January 2020 a window of the margins


The January 2020 transfer window closed with Celtic signing Patryk Klimala and Ismaila Soro, while Lewis Morgan and Scott Sinclair left the club.  In addition, Eboue Kouassi and Jack Hendry, as well as several youth players, left on loan.

With two left wingers out (or on their way out), Mikey Johnston’s injury on Wednesday set the club off looking for cover for that position.  If we continue to play three at the back, this will be less of a concern, but Neil Lennon’s other regular formation, with four at the back, requires two wingers.  It will be a couple of weeks before Mohamed Elyounoussi is back to full fitness, so James Forrest will carry much of the burden until then.

My big concern is in central defence.  We have the headcount in this area, but the two covering players, Jozo Simunovic and Nir Bitton have endured another season of injury, we are vulnerable.  Hatem Elhamed plays both right and centre back, so should be able to provide cover.  Like Moi, he is working towards full fitness. You can chart your own expectations on when he is Hatem is back and Jozo is next injured.

Ismaila Soro is likely to be used sparingly over the next few weeks as he adjusts to living in northern Europe, but I have hopes for him.  We need a player we can rely on when Callum McGregor or Scott Brown need a rest.  Patryk Klimala looks to have pace and a directness in front of goal.  He will give the manager options.

Despite the hero-status I attach to Scott Sinclair, those who have left contributed next to nothing this season, so should not be a miss between now and May.  The transfer window litmus test: Stronger or Weaker, will hopefully be passed.  What we know for certain is that we will not be significantly stronger or weaker.  This was a window of the margins.  Given the importance of this season, that fact is frustrating.

We now have our squad for what will either be our second nine-in-a-row season and possible fourth consecutive treble (!), or something considerably less glorious.  They are the strongest squad in the country, with the best manager in the country, do not bet against them.

The job starts with three consecutive games in Lanarkshire, the first time in our 132-year history this is the case (if I momentarily stop claiming Glasgow as part of the County).  History is ours for the making, let’s get it done.

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  1. Buckle in, eah?



    An objective “to build a squad capable of winning every domestic game from now until the end of the season.”



    But hey, it’s a “window of margins.”



    It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so absolutely horrific.

  2. Back to Basics - Glass Half Full on

    Reasonable assessment Pablo after an underwhelming Friday.



    Other than wanting cover at CB I was relatively unconcerned by this window.



    IMHO, Soro, Klimala and unsigned CB1 will have marginal impact on our title chances



    whereas ….



    A fit Griffiths, El Hamed and Elyanoussi will have a significant impact.



    It’s in the past. Time to back the team and the manager for the 9.



    Hail hail



    Keep The Faith

  3. Capable






    (capable of doing something)


    having the ability, fitness, or quality necessary to do or achieve a specified thing.


    “I’m quite capable of taking care of myself” · “the aircraft is capable of flying 5,000 miles non-stop”




    have the ability to · have the potential to · be equal to (the task of) · be up to · be disposed to · be inclined to · be prone to · be liable to · be likely to · be apt to · have what it takes to


    open to or admitting of something.


    “the strange events are capable of rational explanation”




    be open to · be susceptible of · admit of · allow of


    able to achieve efficiently whatever one has to do; competent.


    “she looked enthusiastic and capable” · “a highly capable man”




    competent · able · efficient · effective · proficient · accomplished · adept · apt · practised · experienced · qualified · skilful · skilled · masterly · talented · gifted · clever · intelligent · handy · useful · habile

  4. Go tell the Spartim on

    It’s another huge gamble the plc are taking massive one. If we don’t get 9 we know where the blame will be placed and rightly so



    I’m no longer disappointed in transfer windows I adopt the same I don’t give a **** attitude from those in charge

  5. weebobbycollins on

    “El Hamed and Elyanoussi will have a significant impact.”


    Can’t even remember what these guys look like, it’s been so long since we saw them.

  6. Good afternoon, if we fail to win 9IAR I personally will be speaking to a number of high profile Celtic fans to ask them for direction on how we remove this board from their duties.



    Cheating swept aside, failed to deliver their promises to the resolution 12 boys, failure to back the team when we need it most.



