A CRYSTAL BALL should be the priority acquistion for every manager about to venture into the transfer market.
Right at the top of the shopping list has to be the fabled astrology orb that allows the more gullible to attempt to take a sneak peek into the future.
Some of the stuff I have heard and read over the past few days about Celtic’s inadequacies during their summer recruitment programme would get drivel a bad name.
Folk who really should know better would be advised to mull over their thinking process before firing into print. Alan Stubbs, of course, is more than entitled to his opinion and is better placed than most to air his observations.
The former Celtic central defender, a quality signing from Bolton by Tommy Burns for a-then club record £4.2million in the summer of 1996, surely knows all about trying to eke the last dime out of the pocket of club directors following his managerial stints at Hibs, Rotherham and St Mirren.
INTO THE LION’S DEN…Brendan Rodgers strides onto the pitch in Rotterdam before kick-off.
Stubbs questions the transfer strategies of his one-time Glasgow employers and insists they should have made “two marquee signings”, especially after the champions announced a £40million profit in their recent annual financial accounts.
Earth to Mr Stubbs: Everyone of a Celtic persuasion would welcome “marquee signings”, but let’s be realistic, please. We are now operating in a market place where clubs are spending £100million on an individual without the blink of an eye.
Chelsea have gone berserk in recent times with so-called “sexy transfers” and are nudging towards a bonkers milestone of £1BILLION spent in little over a year with Todd Boehly at the helm. Over the same period, the London club have outspent the entirety of La Liga.
On January 31 this year, Graham Potter was allowed to splash £106.8million on Benfica midfielder Enzo Fernandez. Eight weeks later, the manager was sacked. Last month, the club topped that with the £115million offer to lure Moises Caicedo, another middle-of-the park operator, from Brighton.
For good measure, the Stamford Bridge outfit parted with £58millon for Southampton’s Romeo Lavia just before the August deadline. Yup, you’ve guessed it, he’s a midfielder. Romeo Who? I confess I had to check. He is 19 years old and has one Belgian cap to his name.
The last I looked Chelsea were 14th in the Premier League with one win in five outings, soaring a whopping five points above rock-bottom Luton Town who have yet to get on board.
So much for “marquee signings”.
IT’S BEHIND YOU…£4.5million keeper Vasilis Barkas has that sinking feeling.
In any case, what sort of purchase could Celtic make that would come into this high-falutin’ category? Fans may have thought some shrewd wheeling and dealing had been done in the double move that brought in Vasilis Barkas and Albian Ajeti in the summer of 2020 as Neil Lennon readied his troops in their quest for the historic tenth successive title.
The Hoops hierarchy sanctioned a total of £9.5million on the two recruits. Remember, also, these transfers were carried out in the midst of the Covid pandemic when cash reserves were certain to be severely affected without match day revenue and suchlike.
Take into consideration, too, the fact the club also refused to rake in transfer cash for the likes of Odsonne Edouard, Kristoffer Ajer and Ryan Christie who appeared to be in a rush to play their football elsewhere, a wish granted a year later for all three.
Alas, Barkas and Ajeti turned out to be a colossal waste of money. A goalkeeper who couldn’t keep the ball out of his net and a striker who couldn’t put the spherical object in the opposition’s rigging did little to inspire the team during admittedly straitened times.
Celtic banked a consolation £500,000 for nine-goal Ajeti and zilch for the dodgy custodian who had the final year of his contract put through the shredder.
DUTCH AND GO…Gustaf Lagerbiekle pleads his case to an unsympathetic Bosnian referee as Callum McGregor attempts to back his inexperienced team-mate.
Back to good, old Stubbsy who informs us Celtic fans are looking for progression on the European stage. Amen to that, my good man.
Brendan Rodgers’ side got off to a faltering start in the 2-0 Champions League loss to Feyenoord in Rotterdam. Empowered with the skills of a Mystic Meg, the Irishman would have, of course, signed at least two more oven-ready centre-backs in the summer market.
But is there any one out there who can put their hands up and say before the injury tsunami they would have predicted Gustaf Lagerbiekle, Liam Scales, Odin Holm, Yang Hyun-gyu, Luis Palma or Paolo Bernardo stepping onto the pitch at De Kuip the other night?
Naturally, they all fall short of the standard required to cope with challenges at this elite level for one very good reason; no-one anticipated the position in which Rodgers found himself as he put his squad jigsaw together and the aforementioned players would be involved at the sharp end so early in their Celtic careers.
Fully-fit, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Maik Nawrocki would have been the central defensive pairing against the Dutch, while an injury-free Liel Abada would have operated on one flank with Daizen Maeda on the other.
The Celtic boss would not have been placed in such an illogical position where he would have been compelled to play a rookie Honduran winger, with precisely one hour of game-time at the club, or an on-loan Portuguese midfielder, with 17 minutes’ worth of first-team experience, in football’s version of The Killing Fields.
It was also clear that Reo Hatate, coming back after injury, didn’t have more than an hour in his legs. Once again, though, it was case of needs must.
I’ll make a quick prediction, if I may?
The individual who is bestowed the gift of clairvoyance will prove to be the most astute manager in the history of world football.
Until this favoured being walks among us, would it be possible to cut some guys over at Celtic Park some slack?