As the full-time whistle blew at Tynecastle the other night, the full shape of what Ange has done started, finally, to come properly into focus. When you consider the team we took to that ground at the start of the season and the one which left at the end of that game you see just how complete, and remarkable, that transformation has been.
Fourteen players took the field for Celtic at some stage in the game.
Just four of them played in that match.
It is astonishing to consider that, and the credit for it belongs to the manager and to those at Celtic who have given him this kind of backing.
A report this morning counted up the cost of this rebuild. Ange has signed a slew of players at what you might think is enormous expense. Indeed, I thought when I initially saw the size of the job he had in front of him that it was outright impossible except with the sort of transfer spent that we’ve never seen in our lives as Celtic fans.
In fact, the total cost of the job has been just shy of £23 million. Which to my mind is both incredible and an absolute credit to all involved. How is it possible that we’ve built a cup winning, title challenging team for that sort of money in the modern game?
First, you have to give immense credit to Ange for being able to spot a player. The Japanese footballers all look superb; indeed, Kyogo has already proved to be one of the most astute pieces of business in our recent history. The whole rebuild has been done in a manner that is markedly different from any other we’ve done. It’s been nearly flawless.
The second thing you have to realise is that although that’s a huge outlay for a Scottish club we have, in fact, spent very little money that we didn’t bring in from outgoing transfers.
Quite simply, the sales of Ajer and Edouard are what has paid for this rebuild.
And that, my friends, is quite incredible and it is this ability to sell players on for big profits which marks us out as different from the club across the city and makes their own summer rebuild to come – and it will be extensive, with so many players both out of contract and entering their final year. We were able to self-fund this whole thing.
The more you look at it, the more you see that our summer and winter windows have been an absolute triumph. We are unarguably stronger, as a club, than we were this time last year and that ought to have been nearly undoable without breaking the bank.
Yet we’ll probably emerge from a £23 million spend in profit for this campaign.
That is extraordinary and should send shockwaves through our rivals.
We really are light years in front of them when it comes to this stuff.
It’s why we’ll regain our crown.