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Celtic Diary Wednesday September 2: Oh No ! Scepovic Is Away !

It was panic stations and cries of Doomsday last night when it became apparent that Celtic were not going to sign a striker to replace Stefan Scepovic, who had decided that he didn’t want to be at celtic shortly after his plane landed in Glasgow some months ago.

Ronny Deila has decided that three strikers, the on fire Griffiths, the yet to be tested Ciftci and the reliable Anthony Stokes will be enough to see us through until January. Want to know something else ? The striker we were after, who has a Scottish pedigree and has performed on the biggest stages world wide, didn’t come up to Ronny’s high standards.

Having spent around £8m this window, including big money on a replacement for Virgil van Dijk, in keeping with the key player out key player in policy, Ronny has every right to feel a little bewildered this morning.

The squad does have cover, pretty much of international standard, for every position on the pitch, with even an England U-21 in place for Izzy, or a promising youngster if that doesn’t work out.

Although he had said he would keep the first team down to twenty or twenty one players, there are a couple more than that. And when you consider those like  Scepovic,  Fisher, O’Connell and Henderson are out  on loan, there is even more depth if needed. No doubt there is a recall clause if it is needed.

Another who finally left, and it appears Celtic tried everything to keep him, was van Dijk. Maybe thats why we waited until there was no way he would stay before bringing in Jozo Simunovic.

Van dijk spoke of his move, taking the well trodden path to obscurity in the bloated EPL.

“It was a very easy decision to join Southampton. 

“I’m delighted. This is a very ambitious club who have been doing very well in the last couple of years. 

“It’s a great place to be and it’s the right step for me. To get the opportunity to play in the Premier League is unbelievable and I will enjoy it. 

“Celtic did not want me to leave and wanted to extend my contract. The club did everything to keep me and I appreciate that, but I felt the time was right for a new challenge in the English Premier League. I thank everyone at Celtic, the manager and all the staff.

“Celtic is a brilliant football club. It will always be in my heart and I will always be a Celtic supporter myself.” 

Oh, fuck off. Why not just say ;

You wouldn’t believe how much these idiots are paying me. Look, it’s great at Celtic, and you are all great people, but you should see how much they’re paying me. You’d do the same. 

I’d have a little more respect for him then.

Especially when you recall what he said when he joined Celtic;

“It feels very good and I’m very excited to be here,” 

“Celtic is the biggest club in Scotland and they also play in the Champions League,” 

“They’re a fantastic club and when Celtic came in for me I was so excited. Everything here is good so I can’t wait to get started. 

Standard statement from a professional footballer. Both times. Good luck to him, but if that sort of money was on offer, even the greenest tinted spectacle wearer would think twice.

And don’t kid yourself otherwise.

Ryan Christie, another one of Deila’s Development Division, was a little more honest about his move to Celtic;

01/09/15     .  CELTIC PARK - GLASGOW  .  Delight for Ryan Christie as he is unveiled as Celtic's newest signing.. (37232037)

Hang on, so that’s where Gary Mackay Steven’s grin went…..

My dad spoke to me about his experience here, He said he enjoyed it although he found it hard to break in. He told me that I might find it the same when I move down, but it’s about being mentally strong and keeping going. When I get my chance, I have to take it. 

“I think he enjoyed his time down in Glasgow. A lot of people say he was homesick but from what I heard he really enjoyed it down here. It’s just that playing first-team football was more important.

“It maybe gives me an extra incentive to make the breakthrough here – and to get one over on him! I’m sure he’s proud but he won’t tell me that. I’m sure he is. He’s probably my harshest critic. He’s coached me from a young age so I don’t think he’s been too keen to give me much positive news but surely to Christ I get some praise now!”  

Charlie Christie, Ryan’s dad, was on Celtic’s books years ago, and was instrumental in the good years the club had under Martin O’Neill. He was the man who pulled the strings when Inverness beat Celtic to end the managerial career of John Barnes, and for that we must be forever grateful. No greater love hath a man for his club…..

Now, compare what he said, similar to Scott Allen , Gary Mackay Steven and Stuart Armstrong when they joined, to the nonsense from the “professionals “

“There were rumours of a few other clubs,” he admitted. “But when you hear a team like Celtic have come in, that’s it. They are an incredible team with an incredible fan base. Just to be able to say I’ve played for Celtic in part of my career will be a huge thing.

