How was the transfer window for you? The perceived negatives: we didn’t sign particularly experienced players and we only signed one striker. We also lost the best central defender we’ve had in years.
The positives: we recruited the first on the list defensive (Simunovic) and striking (Ciftci) targets, so we were not scrambling around for literally anyone (Scepovic) on the final day of the window. There were a few experienced, Samaras-types on offer, but the decision was taken to stick to plan.
The first issue I raised was about the striker headcount. We could have brought in any one of a number of players, but forget Fletcher or Michu, we’re not talking that calibre. The waifs and strays we’ve churned through since 2012: Lassad, Miku, Bangura, Scepovic, Guidetti have been a considerable waste of money and opportunity.
An overhaul of process took place for striker assessment, no one would be brought in without new levels of assessment and aptitude. The was an acceptance that we are light in headcount but options available in recent days convinced no one they would be better than Scepovic, and the club were happy to cut him loose. The squad needs focus, fewer passengers and space for our own youths, not just Dundee United’s, to break through.
Although his start at Celtic has been considerably hampered, Ciftci met the criteria. He was watched extensively and the manager knows what role he wants him to play. We’ll see if he proves to be more effective when he returns to the team, hopefully fully fit, after the international break.
Lack of experience has inhibited us and there are certainly experienced players we could have brought in for the money spent on Simunovic. Would this help short-term with the forthcoming Europa League campaign?
From here, it feels like it would, but a team development decision was made. Recruitment criteria is to bring in players capable of reaching the highest levels of the game. Get them in, get them playing the same way together. Recruit late-teens, early-20s and build a team. We can afford players who may have genuine talent at that age.
A year ago, when we were recruiting to replace Neil, I asked for a student of the game who could plan like this; improve players and build a team. I also wanted a striker yesterday, not a Scepovic, of course, just someone Champions League-ready. There’s no question that we have to plan like this, or that the hemorrhage on bench-material strikers has to stop. And I suspect the Champions League-ready bit might be a shot in the dark.
If the plan works, it’s going to take time and a bit of patience (aye, I know, patience, you don’t need to tell me). Other plans are available, therein lies the joy of team management.
Over to you now, Ronny. Show us some of that awesomeness we read about.
I’m going to write later on the business over the city, if only because I’m itching to run an article with the headline:
Green, Whyte and Gaol-d © CQN.