Celtic Must Not Slow-Walk The Manager Just Because Ibrox Will Rebuild On The Cheap.

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The news, which broke earlier, that the Ibrox club has renewed the contract of Leon Balogun – 35 years old and not getting any younger – for another year is being greeted with much hilarity by most Celtic fans, and I have to admit that it tickles me as well. Ibrox fans need to stop kidding themselves on about a clearing out of their dreck. A lot of that current squad will be there next season for one reason above all others; they don’t have much choice.

Some of the mad fantasies doing the rounds on their sites really are up there with the craziest stuff ever written on those forums. They anticipate a full-scale clear out of the dressing room, the one they are openly advertising as being filled to the brim with “losers” and non-triers. These will be players who aren’t considered good enough to mount a successful challenge in the SPFL. So who in the Hell is going to pay big money to buy them?

Without some major sales, they aren’t doing any sort of rebuild worth the name. Which means that they’ll add a handful of players in a couple of positions but that overall their fans will be watching the same set of players. I’m happy to bet that Tavernier and Goldson will be at the club for starters; they are two of the highest paid players in this league and nobody is going to pay transfer fees for them. The same will apply to Cantwell, Davies and others.

When you listen to what their manager has said, and you see them doing a deal like this, and trying to get fans excited over signing a defender who has been playing in Cyprus, you can see the outlines of what this “rebuild” is going to look like.

And that has me slightly concerned, and I’ll be upfront about it. Not because I fear what they are going to do, but because I fear that the untrustworthy and low ambition Celtic board might, again – AGAIN – conclude that it can get by relying on their incompetence. Not only is this a dangerous thing to surmise, but it absolutely kills any chance we have of progress in Europe.

The less they are able to do over there, the less our own directors seem to think they need to do in order to progress this team. I know full well there are people sitting in our boardroom who look at our winning the double and think that vindicates the strategy. The only thing it vindicates is the need for our club to have an elite manager at the helm, someone skilled enough that he can tidy up the mess they’ve made. That’s what Rodgers has done this season.

Not a single director or member of the executive over his head can claim to have played a positive role in the winning of those trophies. Not with a straight face. As a result of that, I think the chairman should be self-aware enough to step back and give the role to someone new. He is a busted flush. His son departing stage left cannot be enough. Mark Lawwell did not work in a vacuum. Those above him signed off on that disastrous strategy which cut the manager out … it would be a travesty if he was the only one who felt he had to fall on his sword.

In the last few weeks I’ve written very positively about the coming summer and the likelihood of major business being done, and each time I’ve done that I’ve had a torrent of messages, comments and emails asking me how I can trust this board; the short answer is we can’t and I don’t, and especially not the chairman, whose very presence in that role makes it impossible for a great many Celtic fans to trust that the club will fully back the boss.

Rodgers is an exceptional manager and leader of this football club, and his vocal critics should be frankly embarrassed by the torrent of garbage they tipped over him in the course of the season, a season which has vindicated him in full. We’re not going to forget who they are, even when, like Keevins, they are scrambling to rewrite history.

That he has produced even with a weakened version of last season’s side is amazing to me. That he has seen off one Ibrox guru manager already and has his replacement on the brink is absolutely incredible, almost beyond belief, but nobody at Celtic Park should be using it as a justification or an excuse to tailor our summer around the low end of expectations.

If my understanding of this is correct – and it’s there in the sacking of Mark Lawwell and Daddy’s statement in the last set of accounts about how having all this money in the bank whilst the team stagnates isn’t a great look – Rodgers has won his internal battles as well as those on the pitch. Even Lawwell Snr has been forced to acknowledge his position within the club and to offer his plan full support. Rodgers’ achievement in winning these trophies should make him unassailable, and in a perfect world those things would be enough to allay our fears.

But once again, it is the shambles at Ibrox which concerns me most because when we’ve seen that in recent years the choice has never been to double down and really push them towards the kind of hard choices which destroyed the last club to play out of that stadium.

Those choices, I want to visit at another time in another article. For now, let’s just say that I don’t think this is about lacking the requisite desire to see them finally cast into the long dark shadow of Celtic forevermore; it’s just a lack of a imagination and a lack of overall ambition. These people are content with being the big fish in a small pond, and their arrogant dismissal of the idea that Celtic can ever be more than that is at the heart of my concerns.

We can leave Ibrox behind by doing less than our best, if this is how their “rebuild” is going to pan out. But we are selling ourselves short. We will not progress on the bigger stage as long as doing the bare minimum here at home is the norm. We gambled this year and almost paid a momentous price for it, and I don’t expect that level of stupidity again … but half measures and settling for? I can see those happening all too easily if it looks like a shambles across the city.

We need to be on alert this summer. We need to listen carefully to the words that the manager uses and stop listening to the white noise in the background. We need to be serious about our scrutiny of the club and the business it does, and we must be absolutely ferocious in holding it to account at the slightest sign that it intends to keep us in the slow lane.

