Transfer window review (pull the curtains)


Those of us wanting to bury the memory of the January 2009 transfer window now have the opportunity.  Summer 2018 eclipsed not paying £4m for an injury-prone Hibernian striker, while capturing Willo Flood in what appeared to be a reluctant afterthought, by some distance.

To wonder where it started to go wrong, we have to look back at this January’s window.  Celtic knew Dedryck Boyata was about to enter the last year of his contract and had been unable to get him to sign a new deal.  An acknowledgement was made that this summer was the right time to sell him, so the priority for January was to acquire a direct replacement.

To this end, Marvellous Marvin Compper (then 32) was recruited from Leipzig, where he had been completely out of the picture, having suffered an injury last summer.  While Jack Hendry also joined the club in January, he was considered a player with development potential, it was believed Compper would slot straight into the role Boyata filled.

It took Brendan Rodgers 83 minutes to realise this was never going to be the case.  The player made two 45 minute appearances in the previous six months, the most recent in September, and was well short of what was required at Celtic.  Scouting opportunities must have been limited to reserve football, if that.

Having missed the target so badly in January we started this window playing catch-up.  Dedryck was denied a transfer to Fulham, which would have been accepted if Marvin was up to the task.  He is not the first Celtic central defender in recent years to declare himself unable to play because he wanted a move, but his agent threw the matter into the public domain.  The goals we lost against AEK will hang over the player.

Hibs John McGinn joined Aston Villa when Celtic thought he was coming here.  Brendan Rodgers made his displeasure known on the next three occasions he met the media, sparking a media feeding frenzy.  Unlike Boyata, McGinn would not have made a difference to our Champions League qualification campaign, but we are short for backup in his central midfield space.

Deadline day started with nothing more than a training session planned at Celtic but Moussa Dembele threw a strop.  Late the previous evening he used Twitter to imply he had been lied to, then liked a Tweet by Chris Sutton asserting he was having a go at the manager.  Ironically, and before witnesses, a few hours later he told the manager no one had lied to him.  We lost our best striker on deadline day without replacing him, and most fans were glad to see him off the premises.

Amid all of the angst, the almost forgotten fact is that this was the window we broke our transfer record fee for the first time in 18 years.  Odsonne Eduard arrived for £9m from PSG, but as he was here on loan last season, so not an enhancement to the squad.

We lost Stuart Armstrong and Patrick Roberts ended his multi-year loan.  Both played less prominent roles last season than earlier, so their departure will not weaken our first choice line-up, but limits options the manager has, when tactics, injuries and suspensions require a change.

Lewis Morgan arrived from St Mirren, while Daniel Arzani came in on a two year loan from Manchester City.  Hopefully one or both can fit into the Roberts role.  Youssouf Mulumbu was a player who begged the question, ‘How did he end up at Kilmarnock?’ last season.  The player looks the genuine article, and at 31, is younger than others who have arrived late in their career and excelled, but it remains to be seen if he can deliver for Celtic.

With central defence looking as vulnerable as we have seen it in years, Filip Benkovic arrived on loan from Leicester City.

By any measure, this was not a good transfer window.  Last season we were schooled in the Champions League, not just by PSG, but by Anderlecht, at home.  Granted, we outplayed Anderlecht in Belgium, but when the Belgians replaced their manager, they looked streets ahead.

My hope was that we would do a fair amount of trading.  Move on those who would produce high fees and acquire players who can immediately enhance the first team.  This did not happen and players like John McGinn would make no difference.

Progress in football is never linear.  We had two years of unparalleled domestic success and Champions League football, but are still largely playing with a squad Ronny Deila had.  Only Ntcham and Edouard were added to Sunday’s team by Brendan Rodgers.  In short, it is not only the last two windows we need to analyse critically, the squad stopped improving after Scott Sinclair arrived in 2016.

