Benkovic and Ajer


Since picking up an injury at Celtic in January 2019, Filip Benkovic has completed five full league games, all for Bristol City.  The Leicester City player has made cup appearances, been used as an occasional substitute and seen lots of reserve football; there was only a short-term injury to mitigate the lack of game time in the intervening period.  This week his loan period at Cardiff City was terminated after his first and last appearance came against Wycombe a week ago.

He arrived on loan at Celtic in the summer of 2018 and looked every inch the 21-year-old prodigy.  He is 9 months older than Kristoffer Ajer and at that point was clearly more accomplished than our current most valuable defensive asset.

Kris has kicked on significantly in the years since, at 22, he is without doubt the best central defender to play in Scotland since Virgil van Dijk.  Filip will have earned more money than Kris, but even money will be no consolation, as unless he stages an unlikely turnaround at Leicester, his expected career earnings will be less than Kris’s.

There is a morality tale here, although it will be impossible for anyone to learn from it.  Filip left Dinamo Zagreb for the kind on money only available in England, irresistible to club and player.  His subsequent lack of progress will inhibit no one from following.

Having watched him perform, you and I know more about the player than most, there is certainly potential, although clearly there is more to the picture than was evident from his season at Celtic.  We have to assume people in Bristol and Cardiff saw a less impressive picture; potential is not always fulfilled.  Would you take him?  Of course you would, don’t even try to deny it.

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  1. HT.



    The point we were talking about is rather the jaundiced slant of the media in Scotland.







  2. Hansi Flick has ruled out Bayern Munich making any major signings in the January transfer window.



    The head coach said on Thursday there was a chance of “one or two” players leaving the European champions, but in terms of arrivals, Flick said it was important he did not press the club to bring in new faces during a “very difficult” period.



    Like all clubs, Bayern’s finances have taken a hit, largely because of the absence of supporters from stadiums during the Covid-19 crisis





    Aye, but we are gonny sell for millions then err, buy for millions.



    In yer dreams!

  3. A professional ‘PR person’ does way more than just media relations, which is only a fraction of their remit.


    True Public Relations helps improve the relationships and rapport between an Org and all of its audiences.


    More, it encourages the Org to listen better, assess consequences and be more transparent in all dealings.


    Strategic PRs are valued for their ability to talk straight to Board & Execs as, say, a good legal counsel is.


    But if the main issues are transparency and trust, bad headlines and fractured relationships are inevitable.


    Professional PR helps fix those deep cultural and systemic issues but it can only do it if those at the top of the tree are willing to listen…



    At the mo, we still need coaching excellence over PR excellence. HH

  4. An Tearmann


    I’m not from Clarkston, but nearby Busby. There is another Clarkston near Airdrie, which is the one Wee BGFC is referring to 😉🙄



    Hope you are well D.




  5. Melbourne Mick on

    Hello again all you young rebels.



    Re-PR people, always remember big Jock did his own pr


    on hostile journeys.


    He had the dirty dark secrets on all of them and was always


    one step ahead when it came to promoting anything Celtic.




    Just catching up, all good down here in Oz, beautiful morning


    sun shining again, 27 degs expected, so a day on the beach


    with wee Grace and a surf board and the ubiquitous stubby.


    H.H. Mick

  6. blantyretim is praying for the Knox family on

    JPTaylor is fan liaison officer and is not PR



    Last I remember was Peter McLean and he was a jambo

  7. blantyretim is praying for the Knox family on

    JP has enough on his plate trying to deal with disgruntled Celtic supporters he is the old ‘pig in the middle guy stuck between a rock and a hard place

  8. Celtic’s Ian Bankier: The Man Who Isn’t There, Who We Wish Would Go Away.



    Antigonish is a poem about a ghost.



    That hasn’t stopped it being used against various people from politics and other walks of life ever since it was published; the important lines are the ones I’m sure you’ve all heard a million times before.



    Yesterday, upon the stair,


    I met a man who wasn’t there!


    He wasn’t there again today,


    Oh how I wish he’d go away!



    Our chairman is “the man who isn’t there.”



    He does nothing. He contributes nothing. He keeps a lower profile than a man on the run.



    Whenever the papers talk about the decision making process at Celtic they mention the largest shareholder and the chief executive; it’s as if the role of Celtic chairman is an emeritus position instead of one that should carry real weight.



    For all that, I do wish he’d go away, and most Celtic fans do.