The manager deserves the backing, and we need to make sure he gets it.

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  • Magua says:

    Peter Lawwell should be nowhere near Celtic Park. Anyone would think that he is trying to wreck our chances of success, in order to help out the Ibrox franchise.

    Hail Hail.

  • Gerry says:

    Another good article James. Let’s hope we can properly build on this and progress to the next level.
    I thought I’d try a wee Celtic poem !

    On Saturday, we won the cup, another Derby win.
    Sevco’s players were full of tears, their medals in the bin.

    The Moral Victory game before, the cup was in their sights,
    No joy for them, as Idah pounced and Tic Toc ripped his tights.

    Big Phil was shouting at his players, after the game was done,
    “Another moral victory,
    I’m glad that I’m a Hun! “

    Another rebuild in the summer,
    Better, than before.
    He’s just confirmed, yet again, he’s a waffling Belgian bore.

    Our Celtic team, another trophy,
    With plenty more to cheer,
    As Sevco go into meltdown,
    And know there’s more to fear!

    Let’s all enjoy the summer
    and hail our bhoys again,
    Build on what we have right now, and increase the Sevco pain.

    So over to DD and our board, give Brendan what he may need
    The only thing that will stop our team, is your negligence and greed !

    • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

      Excellent effort Gerry !!!!

      And another good article from James…

      The Celtic Blog is a truly fantastic forum indeed !

      • Gerry says:

        Thanks Clach…hope you’re well !

        • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

          Aye Cheers Gerry !

          Apart from nearly being sick yesterday from an admittedly self inflicted booze hangover – Life’s not too shabby…

          What a time to be alive as a Tim Alloy !

          My goodness the six trophlyess season’s seem a long time ago now thankfully !

  • brian cavanagh says:

    Hi James

    you ask the question will leopards change their spots? In a bizarre sense if we had lost the league the cheque book would have been out – so how does the club celebrate th achievement of BR and team saving the board – and who will put the boards feet to the fire? Who is going to challenge Lawell ? I fear a repeat of last year -especially after the evidence you have outlined of the iBROX rebuild

  • Des McClure says:

    Couldn’t agree more
    Not strengthening while in front will be Lawell’s legacy and I firmly believe that our club will never be all it can be until he and probably Desmond are gone
    It looks like you say that Rodgers has won the battle but only time will tell

  • Jim M says:

    The fact Brendan Rodgers hasn’t played the project players unless they were required to be stand ins must surely be a statement in its own to lawwell.
    He’s saved him a shit load of grief by winning the double with 1 hand tied behind his back while lawwell decided he knew better with these signings.
    Anyone with any sense would count themselves lucky and learn from their mistakes.
    Hopefully lawwell leaves or steps back into the shadows and let’s the manager take the club forward with total control and the backing over the players we need to enhance the squad and have a go in Europe.
    Anything else will be an unforgiving slap on the face of him and the fans.

  • Roonsa says:

    Well said, James. This message needs to be force fed to every one of that board. We can only pray that the prospect of Brendan leaving if the same as last year happens is enough to keep them on their toes. But I really don’t know – I honestly don’t know what it will take for these people to understand that they are playing with fire.

    I thought sending out Santa on league trophy day was a good sign. It was recognition from the board that they knew we weren’t happy. And it was a sign that they hadn’t forgotten what was said only a few short months ago.

    However, to temper that optimism, I also remember feeling so upbeat after Brendan joined us last year. Surely promises have been made we were all telling ourselves. This is going to be great. We’ll have them trailing in our dust …… etc etc.

    This is make or break for me. I can’t go through another summer transfer window like last year’s.

  • Melvin Udall says:

    James, Peter Lawwell is an accountant and having any version of Rangers in the league is more profitable for Celtic and Scottish football than not having them.

    As proven by the low Celtic Park attendances and reduced demand for season books when they weren’t there, until Brendan came to us obviously. That’s when the queue for season tickets started up again.

    Sky, BBC etc want them around as it possibly doubles their viewing figures for Scottish football matches.

    Even Dermott Desmond said he wants them around. Blasting them into oblivion is not something they will pursue. As sad and shitty as that is for us fans, I t doesn’t make business sense to those arses.

    I’d like nothing more than Lawwell to gtf and the club to aspire to progress in Europe, but can’t see it happening anytime soon with Desmond and Lawwell at the controls.

  • Melvin Udall says:

    Oh! And the Huns to die AGAIN!

  • Bob (original) says:

    Would we all be stupid to expect the Board to change its ways…?

    BR is arguably in a stronger position than last summer.

    If he’s not getting the right answers, he should be criticising the Board publicly.

    …but, he probably wouldn’t.

    But, he could demand of DD: either PL goes – or BR walks?

    PL SHOULD be stepping down imminently anyway,

    for having his unqualified son given the recruitment role.

