Transfer window assessment


For Celtic, summertime business is every bit as important as the more traditional cup finals and league deciders held later in the season.  We face qualifers for Champions League or Europa League group stage, which define our financial health and desirability as a potential employer.

The most important achievement was recorded on Wednesday when we qualified for the Champions League, but now we’re there, how prepared will we be?

Seven players left the squad, Daryl Murphy,  who had already spent two years out on loan, Thomas Rogne and Paddy McCourt, who rarely saw first team action last season, and Tony Watt, who seems to be less effective than he was in the opening weeks of last season, and is now out on loan.

More importantly, Gary Hooper, Kevlin Wilson and Victor Wanyama all left, three players who were instrumental in our European victories last season.

Hooper is a textbook big game player who scored home and away against Spartak Moscow but he missed the home win over Barcelona and scarcely got a sniff of the ball home and away to Benfica, or in the Camp Nou, where his role as a penalty box poacher was less effective.

Kelvin Wilson had a disappointing first season at Celtic but as last season progressed there was a noticeable rise in appreciation of his talents.  He had an exemplary Champions League campaign.

Victor Wanyama was the most effective central midfield player Celtic have had for some considerable time.  We saw little of Roy Keane at Celtic but in Wanyama, you could see a player with the potential to go as far in the game.  He is young and still has lots to add to his game, concentration, for a start, but we saw him grow from a place on the substitutes’ bench to a £12m player in 18 months.

It surprised a few that Victor (along with Gary) went to a team often found at the wrong end of England’s top flight, but he is still potential.  The acclaim he received at Celtic is similar to that bestowed on Liam Miller nine years ago, whose Champions League performances were breath-taking.  I still can’t fathom what happened to Miller but I hope Victor continues to improve; if he does, he could appear in the Camp Nou as a home player.

21-year-old Israeli central midfielder Nir Biton looks like a straight replacement for Wanyama.  I don’t know enough about any of the new recruits yet to put my name to them but on paper, Nir works.  At 6’5” he continues our current tradition of signing players born to shoot hoops, as well as wear them.  A trial at Manchester City fell apart amid a diplomatic incident involving his nationality.  He was going to make a move to a Champions League team at some point and, for the player, Celtic will look like an excellent option.

There was a moment during THAT game at Fir Park in 2005 when Craig Bellamy tore up the turf with the ball before looking up for someone to accept his cross, only to throw his arms up in frustration that there was no one in the box.  Having one fast player is just not effective.

We’ve had pace-merchant James Forrest for a few years but we don’t play a speed-based game to suit his talents.  With fellow-sprinter Derk Boerrigter also in the team now one of the things I know Celtic were looking for in a striker was pace, which is what I expect to see from Teemu Pukki.

Much of our Champions League game will be about playing counter-attacking football so we have to recruit for this model.

Teemu has been playing a supporting role for Schalke since they played against him, then signed him, from HJK Helsinki two years ago, but we have not had a striker who could claim a regular starting place in that company in nine years.  He is another one who, on paper, works for me.

Amido Balde has been given some protection from too much responsibility and exposure to allow him to settle into the club, city and language, Celtic is a lot different from Vitoria Guimaraes.  I heard that, like Wanyama during his first season, he’ll be allowed to settle into life as a Celtic player.

Virgil van Dijk was simply delicious against Dundee United yesterday.  He has height, build, speed, can run with the ball and can pass.  Build a defence around him.  Steven Mouyokolo is one of those gambles managers like to take on players, who were once lauded but have had injury or other blemishes on their record.  Most don’t work but we’ll soon find out if Steven has overcome his injury problems.

Derk Boerrigter has skill and pace.  He is another one recruited with Champions League football in mind (not to face 10 defenders in the SP), a competition he has already performed well in for Ajax.

The comment was made to me that the players coming in were uninspiring compared to the three key players who left but while I could contest that, there doesn’t seem much point.  We recruited Hooper and Wilson from the lower leagues in England, and Wanyama as a teenager from a small Belgian club.  It’s not what you know about a player when he signs that counts……..