    We just don’t get particularly animated about it, because, frankly, he’s just not worth it.



    His name, in case you’ve forgotten it, is Ian Bankier.



    If you know what he actually does in that role, then you know more than I do.



    He chairs meetings. So what?



    Do you remember the Only Fools episode when Rodney becomes chair of the housing committee? I’ve been a Labour branch chair; opening and closing meetings and deciding the order of the speakers isn’t a huge deal.



    One of the things I’ve found most fascinating about the last few months is that even amidst all the fury directed at the Celtic board, Ian Bankier’s name was never mentioned.



    Where was it on those banners which were hung outside Celtic Park?



    My favourite was the one with the faces of the three “guilty men” on it; Lawwell, Desmond and Lennon.



    It wasn’t as if fans were saying that the chairman of the board wasn’t responsible for any of what went wrong … it was that they know his role at the club is so minor and so insignificant that, really, who cares whether he stays or goes?



    He wields no influence, he has no power, he’s basically a figurehead, so who gives a toss whether he’s there or not?



    We all should, actually.



    I can’t think of a bigger indictment of this guy than to say that he’s so useless that the whole upper echelon of the club could be swept away except for him and that no-one might realise he was still in post for months.



    But if you believe, as I do, in the old Chinese adage that “a fish rots from the head down” then you have to look at this guy with a more critical eye.



    Bankier didn’t exactly start his tenure as chairman successfully.



    Everything about this guy reeks of weakness, and his public relations skills are strictly amatuer hour.



    At the AGM at which Bankier was presented as chairman, Phil Mac Giolla Bhain attempted to quiz him on his alleged “Celtic background.”



    In spite of a vain attempt by the club’s PR people to keep him out of the press conference, Phil was there that day.



    Sitting beside Hugh Keevins, who was there representing Clyde, and just behind Raman Bhardwaj of STV, Phil had come prepared, having done his homework on Bankier.



    He knew that Bankier was not only not a Celtic fan, but he had no love for football as a sport either. Indeed, Phil’s deep dive into his background revealed him to be a rugby fan.



    Still, Celtic tried to present him at the AGM as a “lifelong Celtic supporter.”



    Phil asked him the two questions you and I would ask the fans of every single club;



    “What was your first Celtic game?” and “Who was your first Celtic hero?”



    Not complicated. Easy stuff. Every fan, of every club, can answer those without much thought. Even if they are hazy on the exact details of the first game, they can tell you, in an instant, about the first one they do remember.



    But Bankier had no idea how to answer those modest inquiries.



    He stumbled and stammered through an attempted answer, but it was clear that he had no idea what he was talking about and couldn’t muster a coherent response.



    As part of his attempted answer, he actually blundered on about which Catholic school he had attended, as well as recounting a ridiculous anecdote about how his maths teacher had been a Celtic fan.



    The story he chose to highlight, and the hilarious – for all the wrong reasons – player he claimed had been one of his math’s teacher’s early heroes was Frank Haffey … who as most Celtic fans know was not exactly the club’s Fraser Forster of the era.



    It’s the dishonesty that amazes you.



    A Celtic chairman does not have to be steeped in the history of our club, so there was no need at all for the charade.



    Bankier has only made headlines a handful of times as chairman, and to be frank very few of them have been for reasons that endear him to those of us who actually are Celtic fans.



    I wrote on this blog, in 2018, that when a section of our support was outraged at him for attending a Downing Street dinner with Theresa May that it was far better to have a guy like that at the helm than one who’s Wikipedia page included the words “originally indicted on 322 counts including fraud, tax evasion and evasion of exchange control regulations, as well as money-laundering and racketeering.”



    I stand by that; I didn’t care who he had his dinner with.



    But over time, as Celtic’s corporate proclivities have become plainer and more obvious I can see that his attendance that night was part of a continuum. In the piece I wrote about Brian Wilson, I covered some of the other members of the Celtic board and their involvement in the 2014 independence referendum, on the No side.



    What I didn’t know until someone sent me the information is that Bankier himself was involved on the No side.



    I wasn’t surprised; it confirms what I wrote about this being a unionist board.



    Bankier’s sins are worse than that though; the last three times he’s been in the papers addressing fans directly was to have a go at them.



    At the AGM recently, he had a go at the supporters for the criticisms of Neil Lennon.



