Perception Versus Reality Comes Back To Haunt Celtic Over Our First January Transfer.

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What did I say about perception versus reality? It does not matter what the truth is, it only matters what people believe. That is the essence of the term. That is why last night, even as we should have been relatively happy that the first bit of business of this window is just about done, Celtic cyberspace was instead convulsed by doubt and fear.

I think a lot of people need to calm down, if I’m being honest, and stow some of the nonsense they are slinging around. Khun is not being brought here to replace Liel Abada. The McGowan piece, which I said people should be scorning rather than panicking over, is purely coincidental. But I can easily understand why people might not believe that.

Two perceptions are clashing here. The first is that McGowan’s status as a spoon-fed Lawwell puppet precedes him. Which is why some people think his article was a softening up exercise to get us used to the idea that Abada will be gone before this window shuts. He is just the sort of useful idiot who might be steered towards a story like that.

Mark Wilson, another ex-footballer determined to prove that they make the worst possible pundits, weighed in with the other, comparing this signing to the Maryan Shved one. Perhaps he’s failed to recognise the difference; Maryan Shved was dropped on the manager just as he was dropped on the rest of us. Brendan Rodgers publicly scorned that signing. He is the guy making this one. See where the difference lies? See what the difference is?

The perception here is of a club with an incoherent transfer strategy, and that’s been created by past deeds under Lawwell and a chaotic summer. This is why I talked about this subject the other day; even when this board is doing right by the boss, they are going to find it very difficult to get a fair hearing, and being honest that’s their own damn fault.

They allowed this perception to take hold. Their own past deeds are being used against them, and their reputation for going behind the managers back has resulted in people seeing only what their own views on the board allow them to see. It’s not fair, but they do deserve it for feeding this perception instead of changing the narrative.

Another narrative, another perception, is that because he’s young he’s a project. But he isn’t, and I said that in the piece yesterday only to get people assure me that he is. Believe me, this player is being signed as a first team ready starter, and you will see him in the team on a regular basis. But because he’s young and relatively unknown people look at Celtic’s track record and assume that we’re taking another punt here.

And like I said, we have brought this on ourselves. This board has squandered any and all benefit of the doubt amongst large sections of our support. But give me a minute so that I can explain why I don’t believe that these views are justified this time.

Let’s start with Abada. I wrote about McGowan’s piece last night, so there’s no need to go over that again. The official word from Celtic, given not just to the bloggers but to the mainstream media, is that Rodgers sees Abada as a big player in the second half of the campaign and that Liel himself is happy here and has never, at any time, intimated that he wants a move.

As I said yesterday, Abada is a much stronger character than the likes of McGowan is giving him credit for. Celtic has looked after this lad and he appreciates the support and encouragement of everyone at the club … including the reception he got from the fans. And wait until he scores his next goal. He’s really going to feel the love from the troops.

As far as I’m concerned, that’s case closed. Abada is going nowhere in this window and unless there’s a ridiculous offer in the summer, I think he’ll be here for a couple of years yet. Rodgers wants to develop the current team into something special.

As to Wilson’ point about “stockpiling wingers”, it’s nonsense. He even went through the nonsensical contradictions in it himself by talking about how Forrest, Tilio and Mikey Johnston are probably not going to be at the club for a great deal longer. All true. All accurate. And if Forrest and Tilio aren’t going to be around much longer what does that leave?

It leaves us with five wingers, four of whom can play as strikers if the need arises; Abada, Palma, Kuhn and Maeda. But they will be our four first picks on the flanks. Yang is still too young and inexperienced and we’ve all watched him and we all know that. He’s the real backup player, those are the four we’ll rotate and who give us strength in depth.

Bear that phrase in mind; strength in depth. And bear in mind too that I wrote a piece some weeks ago looking at our wide options and concluding that we needed a better player wide right than Forrest and Yang. The managers sees what we do; we’ve been playing Maeda out of position for weeks because we don’t have real quality on that flank with Abada not fully fit. So now we do. Now we have five players in rotation for two spots.

We also have the option to play Palma as a number 10. Don’t rule that out. That puts another midfielder on the bench to give us options late in games. All this stuff comes to bear which is why a Champions League squad is 25 players and why an EPL squad is the same. The five substitutes rule gives us the opportunity to keep players fresh.

Two players for every position guys, and three reserves; one defender, one midfielder and one attacker. That’s what every club should be going for, and that’s what we’re going for here. It’s squad building 101 and Rodgers is now in charge of it.

