What Makes This Celtic Transfer Window More Tense Than Previous Ones? A Lot, Actually.

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As we head into the closing days of the window there is a distinct lack of news, and a distinct lack of hope and confidence in the board to deliver. This feels more tense than a transfer window has felt in a long, long while and this is not about one thing. This is what people in the medical business call an aggregation of symptoms. It all adds up to trouble.

Why does this one feel significant? Why does it feel like this one is different than all the others that have come before? We’ve had foot dragging windows before. We’ve had times when we honestly didn’t believe the club would deliver for the manager, and on some of those occasions the club has entirely failed to do so. They were never like this.

To understand it we have to recognise, as I said, that this isn’t about one thing. There are a lot of different reasons for the anger and disquiet amongst the fans. So, let’s go over what those reasons are, one at a time, so that we might understand it better. For a lot of people, the picture is confused, and the media think we’re entitled, so let’s strip it all back.

First, we’ve been here before. This board has got previous for this. The guy at the top of the house has previous for this. He has restricted funds to every manager who has worked under him, even Ange to a certain extent. Don’t forget that we had a transfer trading surplus under him, just as we do right now. The only time we have done significant January business without any issues lately was when Ange was boss and had full control of the system. But in most other years, we drag our feet. Previous January windows have been a mess.

To see this one end in a big fat nothing would not, therefore, be terribly surprising.

Secondly, this is a close title race. Now, we’ve been in close title races in January before but on those years, we do tend to get the business done. Two years ago, in Ange’s first campaign, we went into the January window a couple of points behind in the league, and we knew we needed several signings to fill out the squad. We made three major ones; Maeda, Hatate and O’Riley. Not only were they done early, they all played crucial roles in delivering the prize.

This would be the first year where we’ve needed a major signing to give us an edge in a close title race where we’ve failed to do that since the distant Wilo Flood window. And that is significant because it brings me to the next point.

Third, the presence of Peter Lawwell has fans deeply concerned. That and his son being in the building and running recruitment. This is a massive part of why fans are worried. They see how well things were working when the manager was allowed total control and it is obvious that Brendan Rodgers does not have that degree of autonomy. As I wrote at length the other day, Lawwell’s reputation was built on years when there was no serious challenge to us. When he’s been faced by a determined team at Ibrox which knew it had to spend to get ahead of us and did so we have lost as many titles as we have won.

So, let’s talk for a moment about the critical one, the Wilo Flood window. The league race was tight that year and all the talk was of Celtic needing a striker. Lawwell dickered with Hibs over a couple of hundred grand for Steven Fletcher and instead of buying him we spent a small sum on a midfield player, when we didn’t need one of those, and who didn’t enhance the starting eleven. He was never going to be any more than a squad player. He lasted less than a year. We lost the title.

We then went on to lose the next two. Only the collapse of Rangers stalled that, and what makes it worse is that we now know that winning the league that year – had we not penny-pinched – would have netted us a Champions League jackpot and put Rangers into administration two years early; that cost us trophies and cash, just to save a few quid.

Fourth is the increasingly grim demeanour of the manager, and that scares a lot of us badly. He doesn’t sound confident at all. He has been sounding increasingly pissed off about the state of things for a while. He made it clear what his needs were in the summer. The board appeared to ignore them completely. He made it clear going into this window. They have not delivered. The last time we saw him this way was in the January before he quit for Leicester, when the board handed him a player he hadn’t asked for and plainly didn’t want.

Fifth is the prize on offer. That has us spooked because it is too big to be taking this sort of reckless gamble with. There is a realisation amongst our supporters that no matter how much money we have in the bank, we won’t sufficiently back any manager to take us to the next level … so it’s not so much that we need the money and want the money for ourselves which bothers folk. We want the money because if they get it at Ibrox they will do what we won’t; they’ll push out the boat and spend as much as they think they can get away with.

Lawwell doesn’t do well in those scenarios. He regularly misjudges what we need to stay even one step ahead of them over there. He has thrived as a flat-track bully. In a proper race we simply cannot trust him to keep us in front. If we screw this up it is not inconceivable that we’re handing them momentum for the next two or three seasons.

Sixth is that this shambles must be affecting the players. We know they are aware of what’s going on, they don’t live in a bubble, and if they believe that the manager is being undermined that’s not great. We now have a playing squad exploded to ridiculous proportions whilst still managing to have a starting eleven weaker than it was last season, and something has to give. McGregor spoke for the players when he agreed with the manager on the need for quality; it lifts the whole place and this has been one disappointment after another.

The players deserve that lift just as the fans do, and you see by performances that things are pretty low right now amongst them. With a couple of good additions to the team you will see morale rise and the performances with it. This is vital.

Seventh and finally is the complete absence of any news here. This is the first time we’ve been going into the last two days of a crucial window with not even the rumour of signings. There are contradictory stories in the media saying we’re still looking and others saying that we’ve basically abandoned even trying to find signings … the lack of hard information is not always a bad thing, but if we were really going to do business you would expect some whispers.

