Before this season started, if you had asked Celtic fans what the most pressing area of the rebuild was they would have been almost unanimous in telling you that it was the right back slot above all others which concerned them and needed to be filled.
The club has been trying to find someone for that position for months.
“Done deals” have fallen by the wayside. Nothing has moved there at all.
Last night, we invited a Man City reserve to sit in on the game.
It’s his position. It would be a loan deal, for a kid.
Surely, some have asked me, this isn’t our answer?
And if we were asking the question we were asking just a month or so ago I would definitely agree.
But that question has changed ever so slightly, and it may even, in due course, no longer be worth much.
When you are asking different questions then obviously the answers are different too … and so it might be here.
The question was, who were we bringing in to take Ralston’s place in the team?
The question now might be, who are we bringing in to back Ralston up?
Ralston is now, without dispute, a part of this squad and a good member of this first team. He has bought into everything Ange wants to do.
He has become a better player for it and the longer he spends under a coach who gets him and believes in him, the more potent a weapon he becomes in our arsenal.
As far as I’m concerned, he’s earned the spot until someone better comes along.
That may well now be the thinking inside Celtic Park.
It may well have prompted a change in the way we are looking at the problem, and it may explain why we’re now no longer looking for a first choice player but one who might serve as an able backup.
Now, you and I can debate the merits, or lack of them, of that strategy all day long, but signing someone on loan to deputise gives us the cover we need on that side whilst letting us put resources into another area of the team.
It also leaves us the opportunity to bring in a more permanent fix in January or in the summer.
If you presuppose that Ralston continues to do a good job – and even improve – then it’s simply unfair to remove him and replace him, and stupid to spend big money just to relegate him to the bench.
As strange as it might seem, we might have our first choice right back already at the club, a player with his critics but one determined to prove them wrong.