Celtic be more ambitious or you will soon wither


Yesterday @SwissRamble on Twitter dissected Celtic’s finances.  His conclusions are as expected, “[Celtic] are in good shape financially… thanks to their sustainable approach, though this owes a lot to their player trading model. Champions League qualification is also important, so the expanded format should help future prospects.”

Player trading is worth exploring.  We have had the Asset Management conversation on CQN since our early weeks (2004), “Manage your assets or fail to manage your assets”.  Recently, when we wanted to transform our worst season in over a decade, we sold our top striker (Edouard) and our top defender (Ajer) and acquired Kyogo, Jota, Carter-Vickers and others.  It’s hard to believe how controversial this was in the early days of CQN, now we have seen the evidence, everyone gets it.

There needs to be clear objectives, though, what are we managing assets for?  There are two fundamental targets I think we can all agree on:

Win the league.
Qualify for the Champions League group stage.

The latter will sometimes be fulfilled by the former.  After a few years in the Champions League wilderness you might have convinced yourself that this is enough.  I read plenty of glowing comments from the “Just being there” brigade, reflecting in the glory of attacking against a vastly superior opponent who scored eight against us over two games.

This is not for me and I believe that it is not sustainable either.  Two, maybe three, seasons of cannon fodder in the Champions League and you’ll never hear from the “Just being there” types again.  We need to compete, have genuine hopes of reaching the knock out stages and I believe this is achievable.

Having lived through a quadruple treble and now two nine-in-a-rows, I don’t want to settle for a perennial nip-and-tuck title race.  I don’t just want to win the league this season, I want to win the league every season.  Giovanni van Bronckhorst got perilously close to delivering a European trophy for Newco.  If there is any stasis around Celtic Park right now, we will soon lose our dominant position.

But how, how do we make the great leap?  You can vary a few metrics around the edges, but player trading is where it’s at.  This is the only route open to us, we need to be better at it (despite the plaudits from Swiss Ramble) and we need to do much more of it.  Always be ready to trade, be ready to sell and have thoroughly assessed replacements lined up.  Don’t wait until our top talent has one or two years left on a contract, then stalls on a new deal with an eye over the border, which is where we have been recently.

The Edouard/Ajer strategy is better than allowing players to leave on a free, or holding them on increasingly high contracts until their talents wither (see 2000-05), but it underachieves.  At best, it allows stagnation, but it more commonly sees us decline.

If we want to be part of the Champions League story, if we want to go on another long run of league titles, we need to learn lessons, and you and I have had some painful lessons in recent seasons.  Edouard should have been sold in 2019, two years before he actually left.  Sure, there would have been distress on the comments pages here, but we kept a player who eventually became ineffective – too busy working on his next gig.  We need to dare to dream big!

As well as our (now) excellent recruitment setup, Celtic need the vision and strength to up their game.  Look at Ajax and Benfica, they are also trapped in small leagues, but sell players for multiples of the £24m we got for Kieran Tierney.  Do this and like these clubs, we can shop for more expensive talent ourselves.

If you can think of a brilliant alternative strategy, I’m all ears, but for now, we are faced with two alternate futures: repeat the glories and inevitable decline of the O’Neill, Strachan and Rodgers eras, or increase the velocity of player trading to a level that demonstrates the courage required to be a competitive Champions League outfit.

When we embark on our Champions League campaign in September, I want to have genuine hopes of reaching the knockout stage.  That will not happen without a radical overhaul of the current squad, which means selling for top money and buying more quality players.  “Learning lessons” from this season’s campaign will never bridge the gap, anyone who supported Celtic through the 90s will testify to this, so let’s not pretend otherwise.

The work should be underway already, we have two transfer windows and the rare luxury of a commanding lead in the league.  Celtic, you have a talented manager who works hand-in-glove with his scouting system.  Aligned both to a level of ambition that would give lesser mortals a nose bleed.  No more settling for “Just being there”.

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  1. Adventurous to say the least. This is the SPFL, not Eredivise or Liga Portugal. Those leagues have performed, over the years, very well in European football, there is no way we can attract those kinds of offers for our players, and, if we do, then those two leagues will increase the prices of their players on offer to correct the scales, por cierto

  2. PeterLatchfordsBelly on

    Agree with this 100%.



