The signing, today, of our Polish central defender is Step One in a new process.
What we’re going to see, hopefully, is the start of the Brendan Rodgers team. The Ange Postecoglou side functioned like a well-oiled machine. But this is a new manager with new ideas and he is going to have to get those across to the team in a way that works for him.
There is a lot to do before we see a team that is properly his own, and it won’t be this season. One of the reasons I’m quite pleased with the business done so far is that it obviously makes us stronger for the domestic campaign.
More players. More options. More possibilities for changing the style and the tactics on the fly.
The league is the priority.
Always was and always will be, and a Celtic manager who can’t win the title is going to find it doesn’t really matter what else he does because that’s the first and most important task he must complete.
But we all want the next evolution, the one into Europe, and that’s where a lot of people are frankly freaking out over the signings so far.
None of them is an obvious game-changer in that regard.
Here’s the issue though; it’s difficult to see us making the kind of signings that will elevate us to the point where we’re capable of making an impact there.
For years to come, we’re going to be beaten with the stick that Ibrox got to a final not that long ago. Thank God they didn’t win it, because we’d never have heard the end of that.
Yet I was of the view then, and I remain of the view now, that they had maybe two exceptional results in that run but that the rest was sub-par and that it’s the worst progression to a European final I’ve seen in a long time.
They won only one third of their games.
They qualified from their Group with eight points. We went out with nine.
They carried some amount of luck along the way.
I said, even as the press was predicting bigger things to come, and claiming that they had in fact made that giant leap that they would be found out the first time they came up against genuine elite level teams. The doings they got in that Champions League Group were no surprise to me whatsoever.
It went exactly as I expected it to.
We are facing a similar problem this season, and most people I know want to see progress.
But what does that look like?
Third in a group, that’s progress of a sort, but even that’s a crapshoot because what if our Group is Man City, Real Madrid and AC Milan?
That’s one of the possible permutations and we have no idea if that’s how it’s going to look.
We could, just as easily, get Feynoord, Porto and Red Star Belgrade.
What would progress look like in a group like that?
Second? Topping the thing?
Third place in that group would be a disappointment to many … what I’m saying is that a lot of this is going to come down to luck.
It’s impossible to prepare for that by spending huge sums of money.
What if we sign three players in the £10 million bracket and get that Group of Death?
Will three such signings really take us past teams which can afford to spend the whole £30 million on a backup player?
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t try to match these teams in some manner … but we’re not going to catch them trying to spend our way there, and all that does is gets us into bother later.
Alternatively, what if we don’t spend big on the “marquee player” most people expect, and who would clearly fit right into the first team without question and we get a group like that and don’t progress for want of a big-game footballer with the right skill-set?
I’ve long argued that every single member of our squad could be replaced by a better footballer, within the spending limits we set ourselves.
The trick is to identify those guys and snap them up before someone else does. That’s why I trust the current process, because I know it’s working.
We can put ourselves under a loss of pressure here, in demanding that the club splash the cash, and the club can save itself a lot of questions later if it does it.
But is it the right thing, and how sure are we that we’d be getting the calibre of player who genuinely can lift us above the present team?
The risk must be balanced … if you presume that we’re good enough to win the league with this squad what would it take to raise us to the next level, and is the risk worth the reward?
That question – and its answer – will define our summer.