So the transfer window has shuts, and Celtic fans, and the manager got one completed deal, the one we knew about all day, the one for the striker Odsonne Edouard.
Did we even try to sign a centre back?
It appears not.
Let me say this; I am not completely gutted by this window, and I have been in years gone by. Our transfer business amounts to five signings, two of them on loan and one a long term prospect. Of the others, one is an SPL player, Jonny Hayes.
The other is Oliver Ntcham, who I think will be a fantastic footballer.
Let me tell you right now that both loans are quality players and the possibility exists of buying one or both of them at the start of the next campaign. I have no arguments with either. Had we brought in a centre back, even on a short term deal, I would have been far more enthused, because the transfer business has not been bad … but it is way short of what we had anticipated when the window opened.
What is unforgivable is that gaping holes have gone unfilled.
When Rivaldo Coetzee was announced I was concerned, for two reasons.
First, we were clearly not buying someone who was going to be “first team ready” although he was being purchased with the first team in mind. Secondly, the suspicion exists that had that deal gone through someone in the current squad would have been off.
In my view that would have left us weaker at the back, primarily because a major settling in period would have been required for our new player.
When that deal collapsed I feared the worst.
The pitiful effort to sign Jason Denayer was the surest sign we were ever going to get that, shockingly, there was no backup plan. That had panic written all over it, and when I read Sviatchenko say yesterday afternoon that he was staying at the club I had a feeling we were stuck with what we had.
Some people are going to try to kid you that the manager was never terribly bothered about purchasing a centre back.
They are full of it.
I would advise you to treat that assertion with the contempt it treats you with.
In fact, as he made clear time and again the position we just brought in a player for was the one the manager was not wholly set on making a signing in.
He believed we could have gone without bringing in a forward.
As I’ve said here many times, as long as we have one fit striker we do not need two on sitting on the bench, not with the way this team plays … the manager wanted a defender.
In case anyone missed it, our scare in Astana was not the result of not having people capable of putting the ball in the back of the net.
We scored eight times over the two legs; this team does not lack for firepower.
Where we came up short, and where our European ambitions were very nearly sacrificed, was in keeping them out at the other end.
Better teams than Astana lie in front of us, and none of our current three centre backs is fully fit. And when they are, doubts remain. Sviatchenko is a backup, and he knows it. Had we signed Coetzee he would have been gone and I think that’s an accepted fact.
At left back, too, we are relying on good fortune.
We have one of the best full-backs in Europe in that position right now, but every SPL boot-boy has been targeting him since that became apparent last season. He finished the campaign, at Hampden, with a broken jaw … at least the thug who did that, and refused to apologise for it, departed Scottish football today and it’s no surprise he ended up at mighty Exeter, the level of his football ability and damning indictment on the ambition of Aberdeen that they ever believed he merited a cup final place.
Jayden Stockley possessed not one ounce of football talent; he was the sort of player who exists to rough-house teams and get managers the sack.
We’ve done good business, where we’ve done it.
It’s where we haven’t that will haunt our Champions League campaign.
Our central defence is going to be hopelessly exposed. If something happens to Tierney we’re relying either on playing an SPL winger at left back or throwing young Calvin Miller in at the very, very deep end.
This morning, there is an article in the papers about how “close” we came to securing Roberts on a permanent deal worth £8 million.
That story stinks of PR sweat.
It is the sort we would have mocked mercilessly had it come out of Ibrox on a morning where crucial areas of their team had gone begging. If that kind of money was available to the manager we would not have gaping holes in the squad. I am no longer interested in this kind of vain boasting out of Parkhead about how much we could give the manager … I am only interested in what we do give him and a story like that just pisses me off today.
It insults our intelligence, frankly.
Whoever gave that story to the media has done the club no favours.
It makes them look shifty. It makes them look like they are dealing to us from the bottom of the deck. Today a lot of Celtic fans will feel cheated. Reading that, reading yet another “here’s what we could have won” story, will simply add to that general impression.
The way that story has emerged, I flatly refuse to believe it has any merit or truth in it. Because it wasn’t leaked to convince those of us who know better, it was leaked to give that section of our support which is ready to swallow anything from Celtic Park further cause to tell the rest of us to shut it.
It is a cynical attempt at manipulating the mob.
And really, it’s left a very bad taste in the mouth.