I remember this time last summer. I remember being scared for my club, although we had already started to understand that Ange was going to change things in a big, big way. I was scared because we were moving slowly, and there was a lot needing done.
Mostly I was scared because there was a big gaping hole at the centre of what the boss was trying to do. The global health emergency had hit all clubs hard. We didn’t know how much money there was for the manager to spend. That depended on sales.
We are realists here. We don’t indulge in mad fantasies because that does nobody any good. We don’t kid ourselves that we can afford to throw money around like confetti. We knew that in order for the manager to be seriously able to spend that there would need to be an influx of cash into Celtic, and that it would only come from players going out.
Edouard, Ajer and Christie were all set to leave. We knew that. None of them were going to sign a new deal and we knew that because we’d made them all offers. And whilst we knew that there was interest in all three, we didn’t know when it would materialise, or how much the players would fetch when the offers finally came for them.
I don’t know how you guys felt, but I know I was sweating every minute that those guys were still at Parkhead without concrete bids coming in.
Ajer scared me as much as anyone because he had so obviously checked out that the manager didn’t give him a minute of game time in the team.
Edouard at least was willing to go out on the pitch, but you never got the impression he was willing to fight for every 50/50 ball. His performance at Ibrox, in particular, was gutless and woeful and I didn’t want to see him in a Celtic strip again after that day.
Christie gets full credit because he showed a willingness to fight for everything. He was in the most precarious position of all; his remaining contract was already down to mere months and if he’d gotten injured he would have been in bother.
If Edouard or Ajer had gotten injured, we’d have been in bother. With no way to move these guys on in the summer, their contracts would have ticked inexorably down. We’d have lost them for nothing, and the rebuild would have been impossible.
Even if we’d wanted to forget that this was the crisis staring us the face, we weren’t able to. Because the media was there to remind us of it, every minute of every day. They never ceased hammering the point home. It was a constant drumbeat in the background.
Today, Alex Rae joins the chorus of ex-Ibrox men telling us that if they sell one of their soon-to-be-out-of-contract players that’s probably good enough to give the manager some money to spend. Forget the long-term future of their club and the so-called plan … there is, on the surface of it, none of the panic that I was feeling this time last year.
Remember, comrades and friends, that three of these guys are – according to these same sources – considered worth eight figure sums on the market.
To lose two out of three at the end of the season means taking a hit that, by their own estimates, is £20 million plus. To lose Helander and Jack on top of them ought to be considered a disaster that would register on the Richter Scale.
Yet no-one in the media, and supposedly no-one at the club, is panicking?
Who are these Peepul trying to kid?
They need to clear all three of the big earners – Morelos, Kent and Aribo – off the books pronto. They need to offer Helander and Jack new deals and if they won’t sign them, they need to cut these guys loose as well.
If any of those players fail to sign new deals and are still on the books when the window shuts, all the positive spin – “they kept their Scottish Cup winning team together” – will not be able to hide the scale of the disaster. They aren’t fooling anyone but themselves.
Yet the media plays along with this charade as if it were not obvious. They kid themselves that because Goldson signed a new deal at the last minute that these guys might be turned around the same way. But Goldson himself had bought into the media’s hype and had expected some mega-money bid from England which never came.
Kent, Aribo and Morelos will get offers from clubs down there. Helander will have offers from somewhere in Europe. Jack is a tougher one to call; I think he might well sign a new deal with the club because they will offer him more than other clubs will.
But a major sale is the only way that club gets to spend big money. Aside from trying to punt these guys (and failing) they are actively encouraging offers for Bassey and Kamara, and hoping desperately that somebody bites.
Whilst the media and their fans run with the idea that selling only one player would be a decent outcome, inside the club of course they know better and are weighing up the full effects of what would be a disastrous turn of events.
They are terrified of the prospect, knowing that their credibility is, in a very real way, tied up in their ability (or lack thereof) to start turning a profit on “player trading.” If they can’t do it now then they never will, because none are prepared to keep carrying the club’s debts. On top of that would be the epic humiliation of the core of a European final reaching team essentially walking away from the club for free. They simply won’t accept that outcome.
But the media pretends this isn’t the case. There is no pressure being applied on Ibrox except that which is being applied inside the walls. They know they are in a race against two ticking clocks; one to get these players off the books and the other to use the funds to rebuild the team. Ironically, they have locked themselves into a bad place.
Because if they hold out for what they think they can get, they might not shift these guys until they are truly desperate. But that doesn’t leave a lot of time for the manager to spend the cash replacing them, does it? For them to sell now, though, means taking less than they’ve told their fans that they want … this is where the madness of their approach really comes to bear.
They are sweating every second of it. And they should be.
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