For years we have been encouraging Celtic to scout better markets and find value.  They have been doing this to great effect in recent seasons.  The gap between where we were last season and one stage further in the Champions League was enormous.  To bridge it will take a while during which time we need to make every pound work.

Enjoy the ride.

Tomorrow we’ll talk money.  In short, while I blogged a couple of weeks ago illustrating the circa £17m operational gap we have before Champions League or player trading income (i.e. we are not a rich club), notions that we are anywhere near being a poor club is laughable.
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  1. Auldheid


    16:28 on


    1 September, 2013


    Snake Plissken


    16:12 on


    1 September, 2013


    No Celtic fan wants to see Celtic lose a game.



    What we want is simple – win football matches and trophies, do as well in Europe as possible AND get players on the park worthy of the name of the club and who will entertain and score goals.



    Have those things been met?



    Finance is important. Managing your team properly is important.



    It is not the reason we watch football




    No but it goes a long way in having football to watch. Get it wrong and you end up watching worse football in lower divisions.



    What I do not understand after yesterday’s win is the feeling that we are weaker than last season.



    Against a hard working Dundee Utd side at Tannadice, after a tough CL midweek game, we came away with 3 points and played well overall.



    Ok one swallow n that but I watched some poorer performances at CP last year after or before a midweek CL fixture. So one that evidence we are not weaker.

  2. VP KO'd by fearless Oscar Knox on

    Saw a post earlier saying the happy clappers owe the mineshafters an apology..


    here is mine…….!!!!!!!!SWIVEL ON IT!!!!!!!!!


    Have a nice day :O)

  3. Very good performance and result yesterday.


    Big Virgil, Efe and ML all excellent.




  4. kevinlasvegas Supporting Wee Oscar Knox on

    Good Read Paul67, I like you believe we have shopped smart, shopped S Mart. Neil has an SPL team and 6 players for the CL.





  5. Celtic Trust Members’ Meeting


    Published on Sunday 1st September, 2013 by Celtic Trust



    Notice of Meeting



    There will be a general meeting of the members of the Celtic Trust on Monday 2nd September in the Celtic Supporters Club, London Road at 7pm.



    Apologies for the short notice to but we were a wee bit distracted last week……, can’t think why!



    Non-members are welcome to attend although in the event of a ballot only paid up members will be eligible to vote.



    Come along and find out more about the Trust and how we represent Celtic supporters.

  6. VP KO'd by fearless Oscar Knox on

    Never thought I would be so glad to hear my beloved missus tell me ” You’re no


    gone oot the night”



    Where’s the beer?

  7. I would have liked to have seen left back cover and another striker coming in – but we don’t always get everything we want. We have signed a number of good looking young players – although we won’t know exactly what we have for a few months yet.



    There are exciting times ahead, especially in this year’s European adventure.

  8. kevinlasvegas Supporting Wee Oscar Knox on

    Spurs very poor. AVB is proving to be not so special, Spent mega money as well.





  9. Auldheid



    Here’s where Celtic are weaker – goals.



    Defense and midfield is ok.



    Yesterday there were much endeavour with little cutting edge. How many might we have won by yesterday with Hooper up there?



    Hypothetical I know but we have no strikers who header the ball with regularity and only Stokes has a record of consistent goal scoring.



    For the record I think we’ll have a decent season but there is a lack of a player who’ll get you off your feet. Derk looked like he didn’t fancy the battle – not a good sign but it is early days yet.



    Low scoring forwards don’t excite anyone.

  10. kevinlasvegas Supporting Wee Oscar Knox on

    Yeah Watt is a strange one it means that even when desperate Neil still wasn’t going to play him and hence why he is on loan for a while. Attitude not good is what I’ve heard, Neil doesn’t need disharmony with so many new players coming in. So Balde must be going to get more game time and i take it the Project will be getting fast tracked.




