Let’s today try to deal with reality as it stands and not bend it into the shape we’d like it to be. We aren’t going to have a full team in place, at its strongest, before the Champions League qualifiers kick off. Even with the best will in the world, it’s impossible.
So the question is this; based on the squad we’re likely to have available to us, what is not the best we can hope for here but the absolute minimum that we need?
Some sections of the team are stronger than others, and although it’s pretty clear that we need reinforcements in every department there are areas where the need is greater than others, and where, in fact, it’s critical. There are areas of the team we can afford to play the first qualifier on an “as we are” basis, and others where we just can’t.
So, what can we simply not do without? There are two areas which scream at you; central defence and the strike-force. We need a proven goal-scorer who has played at a high level – like Young Boys striker Jean Pierre Nsame, who we’ve talked about before, and we require a minimum of one, but preferably two, central defenders.
If you assume the manager is Howe, he has apparently prioritised Steve Cook as an early recruit; it would be an excellent piece of business. Could we get by with him and Welsh or Hendry or, in extreme circumstances, a half-committed Ajer?
There was talk of leaving Edouard in place until those qualifying rounds was done, but the Olympics appears to have made that impossible You have to assume that the same mentality might be applied to the Norwegian.
Personally, I’d prefer to move Kris on as soon as possible, along with the other players who aren’t going to stick around. But you could make this argument far easier than the one about Edouard, who’s lack of application and effort have been painfully obvious.
Nsame or A.N. Other upfront and Cook at the back. Two key posts that need to be staffed.
Where else is absolutely critical?
I would suggest right back, an area where we only have Ralston at the moment and his confidence has to be shot if he can’t get in this team in front of Kenny. There are some who are going to say we need a new keeper and that we can’t possibly go into those games with the present players in that role. I am inclined to agree.
So a centre back, a striker, a right back and a keeper.
We could survive playing Callum on the left of the midfield and Forrest on the right.
We could survive if Mikey Johnston was fit and was capable of taking his own left-side role. That’s a position we need to sign at least one player in, but for now we can go with what we have. The same applies to Taylor.
Those four signings are the key to a successful window.
If we hit those priority areas with one player each, at least initially – the forward line needs at least two and the central defence needs maybe three, right back needs a signing and a backup too – I’ll feel more comfortable, in particular because you’ll be able to tell that people at Celtic are thinking things through.
It is way past time we started thinking about this stuff in a more considered and rational way.
We cannot go into that first game if even one of those areas is not covered by at least one signing.
It would not just be dereliction of duty, it would be suicide.