    In 2018 he said Celtic fans had “dragged the club into the gutter” over allegations that there had been some rather uncomplimentary chants directed at Steven Gerrard and Craig Levein.



    The most egregious example of his coming after our supporters – who he has never defended, and nor has he ever uttered a single word in defence of our players or staff when they’ve been abused – was when he accused fans of being “anti-Semites” after lots of us suggested that Ian Livingston should no longer be on the board of directors after casting a vote in the Lords in favour of austerity.



    They are, far and away, the most scandalous comments I have ever heard uttered by a Celtic official and directed at our own fans.



    Livingston was being slammed for acting in a way that was grossly out of step with the charitable ethos of our club; no Celtic fan that I knew was aware of his religion and I can safely say that none would have cared if they did.



    To smear our fans in that way was an outrage that led to the blogs nearly unanimously demanding his resignation; a worthless “clarification” followed which appeased exactly nobody.



    The anger over it is still fresh, although it was ages ago.



    Every time I mention Bankier in a piece I get responses about that affair.



    Nobody has either forgotten or forgiven him for it.



    There is little doubt that this was going to be Bankier’s legacy when he departed.



    This is what he would have been remembered for; in truth, it is virtually all he would have been remembered for.



    The more I recognise that legacy doesn’t matter to anyone at Celtic Park – Lawwell, in particular, has surprised me in this regard – the more I realise that holding these people to account via the historical verdict is simply not going to be enough.



    Shaming those who have no shame is a doomed strategy.



    These people have to be confronted by their failures and what they mean in the here and now, and if that leads to people not renewing season tickets, if it means empty spaces in the stands, if it means closing the upper tiers of the ground again, then that’s what must be done … these people cannot think that it is only the history books which will judge them.



    Bankier is not the worst Celtic chairman ever. He is certainly not the best. He might well be the weakest. He is certainly the most useless, the most anonymous, and his behaviour whilst in post the most offensive to ordinary fans.



    Most of us might forget from time to time who he is and the characterisation of him as Celtic’s “man who wasn’t there” is right on the nose.



    That doesn’t mean we should allow him to stay in his role.



    When his CEO packs his desk this guy ought to follow him.



    His glad-handing pals at the AGM might have given him support for another year, but fans may yet have the final say on that, and we should be looking to.

  9. RC on 7TH JANUARY 2021 8:48 PM



    would rather we gave jack hendry a chance at centre back than Benkovic



    *aye me tae, seems tae be doing alright in Belgium.

  10. JAMES FORREST on 7TH JANUARY 2021 10:48 PM


    Celtic’s Ian Bankier: The Man Who Isn’t There, Who We Wish Would Go Away.



    That doesn’t mean we should allow him to stay in his role.







    When his CEO packs his desk this guy ought to follow him.




    His glad-handing pals at the AGM might have given him support for another year, but fans may yet have the final say on that, and we should be looking to.









    reading all that hurt my eyes, and i thought could have been put into the executive sumary above.



    however, no amount of celtic fans the world over will make a blind bit of difference to mr bankier being in that seat.



    no voting rights, no changes.

  11. exactly. nutshell.



    GARCIA LORCA on 7TH JANUARY 2021 3:46 PM


    Dessybhoy@ 2.26pm





    Peter Lawwell worked as Financial Controller under Terry Cassidy in 1990-1991. He left worked at Clydeport ( amongst other appointments )and subsequently returned in 2003 to the role of CEO( although I believe the title was changed to something like Executive Director).





    He is vastly overpaid , has been in role too long and it would be in everyone’s interest , his included, if he departed and opened the way to fresh thinking.





    I have written on this subject previously but I believe PL was spooked by the demise of Rangers and that led to insular and confused thinking about the future of Celtic. He took the wrong path so we reached where we are today.





    An eight year old club with a team of journeymen romping their way to the title and potentially Champions League riches. A consequence of that wrong decision means he has participated in the restoration of a fraudulent business , has largely remained silent on the wrongdoing and alienated a section of the Celtic support .






  12. JAMES FORREST on 7TH JANUARY 2021 10:48 PM



    A large portion of a very good post condemns the board for their support of the No campaign and of being unionists.



    For the record they are Euro Unionists I believe.



    However if they were yes men and campaigned for separatism then they would be good guys then ? Is that valid.?



    There are sound reasons for questioning our board, but if they believe an ” independent ” Scotland would be detrimental to the interests of Celtic, then surely that is no reason for criticism. Personal opinion notwithstanding.