    We as fans have backed this club through thick and thin it’s time for change due to their failure in their duties to us and shareholders.

  7. Agree Paul, we needed another Centre Half


    Not a converted midfielder aka, Bitton or Ajer, although Ajer is coming along



    A big powerful Centre Half to confront the big lumps thrown at us in FtSPFL, where at times our 2 6’5″ Centre Halfs can be bullied



    Just my opinion



    Still more deadwood could have been moved on from our current 1st team squad of 30 ?

  8. Written by CelticStarMag



    It’s 9IAR or it’s PL-Exit



    CELTIC CEO Peter Lawwell and his hand picked management team of Neil Lennon and John Kennedy left Celtic Park around 11.45pm last night having had a frustrating evening trying and failing to bring in some last minute recruits.



    Niall J has already made the point this morning on The Celtic Star that the correct thing for us as a support to do is put aside out disappointment at another underwhelming performance by the club in the transfer window and focus on the football and in particular the remaining league matches as we look to win 9 titles in a row for the second time in our unbroken history.




    What is happening across the city isn’t something we can control. They signed a veteran striker on a new deal last week only for him to pull up injured the next night. He is out for five to six weeks apparently and the replacement from Hibs in a late night swap shop situation shouldn’t cause us any great concern.



    Morelos continues to make headlines for his off and on the field antics – what is he, one yellow away from another suspension? Scott McKenna should sort that one out this afternoon when the two indulge in their usual jousting content.



    Jack is injured and Tavernier is coming back from an appendix problem, he could be back today or maybe not. It seems somewhat rushed that one, desperate even.



    If Aberdeen can’t be beaten today there will be huge pressure on Steven Gerrard and Celtic will get a significant boost ahead of the game at Hamilton in the early kick-off tomorrow.



    The frustration among our support is tangible and the heat is very much on the three late-leavers from Celtic Park last night. Failure to deliver 9IAR after their performance in the January window will surely see the three of them struggle to keep their jobs.



    After the December games against the Rangers there has been an acknowledgment from inside the club that we need to find a new way to play against the Rangers who use a narrow 4-3-3 with their wide players pushing in to help their striker. Then if they get their noses in front, they revert to a 4-5-1. They have used this in the Europa League to great effect this season and in December it outfoxed Celtic’s predictable 4-2-3-1.



    Neil Lennon since the winter break has used three different formation – the one mentioned above plus a midfield diamond shape and the 3-5-2 that has been so exciting to watch.



    Young Welsh was recalled from his loan spell at Morton a week or so ago and was on the bench last weekend against Ross County.



    With Jozo Simunovic unlikely to play tomorrow, coupled with the ongoing injuries to Elhamed and Bitton and the deadline disappointment regarding Filip Benković, Neil Lennon should look at starting the Development defender tomorrow to keep the 3-5-2 shape.



    Benković opted for Bristol City on Brexit Day and our own BR-Exit had something to do with that decision. And the player himself quite understandably might have opted for the guaranteed game time fighting for promotion in the highly competitive English Championship rather than the possibility of being a bench warmer at Celtic under Neil Lennon.




    If you think back, Lenny preferred time use Celtic’s own players when he returned after BR-Exit and when Benković returned from injury he was mostly an unused substitute.



    Maybe after suffering from a severe lack of game-time under Rodgers at Leicester City, he just wanted to play football?



    There was another BR-Exit factor on Brexit Day ( of infamy) in that the current Bristol City CEO was the man in charge at Reading and the guy who gave Brendan Rodgers his first job in management. The two have remained friends ever since.



    Compare and contrast with Rodgers’ relationship with Celtic CEO Peter Lawwell. Despite public politeness, make no mistake their is no love lost there, so the chances of the life-long Celtic Supporters doing Celtic a favour were remote, even after the club’s massaged his ego last week on social media. You cringed too at that one?



    Rodgers remember already loaned a player to the Rangers this season.



    Lawwell didn’t trust Rodgers to spend money on the transfer market. You would have to say that this was a fair and reasonable position to take. However that doesn’t mean you try to do it yourself or totally control those tasked to do the job.