    This is very different from selling your top talent to ‘balance the books’. Frustration in the past two decades has been the false premise that advancing the team and balancing the books are mutually exclusive.



    I’m all in on this proposed approach.

  3. Ok,


    just cause we wont have any real competitive football for 5 weeks, discounting the Sydney cup (I mean its no Petrofac is it?) who is likely to attract interest from the Premier League big spenders ?



    Well, it is all of them really isnt it.

  4. And then another question



    our current squad, how many of them realistically could play in the EPL ?



    well again, it is all of them really isnt it.

  5. JAMES FORREST on 15TH NOVEMBER 2022 12:09 PM



    Take oit you didnt make it to the AGM?



    Ange said exactly the same thing as Pauls os now saying

  6. Recent comments from Ange suggest he’s not just supportive, he himself is suggesting a more aggressive approach. We’re extremely lucky to have someone with his vision in charge, clear thinking, prepare to take the sort of risks that could scupper his career in the interests of breaking a glass ceiling that’s stopped progression for years. It’s an area where with smart, hard work growth is possible.



    We’re in an extremely good place to push on with united football management and business departments.

  7. There is a lot of sense in this. Successful playing squads change every 3-4 years by at least a half.


    A big problem though for this trying this a failure in manging the “manager/head coach” asset. The two need to be worked together but if you look over the last 30 years this isn’t what happens.


    i really believe that player trading EVERY year including 2 or 3 of the best players out and 2-3 top new players in is essential however sad I would be (and I would be) to see some of them going. However, the reality is that managers rarely last more than 3 years now. So those in charge give them a big initial budget but after a year and a half start to have their eye on how long this manager will last and want to manage the pot for the new manager so money becomes less each subsequent year and instead of buying new players every year, we end up with splurges every 3-4 years.


    Managing assets every year would actually put an incoming manager in a better position and in need of less initial cash, but this isn’t the way that practice works. That is the main problem working against the model Paul is putting forward.

  8. There is something I’m not getting, how does selling your best players get you more success in the UCL? Reading the lead you’d be forgiven for thinking this strategy hadn’t been tried before.



    Lenny the first time around eventually got a team together capable of winning the league, they Began to be competitive in Europe, his best players were sold and we became uncompetitive in the UCL



    Ronny’s best players were sold and he never became competitive in the UCL



    Brendan Rodgers was initially funded and brought in some good players, when he wanted to improve the squad he couldn’t and some of his best players were sold.



    We went from a potential pot three team to not being able to qualify.



    We know from the leaked transfer document that Celtic’s policy is to sell high value players. It didn’t work in making us competitive.



    Why would this same strategy work now?



    We seen quite clearly we need to get much better in UCL terms, that won’t be achieved by selling our best players.



    Now I know a lot of old firm fans see the need to keep Rangers competitive but selling off our best players to help reduce the gap ultimately leads to failure.



    It Scotland needs a strong Rangers then they have to get better to match us, in fact Ange wants Celtic to improve, so they have to get much, much better out of their own volition



    No more hauners for Rangers, VAR’s enough for one season.



    Hail Hail

  9. I am never a doom merchant, nor am I an unrealistic dreamer,



    however I would be cautious about selling 3 prize assets at the same time in January.



    A 9 point lead is great, however there are 23 games still to play.



    Doing them without say Jota, Kyogo and Reo, who get cashed in for £40m or some other fantastical figure,



    well its a risk not needed,



    can we be cautiosly ambitious instead ?

  10. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Great to hear Ange talking about his wish to be a top Champions League team and not just being the best house in the street.


    Be good to hear the same from someone at a higher level to show there is the same level of ambition in the business and joined-up thinking across the board (no pun intended!).


    You have to wonder if there is any reason they don’t…….


    If we don’t push on from here it won’t be because of the manager.

  11. Next season is the last season of the ECL parachute if you finished 3rd in the CL group.


    Last chance to do something.