    PS : I would be much more interested if one was a director ( even a non exec type ) of a company associated with unlawful blacklisting of workers.

  13. Let’s not rush into things. Personally, I would keep Barkas as I think he’ll come good. I’d let Duffy go back to Brighton and replace him with Declan Gallagher who will be able to step right in and doesn’t need a lot of coaching. I’d give him a two year contract with an option on a third. He’d do an in immediate job simple as that. Leave aside his unsavoury personal history, he never had trouble with the law before that event and has had no trouble since. I’d aim to bring on Stephen Welsh, Anthony Ralston and MJ. I’d sell Eddie this window and give Ajeti a chance along with Griff and Klimala. Frimpong is a winger, albeit like Laxalt without a final ball. Coaching, coaching, coaching should improve that. I think Taylor should start regulalrly as he is better defensively and will give more assists and his future is with Celtic for forseeable future unlike Laxalt’s. With good coaching and experience the young players I’ve mentioned can be part of the future.

  14. Good Morning, Fresh Winters Morn In The Chilterns…



    For me it is the day to give those 2021 determinations a wee boost…



    Interesting lead article – those of us who have been around long enuff know the importance of CQN to Celtic’s expectation management.



    When we read the lead over our lunchtime tea, what do we really feel these days? Was interesting seeing Jobo’s reaction t’uther day, like many disillusioned souls before him. Aff Oot



    For me, it’s the tealeaf-s at the bottom of the cup that get my attention, my Granny was a reader…



    Must say “Benkovic and Ajer”



    Well the pattern is interesting for a start… Benkovic gets top billing – why?



    A loanee who did a reasonable job as understudy for his crocked Balkan brother Simonuvic.



    Of course, unlike Simonuvic, who had a penchant for launching the odd Ibroxian striker into the ether, Benkovic bottled it at Ibrox, got injured and became a Celtic footnote.



    Ajer on the other hand showed himself to be a bhoy and now a mhan of steely determination; a formidable force as well as a technically gifted footballer and consummate athlete – all in all, as was predicted some time ago by those fholk more perceptive than I – a future Club Captain.



    Of course I have taken a little interest in Benkovic’s career, the ironic fact that the Celtic Manager, who had to make do with this foxes’ loanee, became the Leicester City manager.



    I don’t believe he ever played Benkovic for Celtic in a meaningful match after his weak knee’d Ibrox display. It would be interesting if he ever played him in a meaningful match for Leicester City I thought – he never has MMMMmmmmmm.



    Interestingly enuff Benkovic came on my radar fairly recently, you see he was on loan to Cardiff City, who recently took on the Chairboys at Adams’ Park.



    It maybe an understatement to say the season hasn’t gone swimmingly for Wycombe Wanderers so far but determined triers are always going to get a break and a break they got.



    You see one Sean Morrison, one of Cardiff’s best players and Captain was injured in the first twenty minutes of the game and was, to the good fortune of Wycombe, replaced at Centre Half by none other than Filip Benkovic.



    A front three from Wycombe, lead by the erstwhile Heart – Ikpeazu, produced the kind of physical display the boy Benkovic does not like… Wycombe bested the team from the Welsh Capital and earned themselves a rare three points.



    That was enuff for the Cardiff Manager and poor Filip got his jotters once again.



    So why “Benkovic and Ajer”!?



    One thing you can say about Benkovic, he is high up in the alphabet stakes in professional football, yet again not as high as Ajer though.



    “Benkovic and Ajer” you may as well lead with chaulk and cheese.



    Hail Hail

  15. If we’re looking at Benkovic as replacement for Ajer, if we’re looking at Eduoard leaving, If we’re 19 points and 22 goals behind (with 3 games in hand)……..



    then I’m no longer concerned about the league this season. It’s already gone.



    However, I am concerned about next season and the following season and the one after that. And pretty much every future one until we start making best use of our resources.

  16. Melbourne Mick on

    Hello again all you young rebels.





    Very insightful post, the only defence I can come up with is the


    fact he looked like a decent centre back, with pace, anticipation,


    heading ability, and what matters quite a lot to me, he looked


    good in a Celtic jersey, omg, here comes the,” how can you judge


    a player in a Celtic jersey” mob lol.


    I can’t.


    But gives you all a chance to converse with me.


