As Neil Lennon sits patiently by the Keano phone in the bhoy cave in walks his commanding officer. Peter Lawwell cuts an impressive figure as he approaches the Irishman, his Armani suit fits perfectly and the only creases in view are on his tanned brow. His bejeweled outstretched hand takes the envelope marked ‘Top Secret names’ from Lennon’s desk. Lawwell looks at his young agent sternly and reminds him “this is for Dermot Desmond’s eyes only”. We cut for the intro sequence then…the entire show stumbles on in a predictable fashion until…
The envelope was returned to sender at around 10pm, marked ‘January 2011’
See you were all excited for some fancy blogging there eh, I was too then just like the PLC I downsized…
The shape and intent of our entire season could well have been played out in the those 24 hours, the plot has been laid bare to all involved, the cast has been handed their script, there can now be no more failures. It is time to go to war (with what we have).
I’ve written at length recently about how I would feel let down by the club if we don’t strengthen significantly in this transfer window. I’ve softened my point of view from that stance slightly. With European involvement now confined to the archives for another year did we really need that big name signing the support were crying out for?
I’m no longer sure that we did from a footballing sense but if the message-boards represent the mood of a large section of the support it could be a critical mistake for public relations.
Lets look at the football side of things first.
So far in the Neil Lennon revolution we have been unbeaten in the SPL, humiliated by Ross County & embarrassed on our travels in Europe. The axe has fallen on some already with McManus, Naylor and Fortuné relieved of their duties, hopefully more of the deadwood will follow in January. Boruc and McGeady left for business reasons and with them out walked the door arguably our two best players. Some fringe players have also gone for monitory gains, Caddis, Ferry & Sheridan. While McGowan, O’Dea and Thompson have all gone on loan as their chances at Celtic Park would now appear to be limited. Lets not forget Hinkel is already a loss for the season after suffering a bad injury, I suspect though this is more a loss to the money men than the manager.
So we needed to completely rebuild the hoops, players of a certain quality and temperament would be acquired, we were told so at the Lennon & Lawwell roadshows. So who did we bring in?
Fraser Forster – Norwich’s player of the year and the English Championships ‘Golden Glove’ winner, without Europe he has stepped down a level to the SPL lets not kid ourselves about that. Cha Du Ri has looked good and he’s looked bad, alarm bells are ringing with me slightly but only in the distance. Charlie Mulgrew came in to be back up to another left back in the shape of Honduran international Izaguirre. Charlie was poor and was slaughtered by some, ridiculously & shamefully so. Izaguirre looks promising but its still far to early to tell if he has solved Celtic’s Achilles heel. The imposing figure of Danny Majstorovic has been added to the centre of defence to bring some much needed steel and experience.
All good at the back? Maybe, although I’d still have liked to have seen another defender brought in. Curtis Davies & Kelvin Wilson were the names being floated on deadline day. We of course got neither.
In the middle of the park out with the Utrecht debacle, Juarez & Kayal have been impressive with the latter being the only player that came close to pass marks in Holland. While Juarez has already scored as many as our midfield combined last season and is heading for cult status with the fans. In Joe Ledley we have another player in the engine room who looks very assured and I’m positive will blossom into a top bhoyo in the months ahead. Captain Brown is hanging in there by the skin of his teeth, but for how much longer. Rumours were Birmingham wanted to do business involving a swap deal for James ‘some players are born to play for Celtic’ McFadden (quote Neil Lennon). Alex McLeish sobered up and this deal didn’t happen.
Without Robbie Keane the onus for the fans in this window was always going to be on the strikers. We had to strengthen this department. Daryl Murphy arrived and duly scored on his first start from the penalty spot at the weekend. I don’t see the Irishman as anything other than back up or as the player that gives us the long ball option. Number 88 (I love this) Hooper has found himself out injured after a promising pre season but he looks like a natural goalscorer of the poacher variety. He’s a starter no doubt but who will he partner?
Welcome to Paradise Anthony Stokes! The Dubliner completed his £1.2m switch yesterday from Hibs after completing our only bit of business on deadline day. I need to comment on some of the comments that have been made about last seasons 22 goal hit-man. I’ve read he has done nothing at a higher level, thats OK we’re not playing anywhere other than the SPL this season, box ticked. He cost half the money we received for MAF and scores twice as many goals, box ticked. He’s Irish, box ticked for some. The biggest gripe seems to be “he turned us down before and doesn’t deserve a second chance” why? What loyalty did Anthony Stokes owe us as an Arsenal player on loan at Falkirk? We offered him a deal, Sunderland gave him a better one. We offered him SPL (which nobody tires of putting down) and Sunderland provided EPL. We had Gordon Strachan in charge, Sunderland had Roy Keane and don’t underestimate how much of a draw that would have been to a young Irishman alone. If somebody offered you a job with possibly double or even triple the wages you were being offered elsewhere, bearing in mind you owe these companies nothing. What would you do? Aye don’t lie to yourself, move on people.
So there you have it, 11 new players brought in and you could argue that 8 or 9 of them will be regular faces in the first eleven.
We’re still not happy though are we and the board and their promises of spending is the cause. They said we would invest all the McGeady money, all the transfer money received would be made available to Lennon (£17m in we spent £8.5m give or take minimal amounts on both figures, these figures also don’t take into account wage reductions). They ignited the hopes and dreams of the fans with our public pursuits of Bellamy and to a lesser extent James, Campbell & Bullard. We have never denied publicly we could get Robbie Keane and this along with those other names have the fans in no mood for excuses this time around.
Robbie Keane was the big prize though whether we really needed him to win the SPL or not. Keano is the man the support see as being in touching distance and would have reinvigorated the masses after last weeks disaster. The captain of Ireland would be the captain of Celtic. That in itself is poetic.
Even the supporter who on the outside was telling everyone that there is no chance Keane will come, that the finances are all wrong and could have damaging consequences. The same fan was saying we should be good enough to romp home with what we have. Yes he’s saying all of this on the outside…but…on the inside like every single one of us he was hoping for another night of drama in the Celtic Park car park as our ‘special player’ stepped through the glass doors at 5 minutes to midnight, whether it was to be Robbie Keane or an other. We got nothing. Even right up until around 11pm I was still hoping we would pull something out the bag, a loan signing that would give us the edge this season in both quality and psychological.
In summary all the rumours, all the deadline day fantasy, all the empty promises and green moonbeams are confined to the past. We MUST now get behind Neil Lennon and his hoops no matter if we feel injustices and hard done by, by the PLC. Thats not to say I’m not bitterly disappointed, I am. It’s not so much we didn’t get what we wanted or even what we needed to battle for the SPL title (and it will be a tough fight). We didn’t get what we were promised and hence expected. They don’t care how we feel, they never have and they never will. I’ve accepted the fact now that we are nothing more than an SPL side and I suggest you do the same. I am happy with the team we have but still feel let down at the same time. It could have been better. I for one will never believe another word uttered from the lips of Peter Lawwell.
On the other hand its only 16 weeks until Robbie Keane arrives in January…every good show deserves a good cliffhanger after all…