Instead the silence is deafening, and rightly or wrongly that feeds into the perception that our club just doesn’t have a clue, that nothing is really happening behind the scenes at all, that we’re foot dragging and letting the clock tick down whilst we fumble about.

There are people who accuse those of us who are concerned of being overly dramatic. One Celtic fan media editor thinks we are “bedwetters”, which is a shameful slur on concerned Celtic supporters many of whom have bought season tickets. I hope we never get to find out what some of these people have to say if we do nothing and lose this league.

See, the difference between us and them isn’t that they think we’re wrong and we think we’re right. It’s that we very, very badly want to be wrong. But our reasons for worrying are valid. Our concerns are not misplaced. The risks are real if we don’t get signings made, and the questions we are asking about the process are entirely legitimate.

We’re on the brink of a massive own goal here. A massive act of self harm. It would be crazy not to worry about it, and even crazier to deny that the threat is real.

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  • Paddybhoy67 says:

    … and Lawwell #2 makes it eight.

  • Tony r says:

    Hi James. I spat the dummy once before on the back of a comment made by DD about the fans having no right to complain. I wasn,t a complainer but was livid enough to cancel my season ticket for a couple of seasons over that comment, just because i didn,t complain it didn,t mean i wasn,t entitled to. I may end up looking like an entitled fan if we throw away this league but that isn,t the case.I just feel that this is too much of a piss take and have serious worries that maybe our board feel that it might be helpful for sevco to be in the champions league next year. If nothing changes this window and we lose the league then DD really needs to figure out who he needs in the building the most. Us, the backbone of the club or the Lawells. These guys are gonna be hated more than the past boards . One other note, maybe as fans we are to blame a little for allowing the club to hire Lawell jnr when he has no footballing knowledge for the job he was given. We wouldn,t allow us to sign first team footballers who have never played the game before

    • JimmyJam says:

      Why would it be helpful for Celtic that Rangers be in the CL next season?

      • Charlie Green says:

        I believe a certain blogger from across the water heard Lawwell say that Sevco being papped out of the top league cost Celtic £5 million in revenue so the theory is that PL wants to keep Sevco going at all costs for “Celtic;s sake”. However any sensible person can see that winning the league brings you £60 million which kind of negates any losses.

        PL’s logic is Give up £60 million that would help keep Sevco going to save £5million.


        • Captain Swing says:

          I’ve said for years that 2012 was a historic missed opportunity, not the handicap Lawwell saw it as. Instead of closing half a stand they could have offered season tickets to under 18s at pocket money prices for a few years to fill the place and engaged a whole new generation. We did not need to be locked back into a disfiguring rivalry with a toxic neighbour as part of a highly suspect “business model” perpetuated by tired, old white men without an imagination between them. Barcelona do not need Espanyol any more than Bayern need TSV 1860 Munich or Juve need Torino. Their big rivalries are with other major clubs in their countries. We could have done exactly that too. It would have taken time, but it could have worked, just as in the early 80s when Rangers were totally uncompetitive and the big matches were against Aberdeen, Dundee Utd and even Hearts.

      • Tony r says:

        Its only my opinion and could well be me looking for some sort of reason for what is happening at our club. We keep hearing how close to financial ruin that sevco are and DD and Lawell will want a rangers of any sort still here

  • Laurie Burns says:

    I know for a fact and have proof that lawell penny pinching cost us mcginn. He would have been a great signing and given us years of excellent service. Lawell and son are best signings rangers never made. He wants stiff competition and basically bank roles them. Signed 5 way agreement and denied even seeing it ! Hires parks coaches and a bigger asset to them than any of their signings. CL money this season doesnt just keep lights on but puts them ahead as they WILL spend it. We need to find a way of getting shot of lawell and son.

  • Tony B says:

    Careful James lest you be branded a bedwetter by the likes of Lawwell stooge Paul Brennan, and entitled, by his SMSM stooge Keech Jackson.

    Strange bedfellows indeed, but alike in terms of their hun like behaviour.

  • Frank Connelly says:

    given the overall control Ange had how could he possibly have accepted the job 2nd time around given he walked for the very reasons we are discussing now. Did he REALLY agree his requirements would be ignored again.
    If so that beggars belief

  • Gordon Raeburn says:

    This scenario was guaranteed as soon as Lawwell and Lawwell were in the building. They have no clue and even less talent. I wish they would both do the decent thing and feck off and while they’re at it they could take Desmond with them I absolutely despise the 3 of them.

  • bertie basset says:

    it was always my believe that the ten was handed to sevco on a plate , we were lucky to get to 9 with lennon and a team he had lost in the dressing room , they badly needed to keep foster but his nibs on the board would not fork out the money and brought in barkass to ” stand ” in the goal mouth the warning signs were there as they are now very obvious , all this came about over months and not over night , there are no excuse’s , we were done again by an inside job , He is well aware of the job the refs and var are going to inflict on celtic in the remainder of the season , the big question is why did he let it happen a second time under his watch

  • Bob (original) says:

    How the hell did sevco get Butland on a free?

    He’s easily their best player.

