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LEGEND URGES CELTIC TO BRING IN ‘QUALITY’ STARS

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MURDO MacLEOD insists Celtic should follow the Rangers example of 1998.

The former Hoops and Scotland midfielder was Wim Jansen’s assistant boss as the Parkhead men derailed the Ibrox club’s hopes of an unprecedented 10-in-a-row in season 1997/98.

It was a glorious achievement after a decade in the title wilderness, but the joy was dimmed when the Dutch gaffer left Parkhead a couple of days later after masterminding the championship breakthrough while also adding the League Cup.

The response from Govan to Celtic’s resurgence was swift as Dick Advocaat replaced Walter Smith in the dug-out and brought in fellow-Dutchmen Arthur Numan, Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Michael Mols as he went into overdrive reshaping the squad.

He hit the ground running and led the expensively-reconstructed team to the treble in his debut campaign.

Celtic, following a massively disappointing term, face an identical scenario with a summer of upheaval beckoning on and off the pitch.

A new manager is required after the departure of Neil Lennon a fortnight ago, the club are seeking a Director of Football and Peter Lawwell will step down from the chief executive role he has held for 18 years to make way for Dominic McKay in June.

Unfortunately, MacLeod admits he sees no signs of a carefully-orchestrated plot for his old club to set about rectifying a dire situation in double-quick time.

The former engine-room powerhouse said: “Dick Advocaat was a top manager already knowing he was coming into the job and trying to sign players he’d worked with.

“There was a really strong side getting put together. That’s got to happen at Celtic.

“Celtic have got to make sure they bring in players of better quality. That’s where they possibly let themselves down this year, spending a lot of money, but very few signings turned out top class.

“I’m sure Wim versus Dick would’ve been an interesting challenge back then, but we never found out.

“Anyone who knows Wim, once he makes up his mind that’s it. Obviously, I spoke to him many times about staying on and I wasn’t alone.

“Other coaches and players were desperate for him to stay because he’d brought so much to the club.

“We worked so hard to get that team together and got stronger and stronger as the year went on.”

Friction between Jansen and general manager Jock Brown was ever-present and Davie Hay also left near the end of the campaign after a series of head-to-head confrontations with the former BBC man, who, ironically, was relived of his duties by Fergus McCann the following year.

Remarkably, Celtic didn’t appoint Jansen’s replacement, Dr Jozef Venglos, until mid-July.

They were on the back-foot throughout and paid a heavy price as they dithered in their reactions to what was happening across Glasgow.

MacLeod reckons things started to go awry for his old club this time around when an exasperated Lennon admitted, in the wake of Champions League defeat to Ferencvaros, that some stars wanted out.

The former coach, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “That was strange to hear and it rang alarm bells. At a club like Celtic you’ve got to give your all – then good things happen to you for a reason.

“I know the spirit that’s needed to win. The worst thing when you hear what Neil said is that it spreads.

“The bad vibe comes from guys who want to move on to where they could make more money. And it puts a wee negative in even the minds of guys who love it at Celtic.

“They start to think a different way that they, too, could move. But you can’t go to many bigger clubs with better supporters.”

MacLeod looks to 21-year-old David Turnbull, a £2.25million arrival from Motherwell in the summer, as one positive sign for the future.

The ex-Borussia Dortmund star, who also had managerial stints at Partick Thistle and Dumbarton, added: “Celtic must bring in types similar to Turnbull who works so hard, is looking for goals and will only get better.

“Celtic need players with his attitude, particularly in the middle of the park. Because elsewhere they’ve really struggled.

“Too many signings have been in and out the team and found it difficult being a Celtic player.”

The Hoops faithful are standing by with a frenzy of activity expected at Parkhead in the forthcoming crucial months.

 

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