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Haksabanovic And Oh Were Always Better Moving On. Both Need To Be Replaced.

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Since Peter Lawwell took the chairman’s position at Celtic, the first team playing squad has gotten progressively weaker. Track the “progress” if you don’t believe me. This week it got weaker still. Haksabanovic is gone. Oh is next, and that could follow within days.

We won the double last season in spite of this systematic weakening. The one season where Lawwell was completely absent from a place of responsibility and power, we rebuilt the squad, signed a rash of top footballers for it and the moment he was back in place we started to move backwards. This is not an article about cause and effect. The timeline establishes these things as a fact. I will leave it up to the reader to decide whether these two are connected.

But let me offer one simple observation; those who claim that Lawwell’s role is some kind of emeritus position, and that he wields no actual power are lying. I don’t know whether they are lying to the rest of us or primarily just lying to themselves and thus telling us what they believe to be true, but it is a manifestly absurd proposition and it should not be taken seriously. As long as Lawwell has an office at Celtic Park, he will have influence.

A certain amount of trimming the fat had to be done in this window. We all know this to be true. The club’s decision to hire Lawwell Jnr as our head of recruitment was a costly mistake which has to be fixed, and two of the most high profile of the early Lawwell signings have been dispatched by a manager who isn’t in the least bit impressed by them.

I have no doubt at all that others will follow them out the door, and so one step at a time we are putting this thing right. It is only one part of the equation.

Even as we clear out the failures of Lawwell Jnr’s tenure, we have to start making the signings that show not only that the lessons have been learned but that we are determined to finally make progress forward instead of backwards.

Both of these players have to be replaced. Oh is going, and that means that we’re doing more than just trying to find a replacement for Idah if in fact we’re unable to secure a deal for him. We need two new strikers instead of one. Haksabanovic was a signing who strengthened the numbers we had available for one of the strongest Celtic sides in living memory … we don’t get to lose that from the squad without replacing him too.

Whatever fees we get for these guys must – must – be reinvested in the team and used to source players in those positions. And the work on taking this squad forward should already be well underway. The regression in the quality available to the manager in the time Lawwell Snr. has been chairman is both extraordinary and scandalous, and whilst I appreciate that these two were nothing but a drag on the wage bill, as the manager had no plans for either of them, this has to be the moment where the weakening of this side stops and the strengthening of it begins.

There’s not going to be another summer like the last one. It threatened the fabric of the club, and the manager will not stand for another one like it and neither will the fans. It is good business to make a profit on Oh, and whilst I don’t know for sure, I suspect we’ll have made back at least half of what we paid for the wide man … when it comes to making sales, we’re far more adept than we’ve recently been at making signings.

And this needs to be the last weakening of this team without some corresponding strengthening. When Oh goes we will have lost four players from last season’s first team squad and one of the squad players in Haksabanovic, and that simply cannot continue.

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  • Roonsa says:

    After I listened to your excellent podcast the other day, I caught the Celtic podcast bug. The best one (or, at least, the one I enjoyed most) was the latest edition of ACSOM. The main guy’s (I forget his name) view on Lawwell senior is one that differs from what most Celtic fans think. He opines that he has been a positive influence on the club. He also asserts that getting the transfers right this window is more important than getting business done quickly.

    I am not sure I agree with that. Of course we have to get it right. That applies to all teams, not just Celtic. But surely the recruitment people at Celtic will have known where to strengthen and potential targets. I would have expected at least one new face in the door by now.

    I would love to think that the people with influence at Celtic Park (and you are 100% correct to suggest that is very much the case with Peter Lawwell) are working hard behind the scenes and will do a big ta-dah later in the window. But experience tells me that is not the case.

    As as aside, another hypothesis offered on ACSOM is that Celtic could be playing the long game and waiting to cash in on the inevitable crash / bust that is coming England’s way. I would fkng love it if that happened. But as the ACSOM man correctly stated, we are now all victims of instant gratification culture. We all want Celtic to be a proper world class team now.

  • John says:

    Lawwell has the blessing of his mate Desmond, both need to be gone.

