a level up from the pragmatic approach of adding a midfielder to stifle the opposition, but it’s the way managers like Deila and Postecoglou think.


And with both managers having won titles in three different countries, I’d argue they know their stuff.



We’ve a lot to look forward to, and the new season can’t come quick enough for me.



But I’m happy to wait, happy to see what the manager comes up with after he’s had a full pre season with players he chose who have complete faith in his ideas, his methods and most of all, his ambitions.





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1 year ago

Still think we need a 6 , Cal M at 8 gives us a bit of everything which helps when we need to dig in. Would give TR a try there as he is strong and mobile. A. Back up at 1 , a 3 / 5 and a 9 is a minimum to take us to the next level.

1 year ago
Reply to  Oldbhoy

What, what and what?

1 year ago

He’s not afraid to take players on loan with a view to buy, so there’s always that scenario to allow us to stretch the budget, so if we do secure Jota and CCV, Maeda is already signed apparently, then we do have flexibility in bringing in what we need.

1 year ago
Reply to  Navarro

Maedas’ loan contract expires on the 31st of this month with his new pre agreed deal with us starting on the 1st July..

1 year ago

I see the wee w@nk thumbdooner is back……..

On another matter, I see that some news outlets are using the term Scottish Cup‘Champions’ ’ to describe the new club winning its 2nd major trophy. Is it just me or is winners not enough for the butt hurt hun?

Dziekanowski's nightclub child
1 year ago

Defo a box to box midfielder to help cal mac

1 year ago

Maeda signed on an initial 6 month loan with a compulsory buy clause so he definitely is here for next season

Tenaka Khan
1 year ago

A welcome and realistic look at next season. I think it’s possible that Ange might make a habit of going big in January rather than the summer. As you pointed out, £15m is already earmarked but beyond that how many millions will go on paying off Barkas, Ajeti, Bolingoli and anyone else deemed surplus? I’ve a feeling that after a proper pre-season we’ll be seeing a bit more of Welsh, Scales Johnson & McCarthy in domestic games and I don’t think that would be a bad thing.

1 year ago

Celtic need to start addressing the Lennoxtown situation, we need to see real quality young players coming through the ranks.
Do we need to bring in coaches who are more experienced in developing youth?
Sure we have to invest in the first team but it always gives me great pleasure to see young players coming through into the first team.
Let’s get that side of the club performing better!

1 year ago
Reply to  Monti

There are young players coming through, unfortunately when the vultures from the economic super powers flex their monetary muscle, it’s hard to keep a hold of these lads when they’re getting enormous sums of money thrown at them.

1 year ago

Not sure Julien should be cast out just yet. Watched a rerun of League Cup final and although he has improved, Starfelt was all over the place.
Unless he is unhappy then ca canny.

1 year ago
Reply to  SteveNaive

He expressed unhappiness at his lack of playing time and clearly Ange prefers Starfelt & CCV over him.

He’s also on a significant wage so don’t think we want to keep him on as a squad player.

If CCV doesn’t stay then Julien as a direct replacement isn’t an improvement.

Perhaps we really should be getting serious about our ambitions and spending £20m on the new Van Dijk, Calvin Bassey, as reported by the independent experts in the SMSM. 😉

1 year ago
Reply to  The Cha

Had to laugh there! One half decent game against Hearts and allowing Frankfurt to score isn’t really the stuff of legend! Well not for us anyway

1 year ago
Reply to  BroxburnBhoy

We’ve been here before with Morelos and Kent.

He’s the latest one they’re trying to pump to desperately try and balance the books.

You think by now they should have learned that Rangers fanboys in the media pushing puff pieces has no bearing on what serious clubs spend their money on.

1 year ago

The money to permanently sign Jota & CCV (or their replacements) cannot be considered as part of this year’s spending, otherwise we’re never going to improve significantly.

They were/are part of our current team and any spending on them, simply allows us to standstill not progress.

Last year we received far more in transfer income than spending, which has increased substantially due to add-ons due to promotions, non-relegations etc.

Also, last year’s income was largely boosted by fans who paid for full-price STs, merchandising etc despite seeing not 1 game.

This year’s spending should only be for new players, not replacements, that improve the team.

Tenaka Khan
1 year ago
Reply to  The Cha

I disagree completely with your point. £12m to buy them has to come from somewhere. Spurs and Benfica would have received loan fees from last season’s budget so any subsequent outlay is from this season’s budget. They’re now back at their registered clubs and it looks like neither of them has a future there. We know they’re both good enough so it’s time to pay for them. I don’t think we’ll get CCV to be honest, I think some team in England will pay him double what we can. I’d prefer to keep Jota anyway.

1 year ago
Reply to  Tenaka Khan

My point is that these 2 players were part of this year’s team so signing them permanently isn’t improving the team.

The money for signing them, as I’ve said, is available from last season’s transfer income profits and other incomes.

This/next season’s income/profits from UCL Group stage etc should be used for completely new significant additions.

If we don’t do that, we might improve a smidgen but we won’t be making any great leap forward and, I’m not sure, if that lack of ambition will be matched by Ange.

1 year ago

Please can we stop this nonsense trying to rehabilitate Deila, as he was a shite manager, as his underwhelming career since us shows.

Its insulting to Ange, who should be compared to the likes of Wim, O’Neill and Rodgers.

Ronny may have been a nice guy, who knew about fitness & diet, could treat a verruca but he was completely out of his depth as a Celtic manager.

Woof Charlie
1 year ago

What would have happened to Motherwell, St Johnstone, Dundee if they had taped over the cinch logo? We know. This game is rigged.

1 year ago
Reply to  Woof Charlie

If Cinch withhold any prize money due to this then the other clubs should be up in arms about it, as any penalty should only be paid by 1 club but I doubt it will be.

I think we know that our club won’t do anything but hopefully others will.

Woof Charlie
1 year ago
Reply to  The Cha

There’s a story in The Times that if they had won the league cinch would have withheld monies and clubs would have taken a class action against them. But why does coming second change cinch’s position?

1 year ago
Reply to  Woof Charlie

Cinch wouldn’t get to see their logo associated with the Champions, which would be a major issue but they’ve been short-changed by the Huns and the league not doing anything about it.

They should withhold whatever prize money they are due and see whether everyone suffers or just the recalcitrants.

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