Yesterday, the manager was all over the papers talking straight about the club’s transfer policy. It must have come as a shock to many people. Whilst many of us still expect that the club’s transfer record could be breached in this window, we are under no illusions about where our club is in the Grand Scheme Of Things, or what it’s able to spend.
One of the themes of this transfer window so far has been the steady pushing of the idea that signings have already been forced on Brendan Rodgers.
There is zero chance that this has happened. That man left this club the last time over the transfer policy. This club is not signing players he does not want. We have stability. The last thing we’re going to do is torpedo our own chances, after we’ve made this guy boss on a huge salary.
Rodgers has certainly been presented with a list of players which had been drawn up under the previous manager, but that’s par for the course with every Celtic boss of my lifetime.
No-one really believes that Ange identified Jota or Carter Vickers or Starfelt or Abada or O’Riley, and it’s a well-known fact that Moussa Dembele was identified before Rodgers signed him in the first term … so there is precedent for this stuff.
What’s important is that Rodgers has the final say on this stuff, and that he knows the limitations we work under and that he’s fine with that. Which he is.
Things at this club are radically different than they were when he was last here. We’re not throwing darts at a board with these signings now, there is a science behind this, an art to it, and that so many of our signings of late have been hugely successful proves it.
Too many people bought into what was a media-led narrative about Rodgers; that he wouldn’t be coming back to the club without the money to “compete in the Champions League.”
Rumours have flown back and forth, many of them wholly nonsensical, about us going after the likes of Wilfrid Ndidi, Donny van de Beek and even Scott McTominey. There continue to be stories about Kieran Tierney, none of which are remotely realistic.
I expect us to do more business. Quite significant business even.
There will be one signing which will make Scottish football sit up and take notice. I wouldn’t even be surprised if our transfer record fell; let’s not forget that spending an eight figure sum would do that, and he never ruled that out, only one in the £15 million plus region.
But major deals tend to get done nearer the end of the window; in Ange’s first campaign, three game-changing signings – Jota, Carter Vickers and Giakoumakis – weren’t done until the final day.
Two of them were loans with an option to buy.
But they were expensive and complicated to put together. I expect that this will be the same. I wouldn’t even be terribly surprised if it was someone like Tete, someone not even costing the earth … the thing about a blue chip signing is that it’s an obvious game-changer regardless of the money spent, or even if you get him for none spent. Everyone will recognise it when it comes.
We are not afraid to spend significant money.
We do it frequently.
Those looking at our summer transfer business with a sneer appear not to have twigged that we’ve spent as much money as the club from Ibrox has, and we overlaid that spending onto a title winning squad which is largely untouched. The manager himself has said we fully intend to spend more before the window closes. But he also wants to inject some realism into the debate.
There are two reasons why this is necessary.
If Celtic are after a blue chip player and don’t get him – and especially if it’s because interest from elsewhere pushes the price beyond our reach – we shouldn’t be penalised for it either by the media or by our own fans. These things happen, and that it’s entirely possible that neither the media nor the fans will ever know our about our pursuit, just that we didn’t complete a big signing, makes it all the more important that the manager make this clear.
The second reason is this; if the perception exists that we have all this money to burn, we will end up pushed towards unaffordable fees whether other clubs are interested or not. The second we sold Jota any club we were still negotiating with added something onto the cost of their player because they knew we were sitting on that cash.
So managing expectations – and making sure people have realistic ones – is not only necessary but it’s overdue. It’s not that Rodgers has been going around adding to the speculation thus far, he certainly has not, but I am glad that he’s finally tackled it in a way that brings sanity to this, and where the media can no longer stir the soup over it.