  11. Paul67……….a true assessment of where we are…me


    I’m happy, but it has to be said lot’s on here are not.

  12. VP KO'd by fearless Oscar Knox on

    kevinlasvegas Supporting Wee Oscar Knox


    16:35 on


    1 September, 2013


    Spurs very poor. AVB is proving to be not so special, Spent mega money as well.




    klv ,your post does not compute….everyone knows ..throw money at a football


    team,success is guaranteed. hh

  13. kevinlasvegas Supporting Wee Oscar Knox on

    I think Neil will be expecting goals from Virgil (chances yesterday), Derk,Pukki, Sammi, Forrest, KC to help Stokes and Blade. I amazes me why we don’t shoot more from MD, Joe and Brown can skelp a ball.




  14. I think Pukki can be a big player for Celtic. Completely agree that it is not about what we know about players coming in. Majority of people had never heard of Larsson when he signed.. or the £12m Wanyama so people need to be optimistic and get behind the new signings instead of slating the board for not splashing out 5/6m. I see Boerrigter as a big player for the european games and van Dijk could be a great replacement for Wilson at the back

  15. Snake Plissen



    Agree on Derk.



    Stokes was 1ft from being a two goal scorer with his volley and VVD was the same distance from getting on the scoresheet.



    Get out of your seat players are hard to come by and I look forward to finding out if we have got one amongst the new guys.

  16. Steinreignedsupreme on

    James Forrest is praying for The Unconquerable Oscar Knox 16:02 on 1 September, 2013



    There have been four organisations who have attempted to use Lee Rigby’s death for their own twisted agenda – The English Defence League (sic), the British National Party, the Ulster Volunteer Force and Sevco fans.



    Desperate stuff from stupid people.

  17. 79 Caps



    Indeed but an out and out goalscorer is needed now at Celtic.



    Stokes will hit 20 plus at Celtic this season.



    Who else will?



    Commons could



    The others?

  18. Paul67:



    I have mixed feelings about the Players that we have brought in,some have already shown signs that they will contribute immensely to the team. Derk I think will be a Player like Naka in that he will be more effective at Celtic Park. They will all get my support.



    Where I am disappointed is in the failure to bring in a proven goal scorer and cover for the Left Back position who knows what happened to the Buttner deal. Pukki could prove me wrong but a goal scorer he is not in my opinion.



    Still I suppose we have until tomorrow to pick up a couple of free agents. Riise I believe will be freed if he can find a Club.



    Keep the Faith!



    Hail Hail!

  19. kevinlasvegas Supporting Wee Oscar Knox on

    VP KO’d by fearless Oscar Knox



    lol yeah, Everyone knows making teenagers millionaires is the best way to nurture their talent. It doesn’t ruin them or waste their appetite. EPL is trying to ruin the game and the PR team down south are cringe worthy. They talk their game up so much, they are the antithiusis of our Media who kick the crap out of our game every chance they get.




  20. good afternoon cqn



    Got my Champions league music on my Phone,Mrs WT has warned me not to have it ringing when her brother is visiting, or in his company,I will think about it,on second thoughts………..


    Paul 67 very goood post again,agree with all.

  21. Auldheid



    I hope Biton becomes a great Celtic player.


    Pukki might be great to watch.



    I would have hoped someone from our youth set up could step up and entertain and make an impact in the team – Paul George or Filip Twardzik perhaps?



    Celtic are predictable to play against for most SPFL teams especially if Forrest, Samaras or possibly Derk have a bad game. I’m looking at this as a season of slog because the opposition won’t attack us. They’ll sit in and we lack players to break them down as I see it.



    I’m hoping Rogic steps up this season but we’re a terribly left sided team.



    Our defensive side as a team works fine and will serve us well in Europe against our opponents but it’s the creative side I worry about.

  22. 16 roads - Wee Oscar the Celtic warrior. on

    No interest in any of them any more.



    They’re gone,and that’s it.



    It’s their loss.

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