Today another shock; Dembele missing training so he and his advisors can go to Celtic Park for crunch talks with the club. I’m not touching this issue with a 20 foot pole tonight. I said in a piece last week that Sutton should think about taking a sabbatical from slagging our club but he said today the most right on the nose thing anyone has thus far; if Celtic’s position is that Dembele is not for sale all Celtic has to do is say that to interested parties.
From me, on this one, radio silence until the matter is settled. Either way, I’ll have something interesting to write.
This story feeds in to a bigger one, the utter shambles that this window has been. All the blame that’s being tossed to and fro on the subject is just so much confetti in the air.
There is enough of it to go round. The board has failed to back the manager. He let his frustrations boil over in public. One player went on strike. A week after most fans thought he’d never play again for us he was back in the team because of absences.
We looked weak at every stage of this window. At no point in the whole of it did you feel we were getting stronger as a club. The manager’s public pledges of loyalty are the only good news but every man’s loyalty has a limit; if we’re even weaker on Friday than we are right now I would imagine his will be just about at breaking point.
The whole of this summer has been a full-on disaster and the anger has been mounting since it became clear that we were going to go into the Rosenborg game without having improved the squad. It was inevitable that we would then fail to buy someone in time for Athens, and so in between these games the real unravelling started.
I cannot remember a summer like it, frankly.
The shambles of the McGinn deal was the point where you thought it couldn’t get worse, but in surreal style things have gone downhill from there. Those who moaned at my Boyata piece over the weekend should note that in it I said we’d opened the door for other players to suddenly start acting out; cue Dembele’s agents beating their way to Lawwell’s door. It’s not that you couldn’t make it up, it’s that if you opened your eyes you could see it coming a mile away.
Even this has been scandalously mishandled. There was no reason why Dembele couldn’t have trained with the team and then met with the CEO afterwards, but Celtic chose to handle today’s events like the latest act of a summer long pantomime. It’s public and ugly and allows rumour and counter rumour to run wild. It is a PR disaster, like the rest of this summer has been and all of it has been manufactured inside Celtic Park itself.
I hear people talking about positions being “untenable” if this all unravels; yeah, yeah, yeah. A week ago the fans were unified in condemning Boyata. Some of the same people called him a hero in the aftermath of Sunday’s game. I have no doubt that Lawwell and some of the directors would piss themselves over threats of boycotts or protests but it would not be with fear.
Promises were made. I cannot repeat that enough. If they are not delivered on then lies have been told. Those who have, on occasion, accused me of being a board stooge are stupider than the average Sevconite if they really believe that. “Lawwell is a bulldog,” the Lyon president is said to have said today. If he sells Dembele that’s not the word that will come to my mind, but it’ll certainly start with the same four letters.
This board has 48 hours to lift the black cloud over our club and since they are to blame for it being there in the first place I suggest they get cracking, and considering how the CEO spent his afternoon I am going to tell you, I am not optimistic as to how this ends.