“I’ve been a fan all my life, just through my dad. As a kid I had Celtic posters on my wall, Henrik Larsson was my favourite, of course. I’ve came down for games, mainly cup finals and the European nights. The last one was the Barcelona game in 2012. That was an incredible night.” 

Billy McNeill always used to say that he prefereed either Celtic minded players or those who could become Celtic minded.

So do I.

The other new man in yesterday was Dinamo Zagrebs Jozo Simunovic. He’s strong, quick , good in the air and has a unique talent in that he can  control the ball using only the electrical pulses eminating from his cerebral cortex.

 

and there’s something else, he won’t be fazed by the Glasgow weather. In fact, he may well positively relish it.

That picture was taken during a Summer Cup match back in Zagreb.

And here he is on the Argyll Ferry, just this morning as he looks for a new house in Dunoon.

Seems legit.

Capped at every level, bar senior, from U14 on, he can’t be that bad. And we don’t usually do too bad with defenders and midfielders when we get them in early.

What we have now is Ronny Deila’s Celtic. He has chosen the players he thinks can fit into his system, following a model he said he would when he arrived.

 There is youth, pace, skill and experience in the squad.

Those we thought would go have gone.

He has resisted the pressure to bring in overpaid and over the hill loannees.

When the fuss dies down, and the panic subsides, we will see that the manager has now got in place everything he said he would have.

From today, there can be no excuses.

A lot of people-or should that be peepil-want to see him fail. He’s been strong enough to get this far.

Time to go that final mile.

Let’s have no more of this shite about failing to invest, and not buying proven quality. No more banners, shamefully mocking the team before a ball is kicked.

The truth is, Ronny is a coach who makes players, not a manager who just takes players.

The closest i can compare him to in recent years is Brian Clough.

Clough was uncomfortable around established stars, but worked miracles with those who were either on the way up or on the way down. Ronny has dispensed with the latter, and is working with the former.

Within this squad there is massive potential. There is now no player who is a stick on to leave, and we haven’t been able to say that for a long time.

Everyone seems content with life at Celtic

At Celtic , he will be aided by Scott Brown, who works with the reserves and kids on his days off. Kris Commons and Charlie Mulgrew are also on hand to help with helping adjust to life at Celtic, and if you really want to know why Anthony Stokes was kept on, well, who else was going to lead the rebel sing songs ?

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Daviebhoy
8 years ago

Well done Ralph, say it like it is. From today its Ronnies team and he will stand or fall on his decisions, it is now up to each and everyone of us to give our support to the manager, the team and the board. We are one of the best run football clubs who continue to prosper even though both Sky and UEFA try to make it impossible for us to succeed. HH Comon the Hoops

Devoy45
8 years ago

Stokesie is singing:
“In Mountjoy jail one Monday morning
High upon the gallows tree…”

The transfer window has shut. Good. I was surprised we couldn’t land a striker but better not to waste money on a: Balde/Scepovich/Michu/Lassad/Pukki/Boericchte and god knows how many more whose names I can’t remember. An injury to Griffiths can land us in the shite though. Stokes can score goals for us. Ciftci will also come good. Mackay-Steven, Commons and Forrest can all play up front. In our system, four players are supposed to score goals anyway.
I think we are sorted at goals and midfield, for some years to come.
I’m glad we didn’t go for Fletcher.
See wee Feruz is at Hibs.
Let’s just get on with it.

Monti
8 years ago
Reply to  Devoy45

Rasmussen, Fridjonsson.

Bobby Petta's Statue
8 years ago
Reply to  Devoy45

Bangura. jeez. Bangura.

Bangura, Boerrigter, Sheidt or Blinker? Which was the worst buy in the modern era? And why do they all start with B? Except Sheidt. But he’s Sheidt

Monti
8 years ago

Boerrigter!

Bobby Petta's Statue
8 years ago
Reply to  Monti

I would agree, Monti. He’s disgraced my favourite shirt number.

jebus
8 years ago

Ralph i have to disagree, the banner was spot on and had to be said to remind the players and board what is actually required. Shame the board have ignored it and left us considerably weaker at the end of the window than when we started. If griffiths is injured those 2 other diddys wont score 10 league goals between them. Griffiths aside that is a shambolic forward line for a club like ours.

