To say this window has been disappointing, frustrating, and finally, as we come into the last week, infuriating is an understatement.
We went into it hoping to strengthen. Now, before its end, we can already see that in two key areas we’re almost certainly going to be materially weaker than we were before it opened. And we all had such high hopes too.
Five signings, perhaps six. That’s what I heard. Strengthening the key areas of the team.
We’ve already had Brendan say central defence is not a priority, perhaps sticking a pin in that although we’ll be going into the Europa League tie a player short in that area. We had the coaches say we would keep our best players. Now we know that in terms of one of them at least we’re hanging on by a thread. Dembele is done at Celtic Park and to keep him a day longer is to have a player hanging around who would rather be somewhere else.
Armstrong stays, his future still as clear as mud.
At the end of the season Edouard and Roberts are due to return to their respective clubs. I know there’s interest in keeping Edouard, but few fans are convinced by talk of a £6 million transfer fee. Roberts looks as if he’s going back to Man City, whatever he spent on him halfway to being a waste.
I think there is material uncertainty about a number of our other players.
Boyata has yet to sign a contract extension, not that many Celtic fans would weep if he didn’t. Simunovic will be sold the minute a halfway decent offer comes in … if it happens this coming week watch the almighty scramble to bring in a replacement at Lastminute.com.
Rumours about Griffiths being unhappy buzz in the background like an angry insect. True or not, life at Celtic Park isn’t going to get easier for him, as Brendan has made it quite plain he doesn’t regard him as a first choice striker.
What’s holding all this together is the sight of this team at the top of the league, but it’s pretty plain just by looking at all this that we’re facing a summer of upheaval. That will be added to if, as expected, the “big move” we’re said to be contemplating turns out to be another EPL youth prospect on loan.
Too much of the team has already got “temporary” stamped on it.
What we get, instead, is talk. Talk from the manager, talk from his assistant, headline grabbing stuff about how if the right player was available we could break the transfer record the club set back when it purchased Chris Sutton. And I’ve written that stuff before, because if any Celtic manager since O’Neill had the credibility to spend that kind of cash and the gravitas to make sure he got that sort of backing it was this guy.
But whilst the number might seem large talk is cheap. And talk is all we’re getting at the moment, and to be frank most Celtic fans are probably sick and tired hearing it.
We want to see some signs of life, not listen to chit-chat about it. We’ve done nothing in this window; we’ve spent £1.3 million on a defender who’s injured and a midfielder we won’t see until the next campaign. Towards that European tie which looms in front of us and for which the board is already asking for our money we’ve done exactly nothing.
If the club isn’t taking that tie seriously, why should we?
There are eight days to go. Fans are not “panicking” at the complete lack of progress, they are angry about it. The way we conduct our business is impressing exactly nobody right now, and it’s all very well saying we trust Brendan to get things right but he’s not the worry, the people above him are the worry, the same as it ever was.
On the back of record income last season, the manager got the funds in the summer for exactly one high calibre first team player; Olivier Ntcham. We signed Patrick Roberts on loan. Qualification for the Champions League this season means that the coffers are swelling even further.
We also bagged £7 million from the sale of Van Dijk.
And going into this window we had a team dead on its feet, with the manager talking about a “revolving door”, which we all rightly assumed meant numerous departures and arrivals. The departures longue looks busy, a bunch of people waiting on flights the Hell out of here.
The arrivals lounge is empty. And so uncertainty grows.
The club has eight days to impress us by cutting the talk and getting down to business. But you know what? I no longer live in expectation. Call it hope. If this window closes without something positive then people at our club have serious questions to answer.
“If the right player becomes available,” Davies said yesterday, which is an all-too-common refrain at Celtic Park for failure to get people in. If we don’t already know who the targets are and what their availability is then someone over there isn’t doing their damned job.
As far as I’m concerned we were fobbed off with excuses in the summer. The collapse of Coetzee deal showed that we had no plan B. There are problems with the machine. Fans aren’t going to be fobbed off with pitiful excuses this time around.
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