We have a big game tonight, and then tomorrow is one of our favourite days of the year. Not really though. In fact, I usually hate it and I know a lot of other folks do. Transfer deadline day is brutal and I would rather that it didn’t exist, although that would mean we’d be surrounded by speculation all day every day and it would just go on and on.
The only good thing about transfer deadline day is that it should, in theory anyway, give us all a period of rest from the utter idiocy we have to sift through on a daily basis. Most of the stories which pop up have no basis in reality at all.
Yet a lot of our fans get steamed up over them anyway. A case in point is Juranovic, who with just over a day left to go remains at our club although he was “expected to leave.”
But by who? I still don’t know, although a lot of folk freaked out over it.
Part of the problem is that for years heading up to deadline day we were still hopelessly scrambling, trying to get business done. Even last year, we were chasing three players – Giakoumakis, Carter Vickers and Jota – as the window was being shut. We got the deal for the big defender over the line in what were actually the closing moments of it.
I sat through that whole final day biting my nails. They were all clearly going to be big, important signings. The Portuguese boy was obviously a massive talent and I wanted him in the team badly. Giakoumakis has been the top scorer in the Dutch league the season before, so you knew that he was going to bring real quality with him.
But it was Carter Vickers who I really sweated bullets over, because we very obviously needed a top class defender and I don’t think that we would have won the title without one. He steadied the ship. His signing was critical, and we almost let it get away from us.
Memories of other windows, and other players who slipped the net at the last minute, haunted me. That’s why I hate transfer deadline day. You never know what awful thing you are going to have to endure. Even last year we knew Edouard and Christie were going to go that day, and although we had expected it we had to weather the blow.
A few years before, Dembele had left us on the last day of the summer window, without us even having time to sign a replacement.
But hey, that day we completed the signing of Mulumbu on a free (after he’d been out of contract for months), we brought Filip Benkovic on loan and we signed Armstrong Oxo-Flex. So that turned out alright eah?
It was the horrific end to the worst transfer summer in living memory and a lot of people should have had their arses booted down Kerrydale Street for it, and for the record that primarily means Lawwell who presided over that utter shambles.
Instead, it fed a rising anger amidst the support at the low-rent nature of it all, not to mention that it was what made Rodgers’ mind up about leaving when the first acceptable offer came in. I strongly dislike that man for his selfishness, but I’ve never entirely been able to blame him for wanting out of such a depressing situation.
Things have changed at Celtic. Obviously. Starting with the fact that Ange is in total command of the footballing operation and insisted that the bulk of the business be done early. Which is why tonight we can watch the game and tomorrow we can wait to see which fringe players depart and whether that lets us bring somebody good in.
But I have to tell you, having seen us complete the signings of Mooy and Jenz a month back I already felt pretty confident in the squad. Having added Sead Hakšabanovi?, which to me was the like the icing on the cake, we’re in better shape than we’ve been in for many years. If we signed nobody tomorrow, I wouldn’t be too bothered.
And this looks like becoming the norm too. Because the winter window opened on 31 December last year and we announced the triple signings of Maeda, Ideguchi and Hatate on the same day. We added Matt O’Riley on 20 January and the last ten days of that window were a blissfully peaceful period in which we knew we had done what we had to.
That’s how it should be. That’s how it should be in every transfer window going forward. The earlier the business is done, the better. Identify targets in advance, get the preliminary work done by making sure we can get them and then swoop the moment we’re able to formalise the business. It won’t happen like that in every case, and some deals – like the Jota deal – take longer to announce than others, but that should be the blueprint.
There will be no big departures. Nor, I suspect, will there be any big arrivals unless the club intends to pull a real rabbit out of the hat. But that’s cool, because as much as Ange has spent – and he has been backed like no Celtic boss that I can remember – the amazing thing is that his “net spend” in these three windows has been just over £8 million.
Not bad for a team which has won two trophies already and reached the Champions League Groups. Not bad for one that has high value players in any number of positions.
To say that it’s a minor miracle, to rebuild an entire squad, with a net spend of £8 million, is an understatement.
And that’s why this window will be an easy one.
The hard graft has all been done already, and all we’re doing now is putting the finish on it.