Which brings us to Nicolas Kuhn himself, and the argument that he’s just another project player. But he isn’t. Ajax signed him as a project player, and then Bayern signed him because although he hadn’t cracked the Ajax side they thought he’d maybe crack theirs. Now, listen, there is absolutely no shame whatsoever in now getting into those teams … Rapid took a punt on him and he’s been there for 18 months and played regular football for them.

This guy is not a project. He’s been capped at every level except in the senior ranks for Germany. That and the moves to Ajax and Munich are a perfect pedigree. If we were signing him straight from their B side that would make him both a project and a punt, but we’re not, we’re signing him from the Rapid Vienna first team and they have no choice but to sell because they’ve gotten themselves into serious debt. But as I said, Rodgers wants this guy to play.

I read some comparisons the other day to Bolingoli because that’s where he signed him from; how pathetic that argument is. Just off the top of my head, we signed Tyler Blackett (yeah, remember him?) from Manchester Utd; does that mean that any player we sign from there in the future is bound to be a dud? Honest to God, who needs negative headline writers in the MSM when we have our fans talking this kind of rot about a player we’ve not even seen?

Hey, I know why I have faith in this signing. Because Brendan has to be all over it. If this is being done behind his back and against his wishes we’ll know soon enough and I would bet on public anger and private fury and wouldn’t be surprised if the whole season unravelled in the second half, but nobody at Celtic wants that so this has to be one he’s approved.

And looking back, I am confident than when the process serves the man in the dugout that it works better than when he’s given someone else’s players. I also know that looking at this guy he has a more impressive CV than most of the players we signed in the summer. The squad balance seems right to me. The deal is a good one and I hope we get it over the line.

One last thing; maybe the drum-beat has been missed, but over and over again in the past two weeks the message from people close to Celtic has been the same; we want a wide player, a striker and a left back. The left back deal will not be the guy we all thought it might be, and I suspect we’ll bring in someone on loan for that job.

But signing this guy does not mean that the pursuit of a striker has stalled or been ditched. Every source is saying the same; it has not. The search for a finisher who can not only backup Kyogo and Oh but challenge them both continues apace. We will soon find out how successful it has been, but I cannot stress enough the continuing importance of finding that player. Rodgers knows this too. Do not think that process ends the day this guy signs the contract.

This time the perception is not the reality. But one more time for the record; the Celtic board has sewn so much distrust that this is the inevitable thinking of a lot of the fans. They suspect and fear the worst, and they’ll continue to if that’s what Celtic serves up. The only way these guys get a fair hearing is when they start delivering the goods.

I personally think this is a decent start. Other people are going to need to be convinced. Only by continuing to back the manager and getting the big decisions right will people have their minds changed.

It’s doable. So, Celtic, get it done.

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  • Paddybhoy67 says:

    Well argued, James, and I hope you’re right. I guess the proof will be when/if we sign him and he performs as you speculate he will. The recent recruitment policy is the main reason why supporters like me are disillusioned by the board, and the Lawwell nepotism. I would love to be wrong on this guy, but his stats and playing history don’t seem convincing to me.

  • Jim Duffy says:

    Sorry James,I wish I had your optimism,if this guy is as good as your making him out to be ,why is no one else after him at such a low ball valuation,how much is he costing £3 million?

    • Johnny Green says:

      How much did Larsson cost?

      • Jim Duffy says:

        Yes Johnny but Larrson had played brilliantly for Sweden in the 94 world cup,so had much more experience at a higher level than this guy Kuhn, even so I’m sure Larrson cost £ 600,000 so not much cheaper than this guy at today’s prices .I can vividly remember seeing this guy with the dreadlocks playing at world cup,didn’t know him but he was superb even then,ie proven.big difference between him and Kuhn but hey hope I’m wrong and this guy works out for us ,I just get the feeling of liewell about this signing.

  • Matt says:

    My thoughts are that Abada will go, if not in this window then the next. No matter how much he loves the club, pressure from home and playing under Palestinian flags at Celtic Park is going to force his hand. Celtic fans need not stop their support for Palestine. It is just one of those situations with no solution.

    • michael mccormack says:

      “Just one of those situations without solution “
      Incredible ! Were you an ostrich in a previous life? Take yer head out the sand or in this case out yer arse , get behind SouthAfricas appeal to get Israel tried for war crimes at The Hague.
      God help humanity when there are morons like you who think like that .

      • Matt says:

        Wind your bloody neck in, you picked me up wrong. I totally support all outcry over Isreal’s treatment of Palestine. What I meant was Abada will never see it like that and Celtic fans should not stop flying the flags, so that is what has no solution!!! Abada will find our support for Palestine difficult. Please read things carefully before you call people bloody morons for christ sake

        • michael mccormack says:

          “Celtic fans need to stop their support for Palestine “
          Your words my man not mine , read your last response and then think about it !!!

