There is a lot in the papers about the scale of our summer rebuild.
We know that it’s going to be huge.
We know that it’s going to be expensive.
We are going to lose key players.
We are going to have to bring some in.
Lennon has talked about making moves to bring back the players who are currently on loan at the club; that alone should be enough to have him sacked.
Elyounoussi, you could make a case for if you were willing.
A top manager might be able to get one hell of a tune out of the player.
But to me, he doesn’t do it enough. When he plays he really plays and looks an absolute class act. But all too often he meanders around doing nothing of note.
I don’t think even he is worth giving another year to.
One is an easier sell than the other.
The first is Maryan Shved.
I am amazed that this guy wasn’t a success at Celtic Park. He had the right pedigree. He was playing in a tough league and scoring goals for fun. He was an international.
Brendan Rodgers might have dismissed him out of hand, but then he wasn’t the man who signed him and you could understand why he might not fancy playing him.
But Lennon didn’t exactly give him a chance either … and there were some questions about his commitment and fitness. Amazing, really, when you consider that those things are clearly issues with the present team.
Shved must have been bad, then.
Last season, my mate Ross was doing a monthly review on the team for the blog and I remember the pitifully low score he gave to Shved on the occasion we saw him. I wondered if he was being unfair, but then I watched the body language of the player and saw immediately what Ross was talking about; he looked like a bloody non-trier.
He went out on loan last year and he’s played only a modest number of games.
His coaches at Mechelen have not been impressed by his attitude either, and they’ve publicly expressed their great dissatisfaction.
Still, he’s got three goals in ten games for them … there is a player there if he’s in the mood. But like Elyounoussi you wonder if you’re ever going to get him on a good day.
Celtic fans have certainly not seen him have one of those.
But it’s weird too, because Lennon’s reluctance to play certain players is well known. Soro had to wait a mighty long time to crack the first team. Klimala still isn’t established, although he’s in the squad most weeks. Turnbull also waited an almost ludicrous period of time before getting into the side … this is just what Lennon does. He has favourites.
So should Shved have been given another chance?
Is it worth bringing him home and giving him one when his loan deal ends, or should we be looking to move him on?
He signed a four-and-a-half-year deal; he will be here for a couple more years at least if we want him.
There’s no need to make a final decision on him just yet, and he’s only 23.
Much will depend on whether or not he does anything in Belgium. From there it will be down to whether the club has any faith in him or thinks it can get a return on our initial £2 million fee.
I would reluctantly give him a chance.
Find out if there’s a player there and if not we have a chance to move him on.
Another loan with an option to buy would present him with a chance to play his way out of the door if it’s not going to happen here.
Jack Hendry is also in Belgium, and to me bringing him back for a better look is a no-brainer.
He signed a year before Shved, but also has a four-and-a-half-year deal meaning that it’ll be 2023 before his contract is up.
We have time to give him the proper look he deserves.
Our central defensive situation is chronic.
Sending this kid on loan has been slammed by a lot of people as a result, but they are talking with the benefit of hindsight because, really, there was no real reason to keep him around when we allowed him to leave.
But there is plenty of reason to think he will be a better player upon his return.
The best thing that ever happened to Kris Ajer was when we let him go out on loan.
Likewise, with Ryan Christie.
These guys came back better footballers for being allowed to develop and grow elsewhere.
We could have left them sitting on the bench, but we made the right call.
All told, Hendry has been outstanding in Belgium.
He has clearly developed as a footballer, and grown in confidence and that’s what he was painfully, horribly, short of when he was at Celtic Park. The pressure of the place, of the jersey, was eating him alive.
He needed time away to sort his head and come back with a better perception of himself.
There is no doubt whatsoever that he’s done that.
Just reading his recent interviews you get the sense of someone brimming with self-belief and who’s enjoying his football. If we had been able to recall him from his loan I think we’d have done it in two seconds; I am glad, in a sense, that we did not.
This car-crash season would have been the wrong time for him.
But next season, under a new boss and with a fresh start … Hell, that’s so obvious as not to require any sales patter. It should be an imperative. Hendry would add something to the squad.
At the very least, he should get an opportunity to show us what he can do.
These guys would save us money in two key areas of the team. We can find out how good (or not) they might be quickly enough, and if they add value to the squad (in the football sense) we can keep them on.
Otherwise they can join the exodus.
But the new manager must have that opportunity.
He must get to make that decision on his own.
I think we might be very surprised with what we get.