I am sure lessons have been learned at Celtic but doing something about it is not always straightforward.  Our scouting and recruitment resources do not match our Champions League ambitions.  My expectations are the wage bill will be eye-watering hits a new peak when we see the accounts, I don’t think we can safely overhaul the structure and, say, offer the £50k/week levels now standard in England, but there is money for transfer fees, as the accounts will also show.

Despite that critique of our scouting, we acquired Dembele, Edouard, Ntcham and Sinclair over a short period.  We have a model that works for us, but not this time.  It is perhaps a mercy that the Champions League music will be missing this season, as we are miles short of what is required.

Petrov v Milner

More positively, get along to see the Petrov Milner game on Saturday.  You can indulge in watching many of the greatest who have worn Celtic shirts over the last two decades.

And you get to support your Foundation.  Ticket’s here.

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  1. Interesting stuff, but it seems pretty unacceptable that the squad stopped improving two years ago. I hope the board – with the manager – will conduct a ‘warts and all’ review of transfer policy and activity ASAP.

  2. On the SFA and McGregor:



    A bit of history.



    The new Judicial Protocol was introduced in June 2011. It soldified a change in the Review Panel process in 2010 after Celtic Supporters at an Open Meeting in St Mary’s put forward a resolution to Celtic of no confidence in the SFA in general and the then Review process in particular.


    That process was that it was the match referee himself who decided if an incident should be referred to a Video Review Panel.



    Now had that system been in place today we would all be up in arms at Willie Collum deciding McGregor had no case to answer!



    However the current system still suffers from the lack of transparency that allows the SFA to get away with the murder of Scottish football.



    I commend this post on SFM by easyjambo where he sets out what should be done and if you feel strongly enough about the issue why not write to SFA CEO Ian Maxwell c c Celtic and take up the points made?




  3. Yeh pretty comprehensive – thanks Paul67.


    Interesting today; no room in pool for Master Arzani.


    Is this World Cup starlet not up to EL standards, or is Brendan making a point to PL that just becos we sign a Citeh project doesn’t mean BR feels obliged to play him? I still feel Morgan is currently more acomplished than Danny. Thoughts?


    Also tho, fair play to PL too, as his City links did find us Dedo, Olli, Wee Paddy and erm Guidetti beforehand.

  4. January now becomes a pretty important window for us it appears and I wonder if anything more radical than a ‘should do better’ stamp on the review.



    – Is Lee Congerton up to the job ?


    – How did Marvin get to us given some many checks and balances in place. Your summary reminds us how he looked a poor choice on record.


    – What are we doing on assembling such a wealth of players, with many kicking their heels – why is Allan and De Vries still here, what are we doing with Kouassi and Benyu and Ralston who look totally out of the picture ?



    Does the club intend communicating out to the fans a view of what we plan to do about it ?

  5. One of the pups in our group that goes to games says U21 dont need to be registered


    for EL.



    If true then Arzani “exclusion” and mud raking by press makes sense

  6. Hearing following on from Dicker of Killie last week Devlin of sheep



    was unsuccessful in his red card appeal.

  7. Paul 67


    Too many Smithers like comments in your blog in deference to your man Lawwell.


    Fletcher was not injury prone in 2008/2009..why do you think there was great interest in him at that time?


    So Peter getting you to put that wee add on in is ridiculous.


    I also see that you have dropped the Lawwell-spin of McGinn not signing because he would only be a squad player as you must know by now it was cringeworthy nonsense, although you make up with that by looking into your crystal ball and stating matter of factly that McGinn wouldn’t have made a difference against Athens, then later you say that McGinn wouldn’t make a difference.


    Gerry McSherry would be proud of your Lawwell defence,


    You make out this to be fact.


    Absolute nonsense.


    Did you put that in your header or did Lawwell do it himself?


    You then say that Armstrong and Roberts leaving doesn’t make a difference as they hardly played last season!!!


    Are you for real?


    They were injured for most of last season.


    Celtic were poor for large parts of last season owing to them being unavailable.


    They were fit for most of the season before that, and what a difference the football was in 2016/2017


    compared to the following season.


