A Week Into The Window, Are “Well Prepared” Celtic Any Further Forward?

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The window has been open now for just over a week. We’re still nearly a fortnight out from games again but there is already a growing and nagging impatience on some of the Celtic social media sites and to be blunt, it is not difficult to understand why.

It is easy enough to make excuses for our directors, and a lot of people are going to work hard doing exactly that. This is still, for some people, the holiday season and some aren’t back at work yet and others are only just back. The players are off at the moment, relaxing at home for a spell instead of being put through their paces. Not a lot is going on.

The Asian Cup players are away. Kyogo, left behind, gives the board a modest alibi. But as Rodgers pointed out this week, Kyogo has a long-term fitness issue which could keep him out for four months if it ever goes really bad or he decides to get the op for it. In relying on Kyogo as long as we have, we have given ourselves a huge hostage to fortune already.

Those who can hide behind the manager appear keen to keep rolling the dice on that one. If your best forward has questionable fitness you should be looking to have a capable substitute for him, regardless of whether he’s playing in the here and now. His being still in Scotland changes nothing about what we have to do. It doesn’t even make it less immediate.

Over and over, we come back to the same old tired drag-outs for these people, the main one being that January is a tough time to get business done. All the more reason, you’d think, with the Asian Cup looming on the horizon to get things done in the summer.

But our incoherent transfer policy ignored that whilst people at the club blithely assured us that they were “well prepared” for al eventuality. Which would be why we signed three more players in that window who were eligible to go away and play in this tournament, with two of them selected for it. Our summer business made no sense; it looks shambolic and more than ever with hindsight. I could not even hazard a guess at what people had to be thinking.

I know this; the managers needs were certainly not being served. No-one was thinking properly ahead to the Asian Cup, no matter what people at Parkhead might want you to believe. Even the manager cannot make a coherent case for that and his comments to that end are demonstrably daft because we can all see the truth with our own eyes.

There is a lot of talk about who the targets might be, but the media doesn’t really have a clear idea about these things and we know that full well. Their own guessing-game over it is impressing nobody and that’s why I can zone out such stuff about Scott McKenna and Jordan Henderson and all the other mad names they are throwing about. Something has to be going on behind the scenes, or the manager would rightfully be doing his nut … but the media doesn’t have the names any more than we the fans do. But by God, we like to make things difficult for ourselves. We like to flirt with snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

It is early to panic. It is early, I think, even to express concern. But it is not too early to remind people at Celtic Park that this transfer window needs to start delivering Brendan Rodgers’ team, and that the eyes of the fans are now locked on Mark Lawwell, whose record so far has been decidedly hit and miss with far more of the latter than the former.

Nobody I speak to regularly thinks he is up to this job. Nobody. I know people at Parkhead will kid themselves on that he is getting stick just because of his second name; my answer to that is that if they wanted to avoid that they could have hired literally any person qualified to do the role and whose second name wasn’t Lawwell. That’s only part of the story though, because more and more Lawwell is getting stick because people are looking at the job he has done and think he’s coming up well short. It is impossible to argue with that assessment.

The success of Ange Postecoglou’s first two transfer windows is easy to understand when you look not even at the players who were signed by the way they all fit into the squad and improved every area of it. He is a professional who came in, saw what was required in each position and told the board very specifically what he wanted in each one. In some cases that was a specific footballer who he knew could get it done. In other cases he simply supplied the blueprint and told the scouting team to come up with a list of names who matched it.

But he controlled the design. He picked each component part very specifically, each of them slotting perfectly in to do a specific job. Look at the window just past. You cannot tell me that was structured or well thought out.

When you sign ten players and do not markedly improve even one area of the squad from what we had last season that’s bad. When that policy fails to fix glaring holes which even the most noobish Football Manager player can spot, that’s worse; it’s an indictment against everyone in the upper echelons of the football department, Rodgers included.

