Over the weekend, I heard Ronny Deila telling the press that a number of Celtic fringe players would remain at the club through the transfer window, which opens in just over a week.
I hadn’t expected such a firm commitment to keeping players at our club who aren’t going to get games.
There isn’t a single Celtic supporter I know who thinks Anthony Stokes has a future at Celtic Park.
We’ll never know for sure, but had he not made his now famous series of tweets, which got him into trouble with the club hierarchy, I suspect that most of us would have simply put him out of our minds entirely, as the manager looked to have put him out of his.
He’s not the only one.
Scott Allan is stagnating on the Celtic bench. Callum McGregor is only back in the side because of injuries and there are a number of top talents in our youth setup who would benefit more from a little first team action than they will in a thousand games in the Development League.
All this is self-evident.
Here’s what I think; there are clubs one league below us who are engaged in a fierce battle for the Championship title. One of them has a manager who once played for us and they already have one of our players on the books. That limits Hibs to taking one more, but I am sure they wouldn’t say no if we were to offer them their pick of our bench warmers.
Falkirk don’t currently have any of our players on loan, and the idea that they would thumb their nose at taking a couple is a little ridiculous.
Like Hibs, they once employed a certain Tony Stokes and their fans would have no objections to his making a return.
As Stokes’ tweet made abundantly clear, he doesn’t want to sit and collect wages for nothing; he would rather be out on the pitch, as every player would. There is no way in Hell he would say no to a return to one of the two clubs he played for in Scotland before us.
There was talk last season of Griffiths going back to Easter Road; that was knocked on the head because he was a valuable member of the first team squad, and we were fortunate in that because he soon proved just how important he was. Stokes is already halfway out the door.
There are other clubs in that league who could take on a few of our fringe players.
Morton have a number of ex-Celt’s there already and then there’s Queen of the South, Raith Rovers, St Mirren … you get the picture.
These teams would also jump at the chance to blood our kids or to help us offload some of the guys who’re taking up space.
Do we want to simply release players on free transfers because they’re not needed, or do we want to at least give them games and earn nominal fees for them?
Do we want our young players to develop only so far and then break down because they’re unable to progress further?
Or do we want to get them experience and games in a real competitive environment?
Well the Championship is a fine league to do that in.
Of course, I’m not going to pretend, not even for one second, that I have altruistic motives here.
Everything I’ve said above is about what the benefits would be to Celtic, so pretending that this is only about doing favours for other clubs … I won’t even kid you on that score.
My motives here are purely selfish, and that’s before I even go into the obvious final one.
Sevco are weak at the moment, in their squad but also in their mentality.
Alan Stubbs has the man with the magic hat (haha) rattled, and the stench of fear out of Ibrox is unbelievable, manifesting itself as talk of how they need a couple of new players to guarantee they’ll be successful.
Kenny Miller is in the papers today saying with some signings the team will find the spark!
Sevco fans must be in despair reading that.
Miller is saying the squad isn’t good enough as it stands right now and that everyone in Ibrox knows it.
What does that do to dressing room morale?
What kind of message is that to send to the guys in the stands?
Their wage bill is something like five or six times that of Hibs and Falkirk … and all you ever hear from their people in the press is about how they need to spend more in order to “guarantee” success. This is cheque book football management, pure and simple.
This is a club which exists only on soft loans actually contemplating spending more money they don’t have because their master manager isn’t up to the task of winning promotion with the expensive team he already has.
At a time when they are staggeringly vulnerable, at a time when they seem a couple of bad results away from a soul-rending crisis of confidence, the idea that we should pass up any opportunity that presents itself to stick in the boot … this is a no-brainer.
So come on Peter Lawwell and Ronny Deila; get it together as far as who’s in the manager’s plans goes and then find clubs for those aren’t going to play at Celtic Park.
We already have loan players at clubs in Scotland. A couple – Michael Duffy, at Alloa, and, of course, Liam Henderson already play in lower league football … but there are a lot of other very fine players at Parkhead who are available and who could make a real difference to clubs in the second tier.
If even one of those guys goes out on loan and scores a goal that shaves points off Warburton’s team and that pushes them from first to second or second to third … well, that’s a job well done.
Dare I say that this doesn’t just have short-term benefits?
If Sevco flounders this season and remains stuck in the second tier, whatever plan there was will not survive the carnage that follows.
As an actual strategy for our club to pursue, sending Sevco the way of Rangers would be a distraction from the things that really matter. I prefer to think of us operating to an agenda that has sod all to do with them or what state they are in, but that’s not say that opportunities to advance that goal shouldn’t be exploited if they present themselves.
This is one such moment.
We ought to be grabbing it with both hands.