    I see you cleverly didn’t mention Lawwell dragging his feet over the right back that Brendan wanted to replace Lustig.


    Tell me Paul. have you ever, even once, thought that Lawwell has done anything that that isn’t completely correct in all the time he has been at Celtic, while working for the old board under the Kellys, Grants and Whytes, and under the new board?


    Anything at all, even something as simple as wearing the wrong tie with apartiular suit?

  8. prestonpans bhoys on

    There’s a link on video celts in which Marvin wishes to end his career with us, no wonder!

  9. The safety of our fans is the most crucial topic that Celtic must address. Bar none.



    We pride ourselves on being a family club and look to enhance our match day experience. Until we can be sure this crush will never happen again, parents will understandably think twice before taking their children to a game.



    Cages must be rattled and egos must be put aside. We must demand full transparency and guarantees that this can never be allowed to happen again.



    And my friends as many have pointed out , a wee bit of civility should be a pre requisite for any public body.



    HH to all.

  10. Paul 67


    I attended the AGM which followed the Stephen Fletcher debacle.


    I will never forget Lawwell saying to everyone,’Fletcher was not for sale to Celtic at any price!’


    It was a JFK moment.


    Lawwell should have been sacked after that comment.


    So Lawwell is saying that if Celtic had said, hypothetically, to Hibs, here is 10 million, Hibs would have said ‘no’!


    Instead of being honest, Lawwell told the AGM attendees a pile of manure.


    It showed the arrogance of him.

  11. prestonpans bhoys on 5th September 2018 1:19 pm



    There’s a link on video celts in which Marvin wishes to end his career with us, no wonder!




    Hmmm. To do that ole Marvin would first need to START his career with us, n’est-ce pas?




  12. AHAve Celtic complained yet a bout MCGregor? Why not? Out player was assaulted but SFA says its OK. Why do all clubs accept this? Dons player appeal rejected.. he never touched the Hamilton player!





    Fletcher was valued at £3m at the time,way too much,and I wouldn’t have paid that either.



    But at still only 21yo,he was hardly injury-prone. He had played over 150 games in the previous four seasons,and nearly 200 in total.



    At 21yo.

  14. P67



    You post a long article but tell us next to nothing.



    my thoughts are that you just do not get what we need to go forward beyond what your board contact tells you — nothing new as this has been the story of the past 12 years.



    After two years of BR in charge we were ready to take a big step forward.


    We knew where the gaps were and with a bit of skill and effort on the scouting front we should have been able to close them.



    Staring at the beginning — we are or we should be an investing club.



    We should spend more than we bring in — not during every window but the trend should be evident to reflect our desire to be a growing business and a serious force on the park.



    That means that we start to buy in the £10mill plus range on a regular basis.


    We should not be scared of such endeavour just a case that the world has moved on and we need to keep up — please no more excuses about the challenges we face being next door to the EPL.



    Our geographic position bring challenges but it also brings opportunities.


    To bang on about the problems and not the benefits would suggest that we have the wrong mindset in charge of the club.



    BR is ambitious and we need to make sure the rest of the business matches his desire.



    We have a model — a trading model — and I am happy with that.



    Just a case that 2 years should be a minimum with 4 years better and 6 years ideal. We should not be scared to offer a better contract after 2 years to individuals who have shown their worth and an extended stay would benefit the club. For example VW would have developed more if he had stayed longer. A new enhanced contract also brings a higher selling price when they leave. To the EPL our players are only worth what we pay them. low wages brings about low offers.



    This means that we will have churn but as we found out with MON certainty brings its own challenges and the stagnation takes a lot of shifting.



    This summer was a shambles for a number of reasons — we had a plan but we did not follow it through. Every failure can be traced back to the low rent abilities of our current CEO who tries to nickel and dime every offer to the annoyance of everyone else involved.



    Summer 2005 — the players were bought but 2 weeks too late.


