With All The Top Celtic Stars On Long Term Deals We Could Keep Them Together If We Tried.

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There are two elements to building a good team, and one is often undervalued in relation to the other. The first element is obvious; to improve it steadily, bit by bit, year by year, player by player, and to always reach for the next rung on the ladder. The second element, the undervalued bit, is to retain the best players in order that you have a stable foundation.

Celtic is dreadful at both of these things, and has been for years. The picture has not changed in the decades I’ve been supporting the club. Celtic never builds on strength. Celtic is always selling its best players and replacing them with footballers they hope can grow into the role. They so rarely opt for the finished article or the player who can take us that extra step.

I have rarely seen a squad I like as much as this one, and every one of the top players would be on major long-term deals if Carter Vickers was to sign an extension, which is the story in the papers today. How great it would, what a foundation to grow on. If I thought for a minute that we would do I would be over the moon … we definitely can if we try.

There is not one member of the first team squad who has publicly made noises about leaving. There is a lot of speculation about some of them, but that’s all it is and we have a level headed group here that wants to be successful and knows this is a great environment to play and win things and in Europe test themselves against the best.

Rodgers should go round every single one of them and ask them to commit for next season. It should be his main objective, even above and beyond signing people. Because the chances are, if you don’t do it all you are doing is replacing people who have left and he knows well that Celtic won’t buy comparable quality. This is priority number one.

The board will never spend big to keep this guy, but Lawwell is on the record as saying that in a Champions League Group qualification year there is no need for us to sell either, and that’s the message we’ve been sending out all winter whenever a player has been linked away. We do not need to sell. We are financially strong.

But the summer looks to be the usual; a decent bid will arrive for a top player and before you know what has happened, he’ll be gone. The stunning sale of Jota in the summer came out of left field, but there would have been a major sale otherwise; the board pretty much admitted that recently, and we know better than to doubt it.

It is frustrating. All the top footballers at this club have signed new deals since Rodgers came in, all but big Carter Vickers and he’s next in line. That’s a clean sweep for the manager and proof of his ability to sell players on the club. He will have needed to articulate a vision, and there is no doubt that his will be robust. But will the club itself rise to meet the moment? That’s the problem. Unless he knows what he’s building on, how can he lay out the blueprint?

All this team needs is a handful of quality players to take it to the next level. A left back. A goalkeeper. One hard as nails midfielder and a striker. Two of those should be delivered in this window in order that the club can keep its word to the boss … if the other two arrive in the summer and we don’t lose a key footballer we’ll be in a very good place for Europe.

For once, just once, Celtic has to think about the bigger picture and not just another year when the balance sheet takes precedence. Rodgers needs to sit down with every member of the squad and find out whether they are committed to the club, and he should do it as soon as possible, and their commitment should be telegraphed to the media and the fans … and to other clubs who might believe they can come in and poach our best.

One more year of Champions League football and some of these players will prove themselves capable of playing for elite clubs. But that is only possible if the team as a whole succeeds, and that will be best achieved by everyone giving it their all for another campaign.

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  • Justso says:

    I’m confused James. Didn’t you just recently question CCV’s fitness/injury record in that he had missed many games this season two of which were in the CL? Didn’t you also say if the money was right you would happily sell him? Now here you are pushing for resigning him and for the board to push the boat out and get him on a new contract? To tempt CCV here we must have offered significant wages.

    So which is it? CCV misses too many games and should go if the right offer comes or CCV is integral to our future plans and should get a contract extension?

    Players signing new contract extensions are no more committed than they were the previous season. All it provides is a wage rise and more security. You can be sure an EPL or Saudi level offer would quickly negate that commitment. As BR has said if a player doesn’t want to be there he thinks it’s better all round to allow them to go. That is also part of Celtic’s signing policy. They will not be intransigent and retain a player who sees his career elsewhere. If players were to see that intransigence it would make them think twice about coming in the first place. Do you really think our new signing sees himself here for the next 5 1/2 prime years of his career? He wants to do what many others do. Play well here and move on to a better league. A “shop window”. No one needs a player being around who would thinks he can increase his take home pay elsewhere and unfortunately any team in the EPL and some in the Championship can do that. In addition there is no point giving a few players wages way above other teammates as it creates discontent in the squad. You can be sure my commitment to a company would be tested if I knew colleagues were earning much more than me.

  • Paul Mac says:

    Surely to god if we make next seasons Champions League and bank the reported 60 million , that would be enough for our board? Spreadsheet CFC should be content with that ? And who knows with these “quality” additions maybe just maybe we could win a few matches (don´t forget this time we will be competing against a “pot 4” team also) which would increase the coffers even further .. this is without having to punt anyone!
    Now do we have a board who thinks in that way or will they grab the first decent offer for a player? As Lawwell supposedly quoted that we had to prepare for NOT getting into the Champions league which is a very negative point of view don´t you think? But it has been ever thus, supposedly people claim that we have done well under his previous watch, which partly I can understand, HOWEVER since 2012 we have had the opportunity to bank at least 300 Million (10 seasons of practically no challenge to the Champions league riches – 10 x 30 million a season give or take) without selling a SINGLE player. And if that had happened and the odd sale of a player who had gone stale (as it IS important that at least 1,2 players come in and freshen up the squad year on year) then where would we be now? But as we all know we failed miserably to make the signings needed in time to qualify !

  • Brattbakk says:

    100% agree, if a big club comes in with big money then fair enough, you don’t want to stand in the players way. If we can have that stability with a couple of quality additions we really could do something to be proud of in Europe instead just hoping to avoid embarrassment. If we do impress and the team gets broke up as a result of that then so be it, we’ll have money and an improved reputation for a rebuild. We can dream…

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