It’s been a busy summer of wheeling and dealing at Celtic Park. Eight new players have arrived and an astonishing twenty one have departed, albeit nine of them are youngsters on loan. See attached table:
Some underachieving attackers formally away, many youngsters out for much needed regular first team action elsewhere, a cut in the inflated squad size and an overall profit of £6-7m in the transfer market. What’s not to like?
When presented like that Pistol Pete can proudly puff out his chest and prepare to count next years English PremierLeague sized chief executive bonus. Then when you delve into the detail a bit deeper there are many concerns to consider…
There’s no denying Celtic’s squad has been far too large in recent years with a focus on quantity rather than quality in many areas. Balde, Pukki, Scepovic, and Boerrigter. All four vastly underachieved at Celtic with three now thankfully away (one on loan) and the other looking for a compensation package before we can rip up his contract. While it’s great to see deadwood depart serious questions have to be asked of the clubs custodians on why they spent in the region of £8m on these players and will be lucky to return 20% of that should we get a fee next year for Scepovic.
With every penny being a prisoner at Celtic Park it’s quite astonishing, bordering on sacking all those involved, that we should see such wastage. EIGHT MILLION BLOODY POUNDS. Just let that sink in after you add their combined wages which would at an educated guess be in the scale of £40-50,000 per week or £2-2.5m per year. Clearly those scouts who are looking overseas for attacking options are not fit for purpose and other scouts who have a proven track record in working with the European or global player market should be brought in. Do we even have a South American scouting network to tap into the considerable talent there who are available and in most cases have European passports?
Ach, that was a rhetorical question…
Buy the best of good young Scottish players?
I’m a big fan of this and I do applaud those at the club for this strategy. Griffiths, Armstrong, Mackay-Steven, Allan and Christie have all joined the club in the last 18 months and already you can see many positives. Scottish youngsters find it easier to adapt for a number of basic old common sense reasons. They know the football having played it, they know the climate having lived it and they are surrounded by family and friends. They also don’t get itchy feet as often as others who use the club nowadays as a stepping stone due to the significant differential in wages compared to the Larsson, Sutton and Hartson era and have no emotional attachment here.
The five players listed above are all talented and cost us a total of around £3.5m. Value for money is already very high with the added bonus that they have major scope for improvement. What’s not to like?
Sell our best players every summer
There’s a heart and a head element here from me. The heart says keep all our best players and build a team that can compete in the Champions League.
Forster, Van Dijk, Ki, Ledley, Wanyama and Hooper – crikey I feel like crying now – are all first class players and if we somehow managed to retain them there’s no doubt whatsoever we are in the Champions League every season – quite probably pushing for the last 16!
The harsh reality (stupid head talking now), this goes back to my earlier point, is these young players have came to Glasgow and seen it as a stepping stone to the riches of the English PremierLeague. We benefit by getting their services for 2-3 seasons before making a handsome profit of almost £40m on the six players mentioned. They benefit by getting European experience, winning trophies and then earning £30-50k per week and a significant signing on fee with their new clubs.
It hurts but right now it’s a reality of our situation.
Can those running the club do better?
Of course they can. It would be childish not to applaud the major profits made on the players and the focus on the best Scotland has to offer. Where my concerns lie is with the last minute panic to buy players AFTER the Champions League qualifiers when they should be bedded in well before. With the club correctly saying we do not have the riches to compete with Europe’s top leagues it’s criminal (not in a Green and Whyte sense – Ed!) how an amateurish effort is so often made in preparation to win a cash cow of £25-30m. Using good old parliamo Glasgow….it disny make any sense!
Yes, it’s crap that arguably our biggest games of the season are before many European leagues even commence but this is where we are right now and there’s no excuses for not being prepared. We needed a good striker and good left back in before the qualifiers and the board / Ronny didn’t deliver. They must do far better.
I then reference back to the player movement table at the top of this article and it concerns me greatly.
We have not signed one good experienced player to supplement a very young developing squad something that Ronny Deila was crying out for just last week.
Deila “Scott Brown is a fantastic leader but we need more than him, we can’t depend on one. We need more players who take responsibility but that will come through experience. It’s a policy within the club to bring in players we can develop and be worth more afterwards. But we have to find a balance between experience and youth. Look at (Markus) Rosenberg – he is from Malmo. He wanted home. He would never go to Malmo if he wasn’t from there. So it’s about players from Celtic getting back and wanting to play for Celtic. We have to look for experience and combine it with young talent. We can bring in players with experience but we don’t spend a lot of fees on that because you don’t get your money back. It’s ‘dead’ money effectively.”
The transfer window has now closed until January and we have not signed good experienced players because it’s “dead money” according to our manager. This is where the board are really letting down Ronny Deila and the Celtic support by their lack of pragmatism in bringing a balance to the team by cutting their nose off to spite their face as it’s impacting our ability to qualify for the Champions League.
With Lustig injured we probably now have a backline of Janko, Simonic, Bouyata and Blackett. The four have never played together, never trained together, speak four different languages, have hardly played any games and are all kids in football terms.
All this before we play our next match away to Aberdeen. A team who improved significantly last season and have won all their league games so far this campaign and just before an away tie to Ajax in the Europa League. I don’t call that good planning – I call that appalling preparation.
Yes, I’m concerned.
The irony in all of this is the Celtic boards ‘low risk’ approach is actually a ‘high risk’ one and needs to be re-assessed and changed in time for January and in time for next years European campaign or else they are failing their KPI for the majority of the fans….backing the manager and putting as good a Celtic team as possible on the pitch.