Monti
8 years ago
Reply to  jebus

Jebus,
I agree with your concern over the striking department.
To allow Scepovic to go without bringing someone in is asking for trouble.
I think Scepovic isn’t good enough but at least he was a striking option.
Hopefully the manager and Scouts are looking at a striker for the January window.
Also, am I correct in saying that free transfers can be signed outside the transfer window?
If so let’s have a look and take a gamble….

Charlie Saiz
8 years ago
Reply to  Monti

Scepovic is on Loan he could be brought back if need be?
Hopefully by that time he would have had a few games under his belt and started scoring.

8 years ago
Reply to  Charlie Saiz

That would be a hell of a need, Charlie. 🙂 If worse came to worse, I wouldn’t mind seeing Allan up front. He showed more direct to goal attacking passion in his few minutes on the pitch than the rest of our squad bar Griffiths …

Monti
8 years ago

I disagree on the bit where you said that bigger money elsewhere would turn anyone’s head…..not in this case Ralph, if was lucky enough to be good enough, to play for Celtic….I would have put Celtic before money!

Charlie Saiz
8 years ago
Reply to  Monti

When I was a 16 year old playing fitba for fun I always dreamed if Celtic came calling I would happily sign for life on £250 a week.
Joiners were getting that then in Germany it seemed a fair wage to me…
I would imagine a great many others would have too given the chance possibly for even less?
Unfortunately my skill level was such I ended up playing fitba on my dinner break on Building sites around the land on £400 a week!
One day a certain Mr McClusky(Pat) was playing on the same bumpy patch of field in Oxford long since retired he was pinging 40 yard passes to feet!
It was then I realised just how good these guys actually were he was wearing work boots ffs!
Point is I doubt very much young Christie thought too much about the wages on offer yesterday.
Sure he will be on a decent skin but then so are some Joiners and like yer man Virgil they will travel around seeking the best wage in the best working conditions.
Such is life.

Doc
8 years ago
Reply to  Monti

If you don’t mind not getting a living wage then Mr Lawwell will be happy to employ you

TonyB
8 years ago

Well said Ralph. You should have a word with some of the navel gazing surrender monkeys over on CQN.

Prawn sandwich eating fuds the majority of them.

Admin
8 years ago
Reply to  TonyB

Crayfish darling!

Charlie Saiz
8 years ago

I too think the final pieces are being clicked in though I do suspect one more or probably the single most important piece has yet to be found and placed in.
A striker of finished article type quality.
The web was awash with downhearted Tims last night some ragin at the fact one wasn’t paraded alongside Paul The Tim at 1 minute past twelvety?
I was glad in a way because it meant in that most critical of positions we had evidently hit a few brick walls.
The money is there I reckon around £5m possibly more but the thing is the right man obviously wasn’t.
I would rather we wait till Jan till he is or even next Summer to get the right man secured.
Griffiths is scoring goals,Ciftci has proven to score goals at United and Stokes can and has scored some valuable ones too at Celtic.
Just look at the shit we have brought in the last 5 years searching for last minute deals christ it’s a litany of shite for the most part.
Get that last piece fitting right and we will have a very dangerous side.
The defence is where our issues lay this Season not the attack we needed a CB we got 2 one of whom is also a LB so in Virgil departing we have addressed 2 key areas where most believe myself included our problems lay in that respect.
We still have experienced men who can play at CB.
Mulgrew Ambrose and Lustig can slot in there as these guys settle and bed in.
We have a top drawer Keeper behind them still and decent backup in Bailly.
Midfield is solid we have options and players who can be moved around within it all of whom are talented players.
I’m happy with the window Virgil was bought with the intention of selling on let’s not kid ourselves same will probably happen with the new kid Jozo hence the 5 year deal.
This is the business model we have chosen and at £13m plus a percentage of any future sale Virgils deal is our best EVER.
Good luck to him.

Monti
8 years ago
Reply to  Charlie Saiz

Charlie Saiz,
Hi Charlie, I do like the look of the squad Deila is puting together but we still lack a proven goalscorer, Griffiths will get you goals domestically but I’m not convinced he can lead Celtic in the European games.
I would have liked to have seen Izaguirre and Ambrose leave in this window.
The squad is over loaded in certain areas.

