Celtic’s transfer business is rolling along nicely. Five players have come in through the door, and two first team footballers have gone out. Our total outlay is in excess of £12 million. Where people are getting excited is in that is not even half of what we secured for Jota, although it’s much closer when you take into account the sell-on clause we paid to Benfica.
Yet still the argument reverberates online about us being “weaker.”
I had some joker tell me on Twitter the other day that he genuinely fears for us going to Ibrox because they obviously look stronger whilst we’re clearly not as good as we were. There is an awful lot of revisionism and presumption going on in taking a viewpoint like that.
First, there is one caveat which everyone who makes this argument adds to their side of it; the injuries we’ve got. But injuries are temporary.
We haven’t gone out and spent £4 million a new centre back because Carter Vickers might not be fully fit to travel to Aberdeen. We’ve spent that money because we wanted to strengthen the defence overall, and we’ve done that.
And whatever you might think of our full-back options, having one of them out injured right now does not make us weaker at the back overall.
It means that for certain early season games we will not have the option of one as a starter and the other as a backup on the bench. Furthermore, to claim that we are weaker unless we sign a left back when none of the two who are currently at the club has left is obviously nonsensical.
Yet that’s the case this guy tried to make, along with saying we’re weaker if we don’t sign a goalkeeper. Could we get stronger by replacing Hart? Yes, I think so. But to claim we’re weaker this season than last because we don’t is just howling at the moon.
Secondly, they claim that the players we’ve signed aren’t up to the same standard as the ones who have left. How do they know that?
We’ve watched Holm for 45 minutes, so for anyone to say, on that evidence, that he’s not as good as Aaron Mooy, or won’t be when he’s integrated into the team, is crazy.
The same applies to our wingers, both of whom are highly rated and actually have more career experience as Jota had when we signed him.
Keevins, the other day, demanded to know why we signed the Australian when he was injured. Eh, maybe because we don’t need him to be fit right away because we have other options but we think he’ll be worth the wait because he’s an exceptional player?
Too obvious? For that idiot, it clearly was.
Thirdly, saying that we’re “not as strong as we finished last season” is disingenuous guff.
Yes, we’ve replaced the manager, yes we’ve lost two good footballers, and yes others are out injured but if we’d brought in some inexperienced climber to replace Postecoglou and had allowed Mooy and Jota to go without bringing in replacements, or if the injuries to our players were going to keep them out long term, then we’d have legitimate grounds for concern.
None of those things is true though, and so this idea that we’re “not as strong as were at the end of last season” is hysterical hyperbole. The injured players will be back soon enough, the new signings will soon be fully integrated into the system and the manager will have started putting his own stamp on the club. These are things to look forward to.
I made a pretty big claim of my own this week when I said that the squad, as it stands, is good enough to win the title. I stand by it because I don’t see any evidence that we are materially weaker than we were; on the contrary. We now have at the helm the Invincible Rodgers again, who makes players better, and so we could see this team emerge even more powerful than it was.
In trying to copy Celtic, Ibrox has actually failed to strengthen the two areas where they had the most vulnerability, and thus the greatest need. By the time they’ve squandered their remaining cash on the guy from Feynoord it will be too late to substantially correct that.
I am confident because the core of this squad is the same as the one which won everything last season, and because the manager who has come in has won seven trophies out of seven as a boss at our club already, and he has a good record for making players better … what a side this will be if he can improve even a handful of these guys.
I am confident because the signings follow a pattern which has been immensely successful for us. We do not pull these names out of a hat; there is data and analytics and deep analysis behind what we do. We’ve proved it by our successes on the pitch and in moving these guys on for huge sums. We have proved it by the value already in our squad.
I am confident because we still have significant funds to spend, should that be required, and if the right players are available at the right time. I don’t want to see us sign big names, for big money, just to satisfy a vocal minority of our fan-base or clowns in the media who would prefer to see us blow up our financial model, because they know it’s the key to our success.
This is a club run right. This is a club built for continued glory. I am confident because this club has, in the past few years, gotten right a Hell of a lot more than it has gotten wrong, and because I have complete faith that there will be at least two more signings to augment the talent we already have, and yes, that at least one of them will be for a significant fee.
But if you asked me, honestly, do I think we’ll win the league next season with the squad we’ve got, I would say yes, without equivocating. And I do believe it, this isn’t just me making a bold statement without meaning a word of it.
The thing is, I don’t think we’ll get to find out. More signings are clearly on the way. I’m just saying that right now, I think we’re as strong as I’ve ever seen us. I have heard nothing, I have seen nothing, that convinces me otherwise.