    …and was Butland even on the boy Lawwell’s radar? 🙁

    • Captain Swing says:

      It has been said that they are paying him eye-wateringly high wages, and given his lack of game time over the last few seasons it could easily have gone horribly wrong…. but it didn’t and if he is an integral part of a team that refinances their whole operation by winning this title, he’ll be worth every ha’penny.


    If we blow it and hand the Tribute Act a lifeline, what will the shareholders think?

    I know what most of the ordinary punters think and by extension most small private shareholders.

    But what of the Institutional Investers? What would they think? To actually come to the aid of your only serious competitor and sustain a potential financial loss of revenue of mega millions.
    What would they make of the nepotism, cronyism and unprofessionalism that appears to be the hallmark of all that we do?

    What about the Stock Exchange?

    What would they say about the current Chairman being the ex CEO and let’s face it his stage managed exit and subsequent return to an organisation where every Officer of the Company or person in a Senior role was appointed by him in his previous life (sic)? It may not be ‘ verboten’ but it’s highly irregular and reinforcies the impression that we’re dealing with a mini dictator or someone so full of themselves that they believe their vision for Celtic is the only show in town.

    It’s time Father & Son departed the scene. It’ll take Celtic several years to move on all the dross that Lawwell mini accumulated and at what cost to the Club. How does the squad size of 30+ players impact on the new FSR regulations?

  • SFTB says:

    When we drew with Hibs 0:0 in 2009, effectively throwing the league when we were in charge of it, in our 2nd last game of the season, we had the attacking power of Samaras, McDonald, Samaras and McGeady. We were able to bring on Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and Shaun Maloney and we still didn’t score. It is a fantasy of “What if?” revisionism to believe that Steven Fletcher would have won us that game.

    I was there. Steven Fletcher was playing. He stunk the place out even more than Sammi, Naka, Aiden, Skippy or our two subs did.

    Now, Leo Messi would have made a difference but Steven Fletcher- not so much.

    • James Forrest says:

      I love selective use of facts and that is beautiful.

      You pick ONE game as if that would have been the one that made the difference.

      It ignores so many, many other factors. One of them is basic psychology. None of those guys was regularly banging in the goals. You bring in competition to keep people on their toes. We had a squad of players who were coasting it and a new signing would have given them and the rest of the club a jolt. Fletcher was the tip of the iceberg that window. That window was characterised by the signing of a player in a position we didn’t need one and who made not one bit of difference to the starting eleven, and he was signed instead of a player in the position we needed one most. That’s the fact of it. If we didn’t NEED a striker in the window why were we trying for one? Why is it remembered as the Steven Fletcher-Wilo Flood window in the first place?

      Defend this dreck all you want. If this goes wrong I don’t want to hear a hard luck story.

    • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

      I think SFTB if Samaras hadn’t missed a penalty v Rangers (as they were known as then) at Liebrox near to that Hibernian draw then we probably would have won it – Fine margins and all that etc…

      Then Strachan goes and penny pinching in January Lawwell goes out and pays £2 million to tough negotaitar Jeremy Peace the chairman of WBA for that managerial dud Mowbray –

      I think Mowbray was far too nice a manager for to be operating as one in Glasgow and his ‘we take it on the chin and move on’ mantra was seized upon by Cheats with whistles and flags (no monitors in these days) and also seized upon by Rangers (again as they were known as then)…

      This ‘nicey nicey’ thing simply doesn’t work in Glasgow or Scottish Football as a whole and Mowbray should’ve been briefed on that but evidently wasn’t –

      Celtic are soft on the park and soft off it as well – and will be seen to be if we don’t strengthen in this window…

      However there’s still a bit of time yet to get business done –

      We are watching, and patiently await action and soon !

  • Michael McCartney says:

    After trying to be positive during the month of January I’ve given up any hope of a significant signing this month. Going into the next 3 away games over 7 days with one striker and our 2nd choice L/B who quite honestly makes GT look World class.
    Just seeing that South Korea have made the quarter finals and with Japan favourites to follow them tomorrow. It doesn’t look like there is much chance of our Asian players being back anytime soon.
    I find it hard to believe that a sizeable number of our supporters are confident of us winning the title. Some of the displays this season have been terrible, but interspersed with the odd good display. Luckily for us, two of them came against the Ibrox mob or we would be in crisis mode right now.
    The Lawwells and Nicolson along with BR are either gambling big time or are incompetent. I lump BR in with them because I can’t believe he could just stand by and say nothing when it comes to transfer targets.
    Let’s hope that by Friday morning I’ve been proved a panic merchant.

    • Jim Duffy says:

      Wouldn’t hold my breath about Friday morning Michael,and I get why you you lump Rodgers in with them,he’s either incompetent,impotent to speak up against liewell and the board,and I still can’t figure out why he came back under the same regime, maybe £3 million reasons though.

  • Dan says:

    I am concerned that the reason for this car crash window is that Rodgers has already told the board he’s done at the end of the season. He came back thinking things would be different but Lawell has shafted him and the board will now wait to see a new managers squad assessment. Only celtic are capable of this implosion with so much cash banked. This season should have been s formality.

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