The most significant bit of transfer business yesterday might have been a signing that didn’t happen, and not one of the ones we failed to do at Celtic but the one they failed to do across the street. The Ibrox backline, which should have the word “shambles” next to it every time mention of it appears in print, remains exactly as it was.
There was no area of their team which needed greater work and this was obvious in the summer. They, like Celtic, have spent much of the budget on areas of the pitch where they were already well covered for options.
They have actually let Sakala, Hagi and Colak go to bring in players who don’t appear to be all that much better. They have signed four forward players and three midfielders, and in the meantime their defensive reinforcement is limited to a project player who looked like one against PSV and an aged centre back from yesteryear.
Their transfer policy this summer was as boldly, vividly incoherent as ours. This is the only reason our board is not being subjected to greater scrutiny. At a time when we could argue that we stood still, Ibrox has revealed an astonishing inability to make any forward progress, and this is why I still believe we’ve come out of this window better off than them.
And you only have to read the last piece I wrote to recognise the depth of my disbelief that this has proved to be the case.
The biggest sigh of relief I had yesterday was when I found out that they were not going to pull some last-minute rabbit out of the hat and shore up that leaking defence of theirs. If you watched them the other night, you’ll know how easily they were pulled apart by the Dutch. Our own defence will go to Ibrox tomorrow missing key players; the back line they put out in Eindhoven is as good as it gets for them. They look far more suspect there than we do.
If we get anything out of that game tomorrow, they are in a lot of bother having to rely on that defensive unit until January.
They couldn’t even get Davies off the books, and so he’s there as the backup to the backup, knowing nobody at Ibrox rates him or wants him. He’s never looked that good, but imagine how confident and committed to the cause he feels this morning?
Pete Townsend couldn’t get a tune out of that guy now.
If their forwards don’t start scoring, consistently, they will have squandered a huge sum of money on a rebuild at one end of the park when it was blatantly obvious that it would have been better spent at the other end.
That’s the sort of stuff that gets people sacked. And unlike at Celtic, where the transfer policy cannot be blamed on the manager, this is The Mooch’s grand design, this is all his own work, these are the choices he made.
But of course, look past that and you’ll see that the real blame lies above his head, with the people who hired him in the first place and that’s where life gets interesting, because although the Celtic board in its present form hired Brendan Rodgers the people who hired The Mooch at Ibrox are no longer in those roles, and that’s where the danger lies for him.
It’s also where it lies for us, because our directors have confirmed in this window that their entire strategy depends on staying one step ahead of Ibrox but no more.
The continuing mess that club is in is all that keeps this from being a genuine contest and as much fun as I’m still getting out of these Banter Years, I know that at some point there will be genuine professionals over there who put in place a coherent plan … and at that point we will need to use the considerable power at our disposal to put some real distance between them and us.
We have the ability. It’s about a willingness to do it, a willingness which this board has not demonstrated this summer. We cannot indefinitely count on them remaining a shambles … at some point they almost have to get their act together.
And when they do, our directors are going to have to seriously up their game, and I don’t think these tired old white men have it in them. That makes me very nervous.