    Summer 2006 — lets try youth and end up buying three big names at an average age of 28 and a half.


    Every transfer window is the same — just a case he finds news ways to muck it up.


    The only time PL spends money quickly is when it is done to wind up our friends in Govan. Too much ego involved, to much personality in our transfer dealings — he has to go. A job as our vice chairman might ease the pain but he has to go.



    His stupidity has caused the club to lose £100mill in revenue over the past 10 years.


    That takes some doing — you could have saved the TFOD with that level of funding.



    So we go forward with a few gaps in the squad but we still have quite a bit of class and we have new faces to introduce.



    LM — Interesting to see how he performs, very high hopes.


    FB — Lets see what £13mill buys you today as we might have to spend this tomorrow.


    MJ — Looks a bit immature and hesitant at the moment but he has the class.


    YM — Hope he gets a game, we need his type of ability and then some.


    ON — We might have to offer him £100K pw next season but he will be worth it.


    There will be a race between him and OE to find out who develops the most.


    EK — £1.8milll was a big price, talk of £2.8mill is incredible but we need to offer him some hope. Hopefully lessons will be learnt but we cannot or should not ignore him.



    JF — Last season was OK but last Sunday was incredible. Needs this every week.


    TR — Needs rest as his form has dropped off. WC would be a huge target to anyone but if he played with the help of injections then it didn’t work.


    JH — Give the guy a chance. He is as raw as sushi and he has had too much responsibility placed on his shoulders but he has a bit of character and some pace.


    SB — Needs rest, use him sparingly. High days and holidays only. We need to start planning for him not being in the team.


    CG — Same logic applies regarding succession planning.


    DB — Lets see how the next 4 months shape up.



    One other area that needs a huge amount of work is our youth set up.


    We have regressed badly over the past 2 years to the point that we don’t have recognised back up either at CB or CF.



    A few erses need to be booted both in the playing and coaching staff.

  15. P67



    As noted above your attempts to re-write history regarding SF are transparent as they are shameful.



    JMcG — we managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with that sorry episode.


    You suggest we would not have played him but look at the way we have started the season.


    No energy, no drive and no confidence across a number of games — AEK x 2 / Hertz.


    We have only managed to perk up when facing the challenge of TFOD2.1 about 6 weeks too late.



    Consequently lots of words but no honesty, understanding or vision.


    Bit like your board contact / Svengali.



    There’s a link on video celts in which Marvin wishes to end his career with us, no wonder!



    I thought he already had?

  17. Paul67



    Not a good window is the Celtic party line.



    Made worse on line by mass hysteria, which could have prolonged had BR not used and primed his assembled squad to the max despite the detractors to dispose of Sudova and Sevco.



    Glad BR has put on record that the window would be thoroughly reviewed, by everyone concerned at Celtic in possession of the facts and not just anecdotes from Owen Coyle’s granny.



    We must never hear in the future



    ‘What happened to the Dembele money.?’

  18. Pure speculation but I think KT was to blame for the summer shambles.


    When PL sent out his RFP to the agents of all our big names he was surprised by the results.



    The largest offer came back for KT not MD as expected — spending biggish money on OE is a bit of a giveaway.


    Bean counter does as bean counters do — KT has to go, the figures don’t lie.



    I think the plan was one big name out / three names in.


    Not sure how this fits with our CB situation but the SA money might have helped if we could find one.



    BR was probably on-side at that moment for someone to go but not KT where we were a bit thin.


    Consequently PL takes the huff and mucks about with his day job.



    And the rest as they say is history — £30mill of lost revenue history.

  19. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    I’d be interested to know your definition of “injury prone”, Paul.


    Steven Fletcher played over 30 league games in each of his final four seasons at Hibs.


    It’s true that Armstrong and Roberts didn’t make much of an impact last season, but our performances, wins and goals were all down. Maybe that tells you something.


    We are well covered in the Roberts “position”, but I think we will miss Armstrong’s running beyond the strikers and goals. Maybe Christie can contribute some of this if he gets more of a chance.


