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Brendan Has Big Decisions To Make About Celtic’s Summer Signings From Last Year.

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As we head towards the opening of the transfer window, there are two big questions; who are we going to bring in this year, and who are we going to keep from the squad which just won the title? The first of those is shrouded in mystery. Rumours abound. Almost all of them will be rubbish. The latest has us linked with Newcastle’s current number two keeper. We’ve been linked with so many keepers I can’t take any of these stories seriously.

The second question is just as complicated, but we can at least make some judgement as to who is likely to survive what will almost certainly be a major cull. The manager has little use for some of these players. He may take this summer to make a handful of decisions on them, but he’s seen some of them up close enough to have already done it.

If we start going through them one at a time that might help us to come to some conclusions. The news for almost all of the players is that they’re future looks like it lies elsewhere, and in some cases that is clearly a sizeable regret. Because at least two had promise.

We’ll start with Tomoki Iwata, just to get that out of the way.

We had a requirement to buy him as part of the deal the season before. He’s been a good signing, but then he should be because he was an Ange pick, and one of the best players in the J League in the year prior to our deal. He’s proven to be both versatile and skilled. I like him a lot. He has a future and the manager has made that clear.

The first signing proper, made before we had a manager, was Odin Thiago Holm. He played 12 games in total. He did not score a goal. He featured just nine times in the league. He was not sent out on loan in January, as he might have been, but he ended the season about as far from the team as it’s possible to get, and for most of the run-in he didn’t even make the bench.

I can’t see on what basis we signed him. In hindsight, this should have been the first warning that we were not going to enjoy what followed. Someone at our club authorised this when we didn’t even have a head coach to sign off on it; this was the start of it.

The signing itself screams “project” and at £2.5 million – twice what we paid for Matt O’Riley – it’s absolutely indefensible to spend that in those circumstances. It’s the kind of expensive folly which Mark Lawwell simply could not have survived. Holm has made no impact except to our bank account and to the reputation of the guy who signed him.

I have to wonder if we’ll see him in a Celtic shirt at all next season.

The second signing was Marco Tilio. £1.5 million. No experience in Europe, eligible to play in the Asian Cup, in spite of a clear need for the window to avoid players who ticked that box. He had never played at a higher level than the Aussie league, and this was one of the players Rodgers was handed and expected to make something out of. He played twice for us. He’s miles away from first team football at our club, and has no chance of being considered even a squad player.

Yang was the third signing, another one eligible to play in the Asian Cup and, like Tilio, was virtually guaranteed to be playing in the competition. This is when you start to see the utter stone stupidity of the people who undertook last summer’s “rebuild.” We were already primed to lose Kyogo, Oh and Maeda. The attacking positions would have been the weakest part of the team in that event … so the signings of Tilio and Yang were scandalously stupid.

Yang at least has something. Potential. You can see it. He’s physically strong and he has good feet. I like him. He’s obviously not the finished article and needs some work, but he’s a decent squad player with the potential to be more. He’ll stay. I have no doubt of that.

Kwon. A million quid for a second tier player from Korea. All the example you ever need of someone at our club playing Football Manager with real money. As mad in its own way as the signing of Tilio from a team in Australia. An unjustifiable outlay, and that he has had a semi-successful loan spell at St Mirren doesn’t change it.

Kwon is 23. In that age bracket you are not going to be “discovered” playing in the second tier in Korea, a country that is as extensively scouted – especially by clubs in Germany – as any on the planet. That should be obvious even to the most gushing Lawwell fan-boy. He is certain to be sent back out on loan as soon as soon as we can find a club who will take him.

Next is Nawrocki. £4.3 million. Jesus. That’s a white-knuckle number considering we ended the season with Liam Scales and Stephen Welsh ahead of him in the queue. In my view there’s no way back from that for this guy. Rumours that he just isn’t fit enough to play the way we want are rife. A signing that, for that cost, has been disastrous.