    H.H. Mick

  17. ILJASB @ 6:10 AM,



    Thanks, we have a player in Ajer.






    Yes, no doubts when he first came to us he looked the part but we were fairly desperate and when Simonuvic was (reasonably) fit Lenny didn’t play him.



    You are right though, think him and Jullien would look the part in the Adidas kit – just wouldn’t want to see them up against Akinfenwa:))



    Your comment strangely reminded me of something….



    I once saw Jeremy Guscott speaking at an event, he talked about the time as a boy he played his first full physical contact rugby match, it was a cold morning on a muddy pitch – he was running full pelt with the ball when an opposition player tackled him hard and sent him sprawling to the ground. He immediately started crying, run over to his mum on the sidelines.



    She consoled him – “don’t worry,” she said, “they can be washed.”



    But you are right, there is no better vision than a Celtic team up for it, wearing the hoops – they are magical, and the hairs in the back of my neck still stand up at the sight.



    Hail Hail

  18. Back to Basics - Glass Half Full on

    Chairbhoy – enjoyed that post. Cheers.



    Went back and re-read Paul’s leader afterwards.



    Largely took it as a “look what happens” lesson when young players are gobbled up by the system and get too much too soon.



    Basically, Kris has earned less to date but progressed far more.



    As a result, his overall career earning potential far exceeds Filip’s.



    Found it largely persuasive other than the penultimate sentence.



    My answer to “would you take him” would be “possibly, but probably not”.



    Every football manager thinks they can rehabilitate a player whose career has gone wayward.



    In this instance it could be that Benkovic was only ever “quite good” at his best and the club who paid £11m for his “potential” got it wrong.



    Hail hail



    Keep The Faith

  19. Back to Basics - Glass Half Full on

    CB – “that post” being your Cardiff match experience.



    Guscott story was good too though.




  20. Good Morning Melbourne Mick


    Feckin freezing here in Dundee, even though the sun has just come up. Got to brave the elements today for the weekly shop despite that. Hope all is well down in the Peninsula and no doubt you are getting your fair share of the golden rays – lucky mhan! Keep up the evangelical work down under, I always smile when I see you post.






    Yes, actually I read the lead yesterday, I normally re-read after writing a comment before posting.



    P67 obviously mentioned Filip’s Benkovic’s rather journeyman professional career since January 2019



    Also his point regarding the development of two players careers who definitely had similarities and potential is well observed.



    – Chelsea hoover up youngsters with any sort of potential around where I live… Wycombe Academy would be better suited to most.



    Still it was this that is concerning…



    “Would you take him?  Of course you would, don’t even try to deny it.



    After looking at our car crash of a season, if anyone thinks Filip Benkovic is close to the answer they are asking the wrong questions.



    @ 9:15 am



    Admitted, I didn’t see the Wycombe, Cardiff match, just going by comments the chair-boys and girls made – Tafazolli and Ikpeazu Booked were excellent and ran the Bluebirds defense ragged according to them.



    Hail Hail

  22. Melbourne Mick on




    What can I say, sun, sand, sangria and Celtic.


    You’ve been here, you know what it’s like, just irks me


    you are the only one I couldn’t meet up with.


    Rest assured if you ever come back, my house, barbecue,


    even my surf board is yours, as I’m sure some other good


    Tims who’ve sat at my table will testify.


    H.H. MICK




    I’m sure your comment to An Tearman is right, Clarkston is in between Airdrie town centre and Plains.



    My Uncle Willie lived in Clarkston and re-populated the area with Tims – so if St Edward’s isn’t brimming with Clarkston residents it’s not my family’s fault;)



    Hail Hail

  24. Chairbhoy



    👍😊 interesting comments re Benkovic, which pretty much chime with my thoughts: too injury prone and certainly not match fit, therefore not a potential improvement.



  25. Any young 13million quid player failing to make an EPL or even Championship impact will be considering his next move very carefully; if he has a decent career agent, he’ll be thinking about that topic double-hard.


    Questions on their mind might include…


    Calibre of club


    Calibre of coach


    What kind of formation


    What kind of season are they having


    Media reporting environment


    Fan expectations/fairness


    Are we a shoo-in for that kinda player?

  26. Melbourne Mick on




    I’ve mentioned it a few times, but maybe it’s just me, but the Celtic


    top with short sleeves and a white long sleeved shirt under does


    nothing for me.


    Am I the only one?


    H.H. Mick

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