He ought never to have permitted people who were not qualified to pick and choose the players for him, without the slightest interest in what his requirements were. That was a huge mistake which I trust he is not going to repeat. But he cannot allow these people their other favoured tactic either, which is dragging their feet. He has to get a firm grip on things.

And the absentee landlord, the man with the largest individual shareholding who somehow is allowed to direct the strategy without even holding a majority, needs to take a long hard look at the people who are making decisions under his flag.

I know this; in any other Dermot Desmond business he simply would not permit the kind of nepotism he’s tolerated at Celtic, and even if he was prepared to give people the benefit of the doubt and prove themselves, he would be harsh to say the least on those who very obviously weren’t hitting the mark. Lawwell has this window to fix what he’s broken, and all the old January excuses are exactly that; in Ange’s first window we brought in, early doors, the three players who didn’t just elevate the squad but won us the title so it’s not going to fly.

If he makes a mess of this there can be no question whatsoever of allowing him to lead the recruitment strategy for this coming summer. On no account can Rodgers permit that, and if it comes to him going to Desmond and saying “it’s him or me” then that’s how it has to be, not that this should even be a difficult choice to make. Desmond wanted Rodgers. He gave him the controls. He cannot do that and permit a backseat driver.

Lawwell Jnr has a little over three weeks. Foot-dragging now will only ensure that they are more uncomfortable than they need to be. Signs of life, Celtic, that’s what we need to see. Signs that the manager is being backed and not treated as some irritating after-thought. Signs that this board realise the gravity and scale of the summer’s folly and are working to put it right..

It’s not time for panic, but fans are increasingly pissed off, so we’ll get to anger long before that.

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  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Well that’s one key position we needed strengthened already no happenin and that’s a keeper accordin tae BR. If we end up again goin down this last minute loan or ‘prospect’ deals road, we’re absolutely askin, BEGGIN for trouble. Could be, the derby win was enough for this board tae stick tae their usual ways. Hope ahm wrang, tho again its startin tae feel ominous. Has that been all they needed tae continue with the big gamblin tactics, where the other 2 available domestic honours are concerned. If its the case it beggars belief.

  • Bigbaws says:

    It’s my opinion that the only reason Mark Lawwell got the job was because Peter Lawwell knew he could not get away with putting himself in the role.
    Now he has his son to do his bidding for him. Look at our transfer windows when Peter was in control compared to when Ange had control. Then compare last January and the summer windows to when Peter Lawwell was in control. They are identical.
    Welcome back yo Lawwell productions

  • Johnny Green says:

    We cannot really compare the two Clubs, with one shopping at Harrods and the other one at Aldi’s, but Spurs, only a week into the Transfer window, are just about to clinch a double transfer deal worth about 35M…….Angie baby disnae hang aboot, as well we know.

  • William Melvin says:

    Ach well,James.
    Not long to go till we all get the answers to a lot of questions relating to the seriousness the suits are taking the subject of shite transfer dealings and deliberately downgrading the squad.
    While the potless bigots at lpox hunt down every spare penny to invest in their team (and even cash that they don’t have) our lot stagger from one crisis to the next .
    It’s as if they don’t really care if we blow this league title !

    • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

      Even though they were on the bones of their arse they sniffed blood and when McGregors Penalty save from Big Samaras effectively won them the title in 2009 they still did invest, invest, invest and got three in a row while we stumbled with Mowbray and Lennon…

      Only them going bust and dying stopped them winning goodness only knows how many in a row –

      Thank heavens for HMRC taking the hard line again…

      If this is gonna be like January 2009 they could easily win this critical title –

      And if they do they will tramp the street dogshit from their Jackboots on our faces for years to come !

  • Brian Donaldson says:

    Not sure if this has been addressed here, but of the 10 signings in the summer window how many were actually Brendan’s choices? Surely given that several were in early doors they would have been Ange picks? I don’t think we can say Ange got it right every single time (just the vast majority of it) while also saying that we’re waiting for Brendan to make his own signings and mould his own team?