    After that I cannot see us becoming any more competative in the new league format.



    We will play 8 games, 4 at home, we will finish in the bottom quarter of the 36 team league, that will be our best fortunes going forward.



    In it, but never with a chance to win it or indeed get to last 16, I fear those days are over, new format does not extra for us,



    calemero csc




    Agree we must push on from here, there is some twenty months until the new UCL format comes in, in footballing squad building terms not a long time.



    We need to improve hugely by then, or become conference also rans.



    Selling our best players is not the way to do it.



    Hail Hail

  13. When it comes to transfer fees I think we need to be realistic about what’s possible, I think we increase profit by turning over more players rather than hoping for bigger fees.



    The teams we’d be hoping to emulate all play in more competitive leagues and all sell players to big clubs. It’s 9 years since we sold van Dijk, the Scottish league hasn’t produced a player who has gone on to make it at a top team. KT is third choice left back at Arsenal, Edouard is in and out of the Palace team, Ajer is injured all the time at Brentford but wasn’t a mainstay before it, Bassey is having a nightmare at Ajax.



    The SPL is a two horse race where one of the teams is the worst Champions league team ever. We face poor teams every week, our players aren’t tested anywhere near the levels they’d expect to be in a bigger league, 6 games in the CL isn’t enough.



    You’d have to be an absolute standout, like Mudryk, to play in the SPL and command anything more than what we got for KT. We’re not signing anyone who’s that promising, our only chance is getting lucky with a local player and managing to keep hold of them – unlike Doak



    There’s a sweet spot for how much you’d want to be paying if we’re talking about generating cash for more purchases. More Kris Ajer’s, fewer Edouards

  14. SAINT STIVS @ 12:43 PM,



    Agreed, these players are huge assets for us but selling them now would be senseless.



    The reason they did not do so great in Europe or get to the World Cup is because they weren’t good enough, we know tjey have the potential – Ange told them they have to get better, if they perform in the UCL and are regular Internationals then we get three times their current value.



    Hail Hail

  15. To manage our playing assets and trade as described, we’d need to have someone looking after the strategic direction of the club.


    Most managers build one team, perhaps two.


    Alex Ferguson was an obvious exception.


    The article maybe moves us towards a DoF style set up.

  16. CHAIRBHOY on 15TH NOVEMBER 2022 12:51 PM



    “Selling our best players is not the way to do it.”



    What is then?

  17. VVD – 202 matches in 9 seasons playing for english teams.



    Ki – 158 games in 8 seasons.



    Vic – 194 games in 7 seasons.



    Stuart the hair – 150 games in 5 seasons



    KT – 106 games 4 seasons.



    much of a muchness.

  18. CELTIC40ME @ 1:00 PM,



    Exactly what Ange’s doing.



    Left field tactics, improving our players, constantly strengthening the squad, getting fitter and better with said tactics.



    Our best will go eventually, we all know that, the strategy shouldn’t be trying to sell them, like Rangers have tried with Morelos, it should be allow the player to get better and more experienced – the player will sell himself.



    Hail Hail

  19. I would say they all established themselves as EL team squad members so yes they are at that level.



    I expect KT to move onto another top 6 club.

  20. Selling our best players when they are at peak value, and replacing with better but cheaper, is a brilliant philosophy in theory. The replacing with better but cheaper is the hard bit. The really hard bit. But, if we want to move from pot 4 to pot 3, or better, then some creative asset management is the way to go.



    Celtic’s success last season was a result of most of the new recruits hitting the ground running. Or in the case of Kyogo, flying out the traps. If squad management is going to be more ruthless ongoing, then I will be happy to see the back of Starfelt and Giakoumakis, on the premise that we will have better lined up.



    A World Cup in November/December, in a small desert state, is just another example of nothing staying the same forever. Fifa should just go the whole hog and have a World Cup every three years and the Euro’s should be scrapped completely to accommodate this. Celtic will have, hopefully, eight CL Group games in season 2024/25, so, with the additional fixtures in European club competitions, the traditional four yearly international competition should be allowed to die a natural death. Qualifiers, finals, the lot.