  • brian cavanagh says:

    Hi James

    Brilliant article -I wonder what the PLC think of the malign influence of Lawell? Although the club is profitable, to use one of my dad’s terms ‘money is left on the table’ and under his regime there could have been more return for shareholders with a better Chair/CEO team. What intrigues me is why is he still there? His interference in player purchase has directly resulted in lost revenue through failure to qualify from CL sections 2 years in a row. In other PLCs the Chair/CEO would have been sacked. And despite the big revenue going through the club Lawell operates with a ‘sweet shop’ mentality. We will make no progress until he is gone -and we are in danger of losing BR if Desmond doesn’t deal with Lawell or bring in a strong counterweight to his power.

  • Jay says:

    I’m slowly getting to the point where I think this summer is going to be a repeat of last summer. My only holding thought currently is players we are interested in are on International duty & so availability for discussions are not present.

    I do however feel there are deals we could be making currently. Bernardo should be over the line. We allegedly got the fee down to an acceptable amount & the wage thing has to be nonsense with the fact he has been at the club & would understand the limitations of Celtic wages.

    I also think we should have made a prompt move for Scott McKenna, he done well for Scotland & showed he still has a good turn of pace. To me he could be great side by side with CCV.

    The longer it goes with zero incomings it feels like we’re just waiting & waiting hoping for someone to fall on our laps which is just abject failure in recruitment.

    I so want to have the belief you have yourself James that Brendan is in charge of signings this summer but I feel that may not be the case & PL is still keeping the clamps firmly down on the piggy bank. It seems Brendan has likely got his way with outgoings but he must be wanting signings in before heading off to the US for pre season.

    2 weeks tomorrow the window has officially been open. 33 Days since the last game of the season was played. Something should have happened by now. Most of the time the opening of the transfer window doesn’t even matter with teams announcing deals well before this & that just becomes the day they will arrive.

    Hope I’m wrong & will delightfully eat humble pie if I’m proven wrong it just feels the lack of or appearance of lack of activity is as loud as last summer.

    I dare say being linked to every GK in Europe hasn’t helped the mentality because it’s name after name being linked then debunked.

  • Johnny Green says:

    We are not weakening the team just now, we are ridding ourselves of the players that are not quite up to the job, lacking in important parts of the game, whether it is skill related or attitude related. Notice I did not mention the word deadwood, for they are all decent enough players, just the wrong fit at this time. Brendan is in the process of moulding the team to his own high standards and we should be glad he is trying to clear the decks in preparation for the coming season. There are no worries from me about outgoing players, not yet anyway, and I’m looking forward to our new recruits as things develop.

    • Michael Collins says:

      Hope you are right Johnny. I just don’t trust that pocket filling scumbag Lawwell. James is right in everything he has said about him.

  • Gordon Raeburn says:

    As I said yesterday James while Lawwell is in the building things will never be done properly. Add to that the fact that Nicholson is the Invisible Man and you can see how this window is likely to pan out. No proper Celtic fan should be under any illusions this could turn out to be another disaster and it’s all on these two mainly. I wouldn’t be surprised if Brendan walks again and I for one wouldn’t blame him. The fact that we won the double has played right into the penny pinchers’ hands. I can’t tell you how much I despise them and the board.

    • Jim M says:

      Agree Gordon, lawwells ambition is winning the league with the least amount of money to spend , all he,s interested in is banking money and his shareholders bonus payments, no ambition in Europe and seriously damaging Brendan Rodgers ability to work as a manager .

  • JimBhoy says:

    Brendan has always been late at getting players in, said that in an earlier blog. Get the right first team ready players and I’ll be happy but we have to have them ready for a crack at Europe also.

    You reap what you sow and getting by the group stages with the money involved would pay for all our new players.

    Hope the Huns have to fork out £2m for the Aberdeen lad.

  • Gerry says:

    Again, it’s inevitable that our fanbase are getting decidedly more nervous with every passing day of this transfer window.

    I am an optimist by nature, and I tend to believe we shall get the requisite quality in the door, regardless of PL’s continued presence at our club.

    You would have to believe that with the current clearing of the decks underway, ( of those players not fancied by BR,) then plans must be advancing on incoming recruits to our squad.

    Of course, we all want to hear some positive news, and soon…so let us hope that our club is allowing our lazy SMSM to print transfer target stories, based solely on their usual copy and paste click bait headlines, whilst getting the genuine recruits lined up quietly.

    I think for now, we all have to keep our faith in our manager, and equally, for a very positive transfer window!

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