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    “See where the difference LIES” ?

    Sentence of the week James and so poetically ironic when talking about The Scottish Football Media !!!

  • Big flynn says:

    How many clubs has this guy been with that punted him on and he’s only 23 : his transfer fees up to now tell their own story : maybe it’s early in the window but I for one would like to see the quality Brendan wants: champions League qualification this year is big bucks I’m told up to £60 million ; the other crowd will throw the kitchen sink at this and if they get it it will breath life into a dead club ; Celtic with there financial power have a chance to put their boot on there neck : come on Celtic speculate to accumulate this window could make the difference spend £20 mill to get the £60 mill to me winning the league is everything this season

  • Biffo67 says:

    Please James it’s sow NOT sew. Galatians 6-7

  • Fun time frankie says:

    On a different matter James ,I took my brother and my nephew to the airport the other day and my brother bumped into James Mc carthy (who he knows) and JM told my brother that Celtic offered him 30% of his contract over a year ago to quit,this just shows him to be a money grabbing bastard,he could have left and got another contract at a different club but was quite happy to stay and do SFA .

  • Davie says:

    Regardless of Rodgers wanting Kuhn or not, what credentials does Kuhn have, that answer so far can be written on a stamp.
    Jota not quoted in Saudi is an option I would explore, stumbling block would be his Wages but he’s not playing any football, would Jota accept a return to Celtic if a deal can be worked out, I’d happily give the Saudi team back the £25 million minus any add on clauses that Celtic imposed in the initial transfer.
    A Jota return would be ideal.
    At the very least give us a reason if he rejects Celtic, then we can move on from any hope now or in the future.
    I do mean a reason from Jota directly, not some Lawell side step.

  • JimBhoy says:

    Signing Kuhn allows the other players for that position to up their game, like we have seen this term with Scales. He had two new CB’s brought in for big money in front of him but knuckled down and took his chance. Yang seems a confident young man now over to him.

    Miovski has publicly stated he is happy at Aberdeen, sound like Aberdeen PR and a come and get me. I hope so.

    If Hatate is tempted to Spurs I hope that gets done soon and the funds recycled for an immediate replacement.

    Regarding Forest I think he may retire after his Celtic contract end.

    • Charlie Green says:

      My view about Scales, as with Christie, is that Aberdeen made him into the player has become.

      There is something wrong with the coaching situation at Celtic.
      They should loan Aberdeen, OH and Mickey Johnson to help improve them

  • KONY says:

    I don’t think it’s anything to do with perception that concerns fans over this signing more the fact that his numbers are poor to say the least

  • Martin says:

    He’s not a project, I agree, but he is a potential risk. I actually think he may bring a dynamic to our forward play we’re missing. But the perception is we’re crying out for a LB, striker and need to sort out our GK legacy. By not addressing these Celtic risk disquiet. Personally I think if we got a decent striker (different style to Kyogo) and this guy, but offloaded a lot of dead weight we are actually acting sensibly. I don’t expect several new faces. Our midfield issue is largely resolved by Bernardo and Hatate fighting for the 3rd place, and CalMac playing more as expected. Taylor is fine domestically and with the CB core we have we can be reasonably happy… Especially in the panic January vs sensible summer buying equation.

    I do think that the fans worries about a lack of foresight are well founded and I doubt we’re ready to upgrade LB and GK in the summer as things stand.

  • Bob (original) says:

    You’re absolutely correct: based on past experience,

    most [?] of the support doesn’t trust the Board and its

    motivations and decision-making – especially in the transfer market.

    “…Maryan Shved was dropped on the manager just as he was dropped on the rest of us.

    Brendan Rodgers publicly scorned that signing. He is the guy making this one.

    See where the difference lies? See what the difference is…?

    Unless I missed it: who has / where is it confirmed that Kuhn is a BR signing?

    On the face of it, it looks just like a Lawwell signing?

  • Kevin Dunne says:

    These rumours come from a mason society that spreads it,s filth far and wide , ex players can’t pick their own noses ,never pick out a good player, abada having to leave because of a conflict that has spanned 75years ,so do we now take it that all Israeli,s and palastine people will be looking for new jobs now as well . Load of Micheal knight served up by a lot of no mark useless wanted to be,s

  • Johnny Green says:

    Kuhn has served his apprenticeship, he is a time served guy and he is fully ready to establish himself with a big club like Celtic. Given his pedigree, I have no doubt he will be a roaring success with us and I am more than delighted that he is joining us.