    Nick Hammond was even being referred to as a Chief Scout by a Lawwell friendly outlet last week. He, like Lennon and Kennedy, are there working for and under Lawwell who has too much influence in areas of the club that should not directly concern him.



    The Arzani, Shved and Bayo signings were all apparently CEO productions so his own record is closing in on Rodgers’. Will Celtic get any value from these players? There is little to suggest we will.



    The two new signings Patryk Klimala and Ismaila Soro could be different, given they are products of the new structure – even if Lawwell is still influencing matters.



    All of this however is for after the league campaign is over. Hopefully our failure to bring in a winger – despite selling two, having two injured and Lawwell’s two out the picture, or a central defender – despite being one short of having a back three for a game at Hamilton, won’t prove costly.



    For the Celtic CEO and his management team, the stakes are high. It’s 9IAR or it’s PL- Exit.

  9. El Hammad, has looked decent when seen


    It’s how often he’s been seen is an issue, be that at right back, not seen him at CH


    Any ideas when he will be seen again ?

  10. ‘This was a window of the margins. Given the importance of this season, that fact is frustrating.’


    Lennon wanted 2 experienced players to really kick start the remainder of the season.


    The liar Lawwell (see res 12) provided neither.


    How long is it going to take to root out the cancer at the club. figuratively speaking?

  11. Proofread by Peter Lawell this morning.



    Pathetic stuff here, which is the norm.



    Spinless cretins kow-towing to the board in order to get a heated seat in Celtic Park once or twice a year.



    This type of drivel is par for the course.

  12. onenightinlisbon on

    Another board excusing piece from Paul, but that’s what we expect.



    Spend as much as it takes to blow away your main opponent?



    A no brainer for Celtic supporters.



    However the likes of Lawwell and Desmond are not supporters, they are out for themselves and the money a close title race will spin.



    And if we do manage to get 9, next season will be no different. Buckle in? Just means continue to let our board treat us as customers, there to be taken for a fast buck each and every time.

  13. The Battered Bunnet on




    I wouldn’t worry about the need to organise a movement to oust the board. If we fail to make it 9 this season, PL will be offski on the first (last) stage out of town. For him, there will be no hiding place.



    It will be no consolation to you, him or anyone else that he’ll be as gutted at the failure as the rest of us. This is history in the making, and that opportunity comes along but once in a career.



    Were I in his place, and accepting that it’s not possible to guarantee anything in football, I’d have done whatever was in my gift to assure the outcome. He might well argue that he has done so within the constraints of an SPFL recruitment deficit. Equally, given he was still trying to close deals at 11.00 last night, clearly he wanted more strength in the squad.



    There are two competing observations tis season:



    Firstly, performance so far this season is one of the best in the past 20 years. I think only two other seasons have returned more league points by this stage, we have the first trophy in the bag, and have just topped a European group for the first time.



    Secondly, Sevco are performing at a very similar level, and there’s little we can do about that beyond beating them in the head-to-head matches. So far we’ve won 2 and lost 1. The longer Sevco maintain their pursuit, the less sleep PL and his guys will get.



    The waking nightmare scenario for the Celtic executive is finishing the season with £30-40 Million in the bank and second in the league. It’s simply unconscionable. I guess they simply couldn’t spend the money this month. There’s no other rational explanation.



    In the round, Celtic are in a strong position and have a strong squad. That both might be stronger is a moot retrospect. We require good management now, trusting that proven process will deliver the expected results irrespective of the influence of luck or established antipathy.



    Strap in.

  14. Lawwell has shafted the support and manager again. The media onslaught on Lenny will be relentless —- we know who put him there and didn’t give support during this crucial window ( 2 projects don’t count ).



    Lawwell treats fans as bonus fodder and next 2 are secure. In fact Ten Bonuses in a Row is secure.



    Putting NIAR aside the lack of ambition / complacency is a joke. Club will never achieve what it is capable of under the Lawwell.

  15. The Battered Bunnet on




    Ajer isn’t a converted anything. He’s a kid learning the game at centre half.



    That he played further forward as a youngster at a lower level augurs well for his development.



    If his development continues along the expected trajectory, he’ll become a top player. For the moment he’s doing pretty well, and is merely ‘good’.