I don’t see that he has a future except as the backup to the backup, and that alone makes it imperative that we start looking to offload this guy as quickly as possible. There’s just no way that he’s staying at Celtic Park when he can’t get into the team ahead of Liam Scales, and with Rodgers actively looking for another defender that’s the curtain call for this guy after just one campaign, and a very disappointing number of matches in it.

The same applies to the next signing we made, a panic buy in the aftermath of the departure of Starfelt. Having spent £7.3 on two centre backs, and still having Carter Vickers at the club, I think all of us were entitled to expect that we’d be in the strongest position, in terms of our central defence, in a long, long time. And we’re looking at another rebuild instead.

Lagerbielke is not a Rodgers type player. Nothing shows more clearly the complete stupidity of the manager allowing other people to run the signing policy than this does. Had Rodgers been the central figure in the process – instead of saying that he would work with who he was given – he would have asked pointed questions, done his research and ruled this out as a bad deal before it was even close to completion.

Much aggravation would have been spared if he had. There is zero chance that Lagerbielke will be at Celtic Park next season. Zero chance. We’re probably looking at taking a loss on him as well, and I think Nawrocki probably also. An utter waste of time and money.

Luis Palma has been a massive disappointment. Signed with much promise and some stupendous stats, he has flattered to deceive in spite of some good performances in big games and what’s actually a pretty decent return in terms of assists and goals – not O’Riley numbers far less Jota numbers, the guy he was signed to replace, but reasonable.

But he is far too slow to play in the Rodgers system and far too inconsistent. Don’t get me wrong, he has an array of technical skills which in the right setup would deliver for us big time, but we don’t play that style of football and in fact nobody in Scotland does because you just aren’t given that much time on the ball. I really like him, but he’s missing too many key ingredients to play every week in this team and I’d take Maeda over him 100% of the time.

He’s a good enough technical player to warrant keeping as a squad player … if we get a bid for him I don’t think there’s any way we won’t accept it and allow him to leave. Whether we actively go looking to offload him or not is a different question, but we won’t put up much of a fight if someone comes and offers to take him off our hands.

Phillips was a disaster, and we cut his loan deal short. Berardo may or may not be a Celtic player when the new season starts; that, at least, looks like a possibility, but certainly not for the sum which Benfica want for him, and which we foolishly agreed to pay.

That was a transfer window run by people without a clue of what the needs of the manager were. This is not as simple as just throwing ingredients into a pot and seeing what you can come up with; every signing a club makes should be one the manager has identified and signed off on and who he has a very specific plan for. Our directors authorised a transfer policy which was both incoherent and self-destructive, to say nothing for it being bloody expensive.

I’m not a net-spend nutjob, but one of the things that’s obvious when you look at the assorted costs is that we spent half of the money we brought in from the sales of Jota and Starfelt. Whatever budget the manager was given before those sales, we didn’t spend one penny of that, not one, and when the manager was vocal about what his needs were someone at the club took the decision to buy that load of dross and not give him a cent towards his own players.

That’s why we’re facing another rebuild, and that’s why we need to get most of those guys off the wage bill. Because rank amateurs were trusted to do a job none of them was qualified to do, and at least one of them has, deservedly, been ushered to the door … but the people who allowed that should have walked with him and they have some brass neck to still be in post.

You could make an argument for retaining Yang and Palma. The rest of them, I don’t see a case for. Nawrocki is the one who most obviously might survive, but when you’re behind Welsh and Scales in the pecking order then the writing is really on the wall for you.

The headline of this piece says that Brendan has big decisions to make; in truth, I’d be very surprised if he hasn’t already made them. A lot of these guys are done and I’d be surprised if there were more than a couple of them left when the new season gets underway.

Some of the guys posting comments … for some reason a lot of you are winding up in the spam folder; I’ll keep an eye on that and make sure to publish as many of those comments as I can, although I’m sure are going to get away from me. Thanks for your patience on this folks, not one of you whose stuff has ended up in there has complained about it, so I appreciate that and can only apologise for what’s a strange oversight. 

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  • Jay says:

    I feel like Nawrocki