Charlie Saiz
8 years ago
Reply to  Monti

Hi Monti I agree with all of that but I think the challenge of Blackett should be enough for Izzy to raise his game.
I hope so anyway.
Injuries can hellish problems and we are heavy on the midfield area.
However as Midfield is so crucial to the System we now deploy (5 in there at all times)we do need cover as 2 maybe 3 injuries to key men could spell disaster for us.
We also need to rotate in there keep it fresh,keep the pace up,the pressing and to be expecting 4 maybe 5 to be doing that game after game would be expecting too much.
I think Christie and Allan are there to replace Commons when he finally slows up.
ie a bit of guile in there that’s got a bit more pace and energy than Kris.
He’s not getting any quicker let’s face it.

Monti
8 years ago
Reply to  Charlie Saiz

True!

Des Da Moaner
8 years ago

who’s this reliable stokes? only reliable thing is his corners are going out the other side. pretty sure delia is on record too saying he doesnt see him as a striker.

Charlie Saiz
8 years ago
Reply to  Des Da Moaner

Stokes can still do a job on the left side of the attack when asked to do so.
Go watch the Cup Final again and look at the delivery he gave Hooper on both his goals.
I’ve yet to see any of the current squad deliver balls from that side so effectively since?
Izzy,Armstrong and GM-S included.
He also linked up well with Izzy last Season out there.

Monti
8 years ago
Reply to  Des Da Moaner

Des,
Stokes has been a decent servant to the club, it now looks like he might get more of a chance now so we have to support him until we bring in someone better.
The window is shut, it’s time to back the team HH!

Míceál
8 years ago

Disappointed with Ronny’s performance in Malmo, including his team selection and tactics, but agree he has potential.
Europa games will answer a lot of questions. If we can’t perform there , we’re wasting our time in CL.
Comparing him to Clough may be a wee bit premature – that guy won 2 European Cups !

Des Da Moaner
8 years ago

sorry guys, haven’t seen this from Stokes for too long now. Just seems to me like a guy with loads of natural abilty who makes the wrong choices too often, and thats just on the park.

CarlJungleBhoy
8 years ago

Good read Ralph! Nice change to hear an alternative view (naw Matt – you don’t have copyright 🙂 from all the doom & gloom out there.

It’s easy to blame the board for not splashing the cash on a striker but – let’s be realistic here – there’s not exactly a long queue of top notch striking talent queuing up to sign for us, at the level of wages we’re willing to offer, especially now that we no longer have the enticement of CL football to dangle before them.

Sure you could blame the board for that, but finding a top notch striker is always a bit of a gamble – as the likes of Scepovic & Pukki have proven – and – chances are – even if we’d forked out, let’s say 5M, there’s absolutely no guarantee it would prove to be any better a buy than the list of flops we’ve been used to in recent years.

Yeah, the jury’s still out on Ciftci, but I for one won’t be calling for his head unless/until he’s had a decent run of league games under his belt.

charlie
8 years ago

young liegh is going to need a suit of armour its a cert a few zombies will be out to show him a bit of ba and man hope he keeps the heid

Admin
8 years ago

Stokes…no chance…hes well out the picture, I Watch him at warm up at half time, hes like a guy at 5-a-sides.

Although given Commons current form there might be hope yet.

Ciftci is the big question mark. At the moment he looks like a poor mans Andy Payton and is nowor here near fit or aware enough of whats needed. Time to step up HannibalBhoy.

The sad thing for me, no-one to challenge or compliment the tenacity of Broony. We need voices and leaders, not kids kids kids. Broony will get injured and suspended and fan-dancer Johansen is not the guy for that position or that leadership.

Monti
8 years ago
Reply to  Desi Mond

He’s no Wayne Biggins….