  • Effarr says:

    The ones with the power, the ST holders, will dive in to renew their tickets and all will be well;
    LawWELL. Power unused is power abused right enough.

  • Michael taggart says:

    We don’t need to spend much jus enough to ceep the support happy as long as we win the league
    We don’t want to be to successful or we could attract
    Big money and lose control after al we are the Celtic board so we must be important board room talk

  • Charlie Green says:

    Sevco won the league cup, came a close-ish second in the league and lost the Scottish cup by one goal. They are one player short of being a successful club and that is a goal scorer and the fact that Dessers is injured is bad news for Celtic. They might manage to find the money for Shankland and then it would be game on.
    Know your enemy.
    Every year Celtic meet teams from Eastern Europe with far less money and supporters and come up against wingers, goalkeepers and midfielders who are a cut above what they have.
    I don’t think Lawwell ever thinks to enquire about these guys who have actually proved themselves at European level and, I would imagine, jump at the chance to play for Celtic.

    • James Forrest says:

      Game on lol …

      If you think they are only short a goalscorer you are smoking something very, very strong.

      They are MILES off it. Miles.

      • Woodyiom says:

        James whilst one player short may be slightly over egging it by Charlie he’s right about the “know your enemy” comment. The team that plays out of Ibrox is not that far behind us – statements like MILES off it are the typical hubris that comes out of Ibrox and the exact reason why our Board don’t think they need to spend big.

        We gained ONE point over them in the 31 league games that both teams played since the Mooch got sacked. We know they are a p**s-poor team yet just over 6weeks ago they were favourites at the bookies to win the title !!! The rest of the SPFL are unfortunately cannon fodder so both teams can win most games most weeks which means it comes down to the games between us. Yes we have better players, yes we have a better manager BUT there are only 4 league derby games played and anything is possible – own goals, flukes, wicked deflections, goalkeeping howlers, poor refereeing decisions etc etc – which could easily result in them winning both their homes games meaning if we win ours it comes down to GD which is clearly not miles apart.

        Don’t get sucked into the “we’re streets ahead of them” thinking. We are OFF the park but not yet ON the park. We should be but we’re not and we won’t be until the finances are used to get the real quality on the park that we expect with 3 or 4 genuine CL level signings. Unless that happens they are capable of catching us which is all they need to do to become successful domestically.

        • Charlie Green says:

          As far as Celtic are concerned, every year they have the opportunity to invest say, £30 million on upgrading players, inc wages, that would guarantee winning the league and £60 million at the end of the season.That is a hell of a return on an investment.
          Anything else is false economy.

  • Joe McQuaid says:

    I’m hoping the board see the new CL format and realise the increased money available if we are more competitive. And the damage to the Club’s standing (brand in their language) if we are seen languishing at the foot of a 36 team league table…
    We need also to build our country coefficient to get back to automatic qualification in 2025/26 for the league winners.
    Becoming serial competitors in the new CL needs to underpin our thinking going forward. And we need to adjust our financial budgets accordingly – not David Murray style with other people’s money but with football ambition allied to sustainable financial planning.

  • DixieD says:

    Watch this space, in about 6wks time when we’ve signed a goalie and maybe one other, they’ll be churning out the usual mantra about how difficult it is to get deals done when there’s a major tournament ongoing!!

  • Joe McQuaid says:

    I hope that our board has woken up to the reality of the new CL format and the opportunity that this presents if we show the desire to be series participants in the competition.
    The board needs to align our football ambitions with financial budgets that take account of what’s on offer and what it will mean to be competitive – not David Murray pie-in-the-sky stuff with other people’s money. We don’t want to be languishing at the foot of a 36 team league table – for the board that won’t do the “brand” much good.
    We also have work to do to improve our country coefficient to secure access in 2025/26. We need to think medium to long term and put our financial strength to work.

  • Joe McQuaid says:

    That should be serial and not series

  • DannyGal says:

    I wish the board would realise that if they target making an impact or even a marked improvement in Europe, then the domestic “challenge” will take care of itself.
    Brendan has already reiterated his stance on bringing in quality over quantity, either directly or by saying things like he’s now looking forward to bringing in the quality he needs during the summer. I get the impression it sometimes sounds more like a plea for support from the board rather than an assumption he will get that support. If he doesn’t get it then would it be surprising if he left when another good offer comes up?

  • Ecky says:

    I do believe Brendan will get some support from the board, but I don’t think we as Celtic supporters are going to enjoy the new head of referee’s. And all the var fups. Goalie striker, and central defender? Left back, fast replacement for Matt. And whoever else wants to leave. £30m for Matt, well done price him out till the winter, hopefully, next summer. Then who? If we play as bad as we did last Saturday, we will get torn apart by any half good teams. That’s in Scotland and Europe. All that passing back still scratchings my head, ever since Brendan first came to us. We will need two centre half’s, and a blinking great Sinclare winger. To keep us up the top end of the pitch. We’ve all seen what we get if we don’t win home and away in Europe, nowt.

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