  16. CaddingtonCommon on

    We cannot continue to keep looking forward to the return of injured players. The squad is on a carousel at the moment and the expectation at the return of injured players is nullified by a crop of new injured players. Looking to the future is not the answer. Play for the present.



  17. Ronnie gave us Ajer. Ronnie also introduced Kieran Tierney and stuck by him. If we do secure 9 in a row, Ronnie’s contribution shouldn’t be forgotten.


    Rain’s aff, oot for a wee walk….

  18. Looked it up, yep Ronny gave McGregor his debut in Europe (he scored) then his league debut (which he also scored).

  19. Paul 67 et al,



    I think we were stronger with Scotty Sinclair in the squad. We struggled to replace him.



    Non football decision to let him leave before the summer.


    Most of us knew there was a goal scoring player there if we gave him game time. I really hope this decision does not bite us.




  20. TBB, best regards….. to the Ginger Ninja, returns,



    We have not EXACTly went All in.



    The fitba is alright.




    Respect 2u2.

  21. TBB



    As usual a very reasoned and rational post in the midst of a plethora of ‘hun trolls’ and pathetic ‘entitled’ so called supporters who would fit so well into the Rangers support of the late 80s and early 90s.



    One guy who seems to think winning 10 domestic trophy’s and 8 league titles is sackable really needs to get a wee bit of therapy !

  22. When I first discovered CQN all those years ago whe the real Rangers were about to implode it was a must read for every Celtic fan. Your articles were right on the pulse Paul . Rangers were forensically investigated , discussed and dissected on here……..and rightly so because they cheated us BIG TIME . I even remember an article you posted on here telling us that Regan would fall on his sword and probably Doncaster too because of the overwhelming evidence of cheating and corruption that was being revealed on a weekly basis . You were one of ( if not the top ) voice for us Celtic fans . Why you even supported Res 12 !!!! Fast forward 8 years or so and it is blatantly obvious that a light now needs to be shone on our club especially the actions ( or rather inactions ) of Pl and DD but it is met with a wall of silence . Wtf happened to you Paul ???? Your once excellent blog , your insights etc have now become a nothing more than soft pieces giving the Ok by the board. I honestly think you are being used by the board to lower our expectation levels . The one who will gently suggest that certain players may be on their way out ( KT) for instance . You could nt help yourself the other week by putting the boot into BR . Im as pissed of as every other fan about what BR did but no doubt PL had a lot to do with that but not a word against him . Like it or not BR took us to another level on the park and probably off it too . Maybe PL couldnt handle someone with an ego as big as his ? PL was a disgrace in the way he appointed Neil Lennon …..and Im not just talking about the shower scene. For a CEO to not even interview another candidate should have been reason enough for instant dismissal but the only person who could have done that was his pal PL. Our club is not being run correctly , a blind man can see this. We are in the middle of our 9 IAR season and we failed in the window , no other way to describe it but still you make excuses , or rather play it down . This Paul was the time to use our financial muscle to our advantage and greatly increase our chances of claiming title No.9 not cross our fingers and legs and hope we dont get too many new injuries and maybe get there in the end. Or are you in the Sandy Bryson school of thought that says having a financial advantage means nothing

  23. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on

    Alas , poor Paul `67.



    Can you keep your head while all around are losing theirs and blaming it on you ?



    Certainly hope so .

  24. Why does Soro have to ‘adjust to living in northern Europe’ – as I type it is 14C and raining in Tel Aviv, football pitches look the same everywhere and the rules only change for one team!



    There will be a lot of January signings playing this weekend, so why do our new guys always seem to wait until they’re eligible for the Pension to be used in a game?

  25. RODDYBHOY on 1ST FEBRUARY 2020 2:02 PM



    Outstanding post Sir. 👏👏👏



    Paul you were the one person I had a great respect for and always said I’m glad you’re one of us.



    When you look across the road they have Chris Graham a low life rancid scumbag, grandmastersuck and many more rancid lowlifes. What has happened to you Paul you are a decent guy but these latest puff pieces are laughable.



    Get your finger out your ar**e and start calling this board out.