Celtic Has Brought In Top Class Quality In The Place That Matters Most. The Dugout.

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Those accusing Celtic of having had an underwhelming transfer window are missing the point.

If these guys had been signed under Ange everyone would have trusted the process and nobody would have been critical in the least, because his record had been stellar and the man had shown a good eye for signing gems.

But he’s no longer at the club.

But the process remains in place, and Celtic’s answer to Ange’s departure was far more telling and far more ambitious than we are getting credit for. For those who accuse us of shopping at the cheap end of the market – a preposterous suggestion when you consider that we’ve spent more than the club from Ibrox has without any of the fanfare, and that some of the players fans are most loathe to lose were snapped up for similarly modest fees – we have actually gone for quality in the place where it matters most.

In the dugout. With the manager.

Look across the city for a truly uninspiring and low ambition appointment in Michael “The Mooch” Beale.

Before him they had Van Bronckhorst, who arrived with a better pedigree but was brought to the club more or less because of a prior connection. That was his real qualification for the job. Before him was Gerrard, a fancy name but with no managerial experience. And before Gerrard was Caixhina. Before him it was Warburton. See the pattern?

Their club has never had the reach or the ambition Celtic has, and neither did their previous club, not since Murray was in his pomp and able to spend like a WAG with a gold card. His own managerial appointments included Advocaat and Le Guen.

They both ultimately failed, but you had to give him credit for betting big and going large, trying to attract guys whose reputations were sky high and who would have been credible candidates south of the border.

The current Ibrox club has nothing like that spending power (not that Murray’s club legitimately had it either, but they were at least able to front up as if they did) and that is part of why they remain in a constant state of flux, drifting in and out of shambles.

Indeed, the best thing ever to happen to their club was the inexplicable “shower scene” appointment of Neil Lennon, the least impressive candidate to hold the Celtic job since he replaced Tony Mowbray. It is no coincidence that their sole title win coincided with both COVID and the colossal dropping of our own standards in this regard.

Because our managerial hiring record is pretty near exemplary of late.

Twice now we’ve appointed Rodgers, an EPL calibre boss with a huge name in the sport. We hired Strachan when his stock was still high. We went for O’Neill on the back of stunning success.

We hired Ange Postecoglou; our board might have taken a punt on him but he had the sort of record which was worth studying in detail and he proved that he deserved the exaltation of those who knew him well and what he would bring to Celtic.

I defend utterly the hiring of Ronny Deila, because first it was a low-risk, high reward potential appointment when there was no real domestic challenge and the club required a change in its culture and its training ground attitudes, and the reason I defend that appointment is simple enough; he put in the hard yards that paid off later.

He will never get the credit he deserves for finally taking Celtic beyond the limiting ideas and practices which held us back. He revolutionised how things were done behind the scenes. He pioneered our embrace of sports science.

He was the first manager to get through to the players the idea that footballers are athletes and have to prepare and look after themselves with that in mind. He changed the diets. He raised the standards … but more important than that, he transformed the thinking of the whole club … and that fully justifies his tenure here.

He was one of the first people I thought of with real regret when we didn’t complete ten in a row, because he would have been an honoured guest at Celtic Park on that day and would have more than earned his standing ovation from our fans. He went on to prove his credentials by winning a third title, in a third different country, on a second continent.

It is no coincidence that following his tenure here we had reached a place at the club where we’ve gone on to win five trebles in seven years. He laid the foundations for that, and although other managers got the glory, he deserves the highest praise because his fingerprints weren’t just all over the blueprints, they were his blueprints in the first place.

On Sunday night I watched Newcastle Utd demolish their first opponents of the EPL campaign, and much of the credit for last season’s outstanding success story there has to go to the man who was the mastermind of it; Eddie Howe. He came within an ace of signing up with our club and but for the backroom team issue would have.

If Lennon is forever going to be held over this board, they deserve immense credit for their response to it.

They went for Howe and made him a pitch that brought him to the edge of agreeing to join us. Indeed, he did agree to join us … the only thing missing was the ink on the contract, and you may criticise the board for not getting that signature but you have to admit that Howe would have been worth the wait, and we came damned close to pulling it off.

The appointment of Ange looks ever better for them, in hindsight. Not only did they swiftly move for him after Howe but showed that they did have at least some inkling of the nature of the man they hired when they gave him unprecedented backing in the transfer market, whilst also sticking to the club’s philosophies on spending.

Most crucially, they tore up plans which had been prepared well in advance and trusted his singular vision; they would not have done that had Ange been the mad punt I initially believed it to be.

I’ve already read some sheer nonsense about people losing faith in Rodgers; based on what?

A completely (and media inspired) unrealistic view of what we might do in the transfer market?

A start to the campaign which isn’t flowing football like we’ve watched in the past two years but has still managed seven goals and six points in two games?

Some people need to get a grip on themselves and calm down a bit.

The criticism is bordering on insane.

Celtic works carefully, professionally, and well.

The manager knows what the priorities are – his priorities, not mine, not yours, not Barry Ferguson’s or Neil Lennon’s – and will address them before this window shuts.

He is not going to please everyone regardless of what he does, and he won’t care who isn’t entirely satisfied either. He will stand or fall based on the decisions he makes, and that’s exactly how it should be and how he would want it.