    January has to be MUCH better. We have to be ready for next year’s (hopefully) CL qualifiers.

  20. So Paul is able to say definitively that AEK goals hang over Boyatta. He may have made a difference but sadly the actually hang over my ageing favourite lustig and the promising Ajer.



    And given that we all knew he was highly unlikely to re-sign and Marvin wasnt Marvellous, why weren’t we prepped for that search to start on day 1 of the transfer window.



    Armstrong and Roberts not a loss?. Piffle. Their ‘loss’ was all too evident during their injuries last season.



    Squad player McGinn wouldn’t have made a difference? More crystal ball board apologist hot air.



    But at least there’s the retrospective solace that buying fletcher as the striker we were crying out for wouldn’t have secured us the league.



    Bud, you must walk like John Wayne with all these crystal balls!!!



    HH jg

  21. Are we really gonna spend all day arguing over Steven Fletcher?



    Even if the transfer was botched, the guy was absolute pants. Played his best football in the imagination of Celtic fans.

  22. Regarding the overcrowding in the Janefield Street tunnel — I think that there will need to be a lot of changes made to the routes within the CP area. Very close call on the back of a number of close call over the years so something needs to be done.



    The tunnel looks very narrow to safely deal upwards of 20K people trying to get in for an early kick off or out after a close game. Headroom looks limited to 5M or thereabouts so a mezzanine level will be difficult to install.



    Might be cheaper to spend some money on away support access and let us circulate freely around the stadium.

  23. An exercise in stating the obvious and spin.


    What about a critique of the roles of the main protagonists in the debacle, the CEO, the Head of Recruitment and the Manager, that would be of more interest?

  24. jamesgang on 5th September 2018 2:20 pm


    “So Paul is able to say definitively that AEK goals hang over Boyatta. He may have made a difference but sadly the actually hang over my ageing favourite lustig and the promising Ajer. ”



    We are a better team with Boyata. I agree that we were more likely to keep clean sheets against AEK with him in the team. He makes Lustig and Ajer look better players.




    “And given that we all knew he was highly unlikely to re-sign and Marvin wasnt Marvellous, why weren’t we prepped for that search to start on day 1 of the transfer window.”



    Paul is posing that question. It was a massive mistake either way.



    “Armstrong and Roberts not a loss?. Piffle. Their ‘loss’ was all too evident during their injuries last season.”



    He never said they weren’t a loss. He pointed out that they were useful options but didn’t start for Celtic. Even when fit.



    “Squad player McGinn wouldn’t have made a difference? More crystal ball board apologist hot air. ”



    I personally don’t think dropping Brown or Ncham for McGinn would have been the difference.



    “But at least there’s the retrospective solace that buying fletcher as the striker we were crying out for wouldn’t have secured us the league. ”



    Steven Fletcher isn’t very good.

  25. bournesouprecipe on 5th September 2018 2:13 pm


    ‘ I hope to finish my career at Celtic’




    Marvin Compper






    I think it’s fair to say his career finished before he came to Celtic!

  26. jamesgang on 5th September 2018 2:20 pm


    I did laugh at that. I’d say 2 of the 3 AEK goals were as a direct result of Lustig being unable to do one of the basics for a full back, cut out a cross. Everything after that is irrelevant if the ball doesn’t come into the box.


    Maybe that’s why the manager wanted a right back, and thought he had one, before the player went elsewhere for whatever reason you want to believe.

  27. My biggest problem in this window Paul was the way that the central defense problem was mishandled.



    So it was known/planned that Boyata would be sold in this window and that Compper would replace him.


    After Compper’s very first game, the hunt for a replacement (given future/development role only for Hendry) should have started. This should have taken on higher priority (if that’s possible) given Jozo’s injury & discipline problems.



    We had the money and should have had a replacement experienced Centre Back right at the strat of the window.



    Mistakes can and will be made (Compper) but hard to accept lack of planning.

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