Gerry
8 years ago

I agree with Desi, while we have players who can cover should be get injuries, the two important players for me are Bitton and Brown; when these two don’t play Celtic don’t play. Bitton is calm on the ball and reads the game well, Brown snaps and snarls and has great speed and physical strength while being a great captain on the park. Mulgrew / Johansen / Armstrong can all play there, but none of them are anywhere near as effective.
Bitton would also fit the bill as the next project we earn some cash for in January/Summer should he impress in the Europa. Definitely a striker, but some quality cover for those two holding roles, and FFS some other players who can open their gobs during a game.
Agree above, time for the fans to get behind the team (again) with good attendance at games, and good support from those who attend. Moan at the pub!!

patrickqu
8 years ago

BBC news has just told the whole of Britain that “Glasgow Rangers”, as was, had to be reconstructured to enter the 4th tier! A new word for LIQUIDATION!

stu67
8 years ago

I feel a wee bit better after reading your column Ralph ,
– but I am very concerned that we have a back line of Janko, Boyata, Simunovich & possibly Blackley – having a handfull of first team games between them , going into a European campaign ,and first up a game against the sheep little experience and never having played together !
I think Nesbitt may be getting Fastracked into the first team squad!

Time will tell

stu67
8 years ago

Blackett

Paul Mac
8 years ago

Who is in the development squad ? Forward I mean ? any chance that Ronny could look to blood any of the youngsters from there ? Isn´t that the point of the development squad ?

Funkyy
8 years ago

It’s nice to see that the Post Traumatic Stress symptoms have decreased to such a level that optimism has started to creep back in!!1!
Most of us share the one concern…the striking department. I still believe Ciftci will come good…we’re about to find out for sure now his suspension is over.
It’s easy to pick out one game as an example where Stokes played well…but in too many games we started a fast, penetrating move that ended when the ball reached him…he either fluffed his shot, over-hit his pass, passed it into a space where nobody was or gave the ball away. It happened so often you almost knew when the move started how it was gonna end….fekking frustrating to put it mildly.
As I said in a previous post, the protests (Green Brigade) have been made and duly noted, and nobody on the playing field can be in any doubt that a repeat of the Malmo non-performance will not be accepted. Now we begin the journey to the Champions League 2016-2017 where we belong. HH

Stevie
8 years ago

Twitter was in meltdown last night because a striker hadn’t been signed. Fletcher & Michu aside, who could Celtic have went for? I’m struggling to come up with any names from the top of my head.
One defender away, two in. Sounds ok to me.
Re the GB banner on Saturday, I think it was ill advised. Always back the team. Faithful through and through!!

Devoy45
8 years ago

We start with Aberdeen after the break: not best to blood our new signings in that big match, so:
Gordon
Lustig/Boyata/Mulgrew/Izzy
Brown/Bitton
Forrest/Johansen/Commons
Griffiths

subs: Bailly/Ambrose/Janko/Commons/Ciftci/Armstrong//Mackay-Steven.
We need to introduce Blackett/Simunovic/Allan gradually. It will be important to keep our new signings interested.
I also just remembered that the Europa League is a league and that away goals aren’t as important as in the qualifiers. This will let us play a bit differently both home and away, maybe more attacking?
Once Europa League starts we can start going with lots of subs and changes, bringing in our latest signings.
I believe in Griffiths, Stokes and Ciftci, who will come good in the league and with better. match fitness. Stokes needs more matches, out left in the midfield three. He and Griffiths link up really well. But our next signing

Gerry
8 years ago
Reply to  Devoy45

What’s the story with Lustig and his injury, do we hope to get him back after the international break?

Devoy45
8 years ago

continue: “But our next signing…” had better be a proven goalscorer. For me, Adam Rooney would work ok. We can’t risk any more exotic duds.

Charlie Saiz
8 years ago

Ciftci was scoring goals regularly at United I have no worries he won’t do the same at Celtic.
Great touch,strong and can hold it up well.
Needed time to settle get the ban out the way he should be good to go now.

BondiBrian
8 years ago

I’m not impressed with Stoke off the park antics, get pelters no doubt but to me he’s just a catholic orangeman, mibbie belt oot a rebel song, bet he know very little about James Connolly. Anywey, that’s ma opinion.

Pelter alert: Incoming………

Funkyy
8 years ago

Funniest videos for a long time seeing the huns baying for blood as agents Green, Whyte and Whitehouse are huckled out of the court building. This is the same mob that was fed and lapped up the shite from the Dreary Reeker and TV and Radio pundits about their club’s rebirth in the hands of wealth off the radar millionaire’s and other rogues, spivs and con men. And you could hear men and women screaming “We are the Peepul, we are the Peepul”…it actually makes me cringe to hear them, poor wee deluded lemmings heading for the cliff edge……again.

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