The most important signing of this summer was completed on the day he took the job.

That was true then and it’s true now.

It was bold. It was ambitious. It was ballsy.

After Ange’s departure we needed to go large, to aim high, to bring the best … and I told you guys at the time to have faith in the process because it would deliver the right calibre of man, but even I got spooked at the constant references to Maresca, none of which amounted to anything at all and was just more media inspired guff whilst we worked on the man we really wanted.

When this club aims high, when it recognises that the manager is the most important person at Celtic Park, when it reaches beyond the raging mediocrities and those out there putting their names about to every club in the business, when we ignore the white-noise and zero in, taking our status seriously, and going for the right quality, it brings success.

Ibrox, in contrast, prefers bling or the easy option or the mad punt.

With The Mooch, it’s somehow managed all three at the same time and that astonishes me because aside from hype, there’s nothing whatsoever which justifies giving him the gig.

His tendency to fold under pressure marked his card. His incoherent efforts to assemble his squad are another black spot against him. His alleged tactical style and his unwatchable playing system doom him and will doom his team. By the end of this season, he’ll have a Hell of a time finding a club which will trust him with a manager’s role.

If things at Celtic seem a little topsy-turvy and in flux right now, that’s because they are

. No top class coach would ever have come into a club like this, regardless of what it had achieved, and not stamp his own mark on it. We could have hired a million manager’s who would have simply tried to copy and paste Ange’s style and tactics … and that would almost certainly have blown up in our face.

Instead, we brought in a guy with ideas and plans of his own, because that’s what you’re supposed to do. It’s the quality that counts … and it’s why I’ve got no fears, and the utmost faith that when the picture is clearer, we’ll understand it all.

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  • CroftCelt says:

    Agree very much with your comments on Ronnie Deila. A narrative far removed from that concocted by the apology for football media coverage in Scotland.

  • Mr Vincent McSherry says:

    well said James, could’nt agree more!

  • brian cavanagh says:

    Great article James. I would go further in that continuity of moving the club forward and being at the front of innovation stems from Jock Stein across the whole his leadership but particularly in his buying -seeking to constantly refresh So signings like the Callaghan brothers, Harry Hood, Steve Murray to give some example,s were long term planned and reacted to the loss of players such as Joe Mcbride, and Davie Hay for example.

    Fans need to keep their own self belief, watch the game and not the keyboard warriors version of it. My first Celtic game was against Airdrie 4th Round Scotttish Cup 1964. The Stein team didnt always play great football, but got the job done. Just now winning is key, the team will settle and improve.

  • Joe McLaughlin says:

    I think Howe was tipped the wink about Arab money coming to Newcastle and he played a waiting game to make sure. Celtic waited too long and allowed him to do this. If the Arab deal had fallen through he would then have accepted our job regardless of backroom staff.

  • John S says:

    I can’t understand the criticism of transfer policy, recruitment has been excellent and recent signings show that the club are playing the long-game, building a squad that will learn and potentially last for years.
    Marquee signings are just that, a big tent for show.

  • Johnno says:

    Totally agree James that I believe that Rodgers has the ability to take us future in European football than Ange could have done imo, even if it remains a question we won’t get answered.
    There was always going to be big decisions within the club to be made during the summer, and a few unexpected ones landed upon ourselves also.
    Was never going to be a quick fix when Rodgers had to assess what players he had under contract and weather they fitted into his plans or not?
    Finding out what players intended staying or wanting to move on?
    Never easy when agents can be such a pain in the hole during this period.
    Yet Rodgers has already made a few calls that seem strange to myself already.
    Bain promoted ahead of big Ben?
    Turnbull getting picked ahead of hatate?
    Forrest being used ahead of hako?
    And an increasing injury list to key players currently is hardly helpful either for him.
    Yet big decisions were still pending before the arrival of Rodgers, with the keeper position?
    LB if he intended to play with a back 4?
    Wide left now Jota moved on, which was always potentially in the offering?
    With these issues still not addressed, only raises concerns with a game at the shit hole and CL fast approaching.
    Still believe Rodgers will find the solutions, even if speeding them answers up wouldn’t go a miss either at this stage

  • Magua says:

    That was a very enjoyable read, James. Here’s hoping that the Huns get stuffed tonight.

    Hail Hail.

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    We’re Treble winners (something Brendan is well used to winning) –

    We’re on The top of the League looking down on The Sevco (X 6 places) !

    I’ve enough confidence in Brendan to win The League and hopefully the cups and overtake the combine totals of Rangers (died 2012) and Sevco…

    Let’s see where we are come 3pm on September 3rd after The Glasgow Derby v Sevco !

  • JOHN BURNS says:

    I have taken issue with you on a number of occasions when posting on CQN(I no longer do so) – however this article is one of the most concise, erudite and informative that I have read on the structure, objectives and running of our wonderful club.

    Comparisons with the Ibrox club are, in my view, superfluous, but I accept their inclusion due to context.

    The constant hatred of DD, PL and the “suits” on the board is risible if also looked at in context.

    We are not half of anything – our leaders have ensured that, and our success hammers it home. Hail Hail

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