  • Woodyiom says:

    James – this transfer window is going to be the biggest anti-climax since the ending in The Blair Witch Project. We will bring in two players at most (one of which will be on January 31st!) and neither will be a permanent transfer. January is in truth generally a more difficult time to get transfers done in Europe (Ange’s acquisitions in Jan 2022 were mostly from Japan when it’s their close season so easy to get them in early doors, O’Riley arrived on the last day of the window) but as you say we known the ramifications of the Asian Cup since before the summer so even if we didn’t buy then our potential targets should literally have been lined up ready to buy on January 1st. Our first game is in THIRTEEN days time and there is no evidence we are close to signing anyone (even on loan). We’ve seen this foot-dragging story before and we know how it ends – only this time we have genuine rivals waiting to pounce on that error – and pounce they will, make no mistake!

    Losing Ange has been shown to be more than just losing the manager – he was the strategist behind the entire footballing operation.

  • Bob (original) says:

    Yes, it’s 8th January and no new signings yet.

    Even sevco has managed to bring in a new player – if only on loan.

    The only tangible communication about transfers-in so far,

    has been BR telling us we’re NOT getting a keeper!

    WTF have they been doing since the summer window closed…? 🙁

  • Jim Duffy says:

    I’m not sure that Rodgers is just simply happy to go along with what the lawells and the board tell him,after all he is on a fantastic wage ,why rock the boat,I just can’t get my head round why he puts up with exactly the same problems ie recruitment that made him scarper the last time.

  • Clara says:

    the worst thing that’s happened is having that 72 million in the Bank, PL has said consistently that its important to have money in the back in case there’s a year we don’t make the Champions League, we plan for failure not success.

    They would rather take a chance on not winning the league and if things go wrong dipping in to that pot for a few millions rather than spend money on guaranteeing success.

    Another problem we have is our wage structure, our top players are earning less or not much more than the players in the MON team, that’s not adjustment for inflation etc that’s like for like. We bring in prospects because we simply will not pay the wage any half decent player expects and can get elsewhere.

  • John S says:

    I’ve little doubt the manager has made the team position clear. No panic, no complacency, a job to be done.

  • Johnny Green says:

    I hear she might be going cheap, so can we not sign Cantwell for the ladies team.

  • Charlie Green says:

    Contrary to the perceived thought, I don’t think Rodgers is a thinker but sort of goes into denial and hopes for the best.

    It is as if he says I will play Mickey Johnson and hope he has a good game without trying to help him develop into a better player.
    It took Aberdeen’s coaches to bring the best out of Scales and Christie when they were out on loan. I think Johnson may benefit from a spell there.

    His denial as far as Joe Hart is concerned and is worrying.

    When Barkas was mentioned as a possible buy I went on to YouTube and had a look at him. I concluded that hes not a goalkeeper let alone a bad one.
    The next thing I heard the bord had paid £5 million for him.

    It is not rocket science as a good goalkeeper, like a bad one, is easy to spot but it seems something the Celtic backroom team are incapable of doing.

    When MacGregor was slightly struggling at Sevco, the media were on demanding a new goalkeeper and with the Hart announcement, not a peep. That tells a lot.

  • Peter Cassidy says:

    I would have thought that Rodgers would have a a list of players either from his contacts and our scout network players the team need .we will see very soon who they sign or nobody or maybe sell first or loan deals we will just need to wait and hope we get some Quality players in ??????.

  • Pat says:

    What happened to Dominic McKay? Someone who looked capable of bringing a fresh pair of eyes to the club just walked away.

    Agree on our transfer activity. The board are never in a rush to spend money, that daily interest rate is important!! The board got high on the early Asian success and now have left us in a bit of pickle with some going to be away for a few weeks and those left behind, bar Kyogo, nowhere near a jersey. I full expect perhaps one signing and journeyman striker from left field to come in of the Danny Ings variety.

    2024 is the Chinese New Year of the Dragon and am sure it will bring the luck and success associated with the board. Lucky to have a free run at playing FM with our club, and success despite their lack of footballing knowledge on the park and what players are required for us.

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