  21. Noticeable that teams wronged by VAR at the weekend,have said hee haw,i suspect this could be a move to isolate Celtic,cue the ‘tiresome ‘,type statements from the SFA/SPFL and the referees……

  22. SAINT STIVS on 15TH NOVEMBER 2022 1:09 PM



    None of them have proved to be worth more than what was paid for them.



    We can sell them earlier to increase the profit, but we aren’t increasing the market price for the best SPL talent by wishing it.

  23. JIMDOM @ 1:19 PM,



    This is it, how do you sell the player and hope the prospect does better?



    We did it for a decade and it didn’t work.



    If we now look at selling Callum last season, it would have been madness, yet after a rare injury he’s been out and we haven’t unduly missed him.



    I’m not suggesting we sell Callum, just an example of if you improve and manage the squad you need’nt rely on your “high value” players and when they are sold the “hit” is minimised.



    Hail Hail

  24. All sounds wonderful on paper.We were extremely lucky to land Jota.Can you imagine the uproar among the fans if we sold him?.Where is a replacement for Jota coming from?.Ange got us Hatate,sell him,where is his replacement??Same with O Riley.We have hardly had enough time to enjoy these guys,now we must sell them on.The old ,but true,we play in the SPFL,always comes back to haunt us.Thrashed in the CL is not a great attraction.We can’t afford CL ready players,or they won’t come.


    We have started signing most players now for 5 years,some 4.That should give us at least 3 years to develop them into better players.One CL,and we are talking about selling.The replacements,you better believe, won’t have played at that level before,so back to square one.The likes of Abada,not up to CL level,this year,but who knows next year.


    To compare us with the Dutch and Portugese leagues is ridiculous.They have been doing this a long time,churning out players for transfer every season.Ajax took £ 160 million from man U for 2 of their players.Both S American.The right winger Anthony,90 million.Can you see Man U paying anything like that for Jota?.We are SPFL,their is a ceiling for us,unless we persist for at least 3 years with our top stars,and they perform in the CL.

  25. CHAIRBHOY on 15TH NOVEMBER 2022 1:08 PM



    What Morelos shows 100% is the folly of holding onto your best players. They’ve messed up with their pricing and their timing, their best player is now a liability who’s costing them more in wages than he’s worth in transfer fees



    Like Morelos was, our players aren’t good enough for the champions league. We’re miles short. We need better players, qualification for the champions league doesnt generate enough money in itself, we need big profits from player trading



    Otherwise it’s more of the same, abd I thought we were looking to do more than just stay ahead of the Huns

  26. CELTIC40ME on 15TH NOVEMBER 2022 1:00 PM


    CHAIRBHOY on 15TH NOVEMBER 2022 12:51 PM







    “Selling our best players is not the way to do it.”







    What is then?



    Well,certainly not ,rinse and repeat.

  27. TURKEYBHOY on 15TH NOVEMBER 2022 1:34 PM


    All sounds wonderful on paper.We were extremely lucky to land Jota.Can you imagine the uproar among the fans if we sold him?



    I think Ange has broad shoulders and a thick skin:



    “We Need to be much more active in the transfer market. This will be uncomfortable for some. I know fans like to have their heroes but to achieve at this level we will need to be much more active.”

  28. Celtic 40 me,



    That’s Morelos.Not a great example.A very good striker,SPFL and Europe,but a liability with his behaviour.


    Why they are left with him.No one would take the gamble on his temperament.

  29. CELTIC40ME @ 1:35 PM,



    Concentrate on building the squad and the team performing, if we get to the level of a Pot 3 UCL side our squad value will soar, we buy and sell as necessary.



    Hail Hail

  30. Celtic 40 me,



    Ange can say what he likes.I don’t care who says it,if it does not make a bit of sense to me,I ain’t going with it.


    Maybe Ange could possibly think of 4-4-2,when playing in CL.One excellent holding Midfielder might have made a hell of a difference.


    Love him,but he in not infallible.


    I honestly cannot see the sense in selling star players,who are performing,to bring in replacements,who might not.Not this early.A year on their contacts,is plenty,if they want to go.

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