FORMER Celtic star Kris Commons has slammed the “scandalous neglect” of the recruitment arm of the Parkhead club.
The champions’ bid for the historic tenth successive title is in grave danger of being knocked off course before the turn of the year after yesterday’s disappointing 1-1 draw with St Johnstone at Parkhead.
Neil Lennon’s struggling side have won only twice in their past 12 outings in all competitions and are 13 points adrift of Steven Gerrard’s Ibrox outfit although they still possess two games in hand.
The club invested heavily in the summer in bringing in goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas, £4.5million from AEK Athens, striker Albian Ajeti, £5million from West Ham and midfielder David Turnbull, £2.5million from Motherwell, while arranging expensive loan deals for defenders Shane Duffy (Brighton), Diego Laxalt (AC Milan) and attacker Mohamed Elyounoussi (Southampton).
In the January transfer window at the turn of this year, the Parkhead side also splashed £5.5million on striker Patryk Klimala and anchorman Ismaila Soro.
However, Commons, a former Lennon signing from Derby County in January 2011, has not been impressed by the calibre of his old club’s purchases that have seen Scotland’s title kings toil at home and abroad in what was billed as a monumental season.
Commons, writing in his Daily Mail column, said: “Fans are entitled to ask how did it come to this? How can things have soured so badly to the extent that a club legend like Lennon is being hounded out the door?
“The board have to shoulder a large share of responsibility. They are as culpable as anyone. They’ve been asleep at the wheel in recent seasons and are now paying the price for their complacency.
“The recruitment has been absolutely abysmal. It’s not that Celtic haven’t spent money. They have spent plenty. It’s how they’ve spent it that’s been the problem.
“This season has seen them fork out a £2million loan fee for Shane Duffy, with a hefty pay packet to boot. A combined £10million was spent on Vasilis Barkas and Albian Ajeti.
“None of them looks up to scratch. Who sourced these players? There has to be some accountability in the recruitment department.
“That’s been the problem at Celtic for far too long. Too many players signed for decent money who just patently aren’t good enough.
“Boli Bolingoli. Patryk Klimala. Ismaila Soro. Vakoun Bayo. Going back to my own time at the club, you had the likes of Derk Boerrigter being signed for £3million.
“Sure, they’ve occasionally hit the jackpot with the likes of a Virgil van Dijk, a Moussa Dembele or even a Victor Wanyama.
“But the club have also signed a fair amount of dross in the same period. The recruitment side of the club has been in a state of decay and disrepair for years.
“And in modern football, recruitment is everything. The model for clubs like Celtic is obvious – buy low, sell high.
“That’s how to market yourself to new, exciting young players. If they join the club and give two or three years of good service, they’ll get a big move like Van Dijk, Wanyama or Dembele.
“Celtic’s recent transfer market record shows scandalous neglect on an industrial scale. Ultimately, the board have to carry the can for that.”