  • Pat says:

    You understand the apathy towards Khun from many fans? Coming from an average Austrian side is not the quality and experienced player Rodgers has been banging on about. The fact he signed for Ajax and Bayern suggest he had promise. The fact he got nowhere near the first team, and now 24, suggests he has failed to show it . Rodgers won’t be putting all his eggs in those basket and as long as we get the striker we desperately need and a decent back up for Taylor then we should be okay.

    But it’s another uninspiring, on paper and data, from the board.

  • Johnno says:

    Think it’s more of a case of how humans in general don’t tend to like change, and football is no different, especially nowadays.
    As you pointed out James, there’s a 5 subs rule in place now, which in turn means that the front 3 are usually replaced during matches, which in turn you are looking for 6 front players for any given game?
    Of course that doesn’t allow injuries?
    So realistically, you should be looking at potentially 8/9 front players within a squad, and dropping to maybe 7 for European competition imo?
    But as a support we have become very snobby with success imo, as using the term project player is nothing more than a degrading remark to a professional player and certainly starting to go against this “A club open to all” being replaced with snobby?
    Take the current potential value of maeda,kyogo and Abada, 50M plus?
    And yet to many looking for the backup options to be of similar value to the team, if not there labelled projects, yet the money isn’t available to get the ready-made player’s worth the same value?
    That’s the real reality we face now, so having competition within the front 3, with options available in how those 3 are used is the way to be going, and don’t believe we are to far away from having the right balance with flexibility in the options available to ourselves now imo?
    Shame forrest and Johnston don’t seem to fit into the bigger picture, especially as its to our benefit that 1 of those available could be Scottish for CL squad football, but looks someway off presently?
    The midfield areas still isn’t completed yet imo either.
    Again potentially looking at having 7 within the squad imo, and 4 we seem more than happy with, especially with Paulo stepping up now but still only a loan signing still?
    Personally think iwata is decent enough cover for Calmac, which now looking more unlikely for a positional change for him either now imo.
    The Turnbull situation could do with becoming clearer now, especially when a potential replacement needs to be Scottish imo,to keep squad numbers right for CL football, so with that in mind, I think a return of Stuart Armstrong wouldn’t be a bad shout, but more likely for something to be looked at during the summer window?
    Holm I believe has potential, but may benefit from a loan move, which may require a loan signing in the right side attacking midfield area and potentially finalise that decision come the summer, depending on what could unfold for ourselves in midfield.
    Especially with so much speculation and remaining fairly unclear as what the solutions will actually be, but nothing to panic over now, but certainly some planning still required imo?
    Defensively we seem to be fairly content, and still need the LB position resolved now.
    Bernie isn’t the answer, and don’t like scales in the position either.
    Monty seems to have stopped developing as a potential player currently, which is a shame but a current recurrence within the club with our project youngsters still unable to develop into squad players for ourselves?
    The keeper situation won’t get addressed until the summer now, but personally don’t regard it as critical either, as Hart should hardly be overworked in the majority of the games within the remainder of this season either imo?
    For way to long our club has depended to hugely upon certain individual players within the team?
    This has to change as today’s game depends more upon squad depth than anything else, where good players do have bad days and loss of form?
    But the established players are allowed that luxury, but the remainder of the newer squad players are projects until excepted by our support?
    Snobbery of the highest order, I would say when they are developing into matching the big club demands and providing within the squad and developing within the quality required for ourselves?
    Made all that much clearer, when it’s taken our biggest so called project player 18 months to develop into one of our player’s of the season to date so far?
    So have we become snobs now and actually upgrading from entitled, and can’t see the development process involved to getting us where we need to be aiming for within the bigger picture of CL football?
    The money isn’t available to buy the likes that the bigger leagues teams have available to themselves,, so a totally different approach is still required.
    We are not as bad off as many are trying to make out, which will improve within our play as the confidence grows within the squad with better understanding and available options within it.
    Not completed yet, and possibly won’t get to the level Rodgers is hoping for until the summer, but certainly nowhere near as bad as to many are trying to claim either imo.

  • Mark b says:

    It’s clearly an underwhelming signing. We all know we need CH LB CF DM GK as higher priority…. That is the problem we have had these gaps for months and years in some cases

  • John S says:

    Rapid are mid-table. Only Kuhn’s stats to go on. At 24 he’s not that experienced (game time at a toppish level), infact Rapid have a 19 year old DM with better stats. However, if the manager sees a role for him…

  • Peter Cassidy says:

    We will see the lad soon so when he has played a few games we can judge if he is a good buy regarding a centre forward I think this is the most important player”we need just now. 0h I don’t think is good enough but have to be fair he needs more time on the field will be get it when he comes back from the current tourement.

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