There was a grim inevitability to seeing, this week, a series of headlines bashing Celtic from one of our former players. Anyone feeling a little left out of the media spotlight knows what they have to do at a moment like this, when the club is riding high, when we’re all in a good mood and simply marking off days on the calendar towards a cup final and a treble.
Enter Andy Walker, who picked this week to open fire on the Celtic board over a lack of ambition to build for, and equip us for, Europe. It’s a frequent subject of debate amongst the fans, this, because there’s some historical truth to it … but Walker has picked the wrong time and the wrong argument. Because two key factors are different than they were.
First, let’s examine what the man actually said.
“I honestly don’t think Celtic are interested in signing £9-10million players to try and have a go in the Champions League. I think the money men at Celtic, they just don’t see the value in that. Celtic want to remain strong in Scotland and when I say Celtic, I mean the board … the fans talk about a serious investment to have a serious go in the Champions League – (the board) don’t see the value in that.”
It’s really quite a ridiculous statement, even at face value.
First, if we’re not the top dogs in Scotland then it really doesn’t matter what ambitions we have in Europe, does it?
So staying ahead of the pack, domestically, isn’t something they deserve to be pilloried for.
One Scottish club in the history of the game here has spent an eight figure sum on a player, and that was Tore Andre Flo at Rangers, an act of ego to prove the “tenner for fivers” point after we’d signed Chris Sutton.
It was an act of ego, not calm, strategic thought. It helped propel them to their death.
Celtic’s transfer record was around £8 million for Odsonne Edouard, and we paid that because he was a regular goal-scorer for the French Under 21’s and was supposed to make us a massive profit, and of course he actually did.
In short, there is a difference between a club which wants to sign £9-10 million players and one which is able to do so at the drop of a hat. How much does this joker think the SPFL television deal is worth for God’s sake? Celtic isn’t a position to fill our team with those kind of players, whether he recognises that fact or not.
And yet … we might be if certain things fall into place, and I’ll talk about that at the end. It further contradicts Walkers ridiculous rant.
Besides, imagine we did. Imagine we decided to push the boat out and give Ange £50 million to spend in the next window; more, in short, than he’s had in the first two campaigns combined. That money would lift us far and away from the rest of Scottish football, including the hapless side across the city. But make an impact in that billionaire’s playground?
What does the phrase “trying to have a go” even mean? Topping a Group? Getting to the quarter finals? Has he not noticed that, by and large, it’s the same eight teams who get to that stage nearly every year? We’re not exactly pushing on an open door.
See, that’s where our club stays grounded and doesn’t get carried away. You could spend those fortunes and still not make any tangible progress, if the Group Stage draw goes badly against you. And in that, the Celtic board is fully entitled to wonder just what the point of the exercise would be. It’s easy to sit in a studio and bump your gums about lack of ambition … but these people have a responsibility to ensure our club is financially robust.
On top of that, this board has given Ange Postecoglou an unprecedented level of financing. No manager in the history of Celtic has had cash even remotely comparable to what the has been allowed to spend in the course of his first two campaigns. So giving them stick for lacking either ambition or the willingness to back the boss just doesn’t stand.
This is typical of Walker, to find a nonsensical issue and run with it. We don’t know what the summer will hold for Celtic, but we do know that the boss has outlined his intentions very clearly in terms of the transfer plan he – and presumably the club – is following.
Ange has said, on the record, that his strategy is to buy the £2 million players and sell them so he can buy the £5 million players and to sell those so he can buy the £10 million players and up and up until we can spend seriously money – sustainably – and try to do big things. But Walker hasn’t just missed that but he’s misunderstood that it’s not all about spending money.
You have to marry that spending to a coherent philosophy, which Ange has done. And it’s a philosophy that Walker himself has publicly disagreed with and urged him to drop. We play on the front foot, regardless of the opposition; Walker wants that ditched in Europe. So he wants us to spend big and then play a Livingston style eleven behind the ball anyway when we play against the top teams … it’s obvious why he never went into management.
Let’s be honest, he’s not a great pundit either. He’s another raging mediocrity who successive Celtic managers have had a pop at over how unappreciated his “wisdom” is within the walls of the club. He, like several other ex-Celtic players believes that he can have it both ways. To slag the board, and he thinks, keep the fans onside whilst telling the world everything he thinks we’re doing wrong just to appease the rest of his audience, and his bosses of course.
This time he’s got his headlines, but God almighty he is woefully out of step here with the thinking of the vast majority of our fans. There is no virtue on spending crazy sums chasing the dream. Celtic has a plan and is following it. Celtic is pragmatic and grounded, and that’s why we’re where we are right now, with money in the bank and a lot to look forward to.
He just doesn’t get it. He never has and he never will.
May 20, 2023 at 11:52 am
Johnny Green says:
May 20, 2023 at 12:19 pm
Mr Vincent McSherry says:
May 20, 2023 at 12:21 pm
May 20, 2023 at 12:34 pm
Gerry McGonigle says:
May 20, 2023 at 1:46 pm
May 20, 2023 at 1:49 pm
May 20, 2023 at 1:52 pm
May 20, 2023 at 2:21 pm
May 20, 2023 at 3:43 pm
May 20, 2023 at 3:51 pm
John L says:
May 20, 2023 at 6:25 pm
Robert dunnachie says:
May 21, 2023 at 12:49 pm
You have just said what a lot of us think about that clown, he certainly does not know about money matters.
First of all I would like to say that Celtic did not make a massive profit on Odsonne Edouard, that is a fallacy. We paid 9M for him and received 14M. however PSG were due, according to reports at the time, 33% of the profit. We did though make a healthy enough profit.
Although I would like to see us doing well in Europe, as we all do, I agree that we have to be careful in our transfer dealings Spending big at our level will not guarantee success in Europe, as most of the successful clubs could buy and sell us in the financial sense. i still want us to invest at a higher level than we are doing now and progressively improve that that on a yearly basis. At least let us win some group games, collect the bonus points/payments involved and even progress to the next stage given the chance.
This summer transfer window coming is not the time to splash out big, but to cement our place on the domestic scene while also strengthening and giving us hope for more success in in Europe.
Let Ange be the orchestrator of that gradual progress and for us to put our trust in him. There is a lot to look forward to.
Does anyone really care what Andy Walker has to say? Certainly not me!!
Well done James.
Walker is someone who farts from both ends of his body.
His opinions mean nothing to us!
He is a balloon of the hot air variety.
And we’ve already lived the dream in ’67. Nothing to prove
Completely agree James, looking at Man City smash Real Madrid only makes it clear that the Champions League is forever beyond us unless we move leagues, which I don’t think will ever happen. Now the Europa is a different thing entirely and it’s possible if we continue our current evolution that we could get there. Hell if Sevco can get there by winning only 7 of 15 games anything should be possible.
Really annoys me that such a gobshite in Andy wanker is still been given the voice of Celtic within sly sports.
Usual thick response with throwing money at looking for improvement, without any understanding of the process involved as you pointed out so well James.
So would a McGinn or mactominey improve out Scottish contingent within a CL squad?
Possibly would so, but at what cost?
Changing the whole wage structure within the club?
Not going to happen, when we can still attract better value for money even within a Scottish league that might not be the most attractive on offer.
Our performances this season were very encouraging and a great platform to build upon imo.
When you are operating in a 6 game mini league, and give away poor goals and miss big chances then gaining the results needed is an uphill task to qualify and move forward.
This remains the task for Ange to look to improve upon, and without discarding the importance of winning the SPFL also in the process.
I might regard the CL matches as our most important nowadays and yet wouldn’t class 6 games guaranteed as worthy of spending a fortune to gain success either.
Still believe a few tactical weeks will be what’s needed to get the results required as our quality remains intact still with the chances that were created.
As for the squad?
If you drew up a 25 man squad today, and look at what the 25 will be actually submitted, then I believe that a number of changes will still be made.
Will that be costing us a fortune in doing so?
Not a chance of it happening as we are a very well run club and not the scum in disguise either
I’m not overly happy about saying this but I agree far more with Walker’s analysis than yours. £6/7/8/9 mil players of a younger age with further development could be sold on for much more. Ange himself said he wanted to bring more quality to the club on an ongoing and improving standard.
Henrik, Sutton, Lambert, etc, stayed in this league for a long time and that contributed to an improvement in the standard of the league and our European performances.
Your complaint about playing the likes of Livi though is valid but that’s an argument that should be taken up with them and the SFA for allowing matches to be played on that non pitch. Sure we can’t be responsible for the poor quality of other teams but that doesn’t mean that we should be accepting of just being a standard above.
I do want to see improvement in the CL and like many Celtic fans I’m not at all sure that’s what we’re going to get. Top and bottom is that this is back to accepting the second run of the Lawwell/Lennon days, it’s about Celtic making as much money as possible at the consequence of CL performances and outcomes. In fact before the CL let’s discuss this – Rangers 3 Celtic 0. You cannot be serious.
You don’t always need to sign 9-10 million pound players if you have developed players yourself to that level.
Surely Johnson, Carter Vickers, Starfelt, Hatate, McGregor and Kyoto are worth around those sums with others in the team not far behind.
How many 9 million players would oust Kyogo?
Good article, James. The only positive about Andy Walker, is that he’s not as bad as Charlie Nicholas.
He is just a wee tool, I seen him in the sky lounge at Glasgow Airport and his wee rotten face was tripping him ( nothing new there) . On to today we were totally lightweight without CCV, and that’s a worry. Roll on the cup final and the 5+ goals we should get that day and the real bragging rights over the summer shall start. Happy Holidays, Happy Celtic Supporters
While I think there is value in your opinion I also see some merit in Walkers opinion. Celtic lost the 10 due to complacency. We are not too far in front of Rangers no matter what a lot of our fans think. The team needs strengthening for the season ahead both domestically and in Europe. Are we not allowed to criticise or have an opinion. Like Walker I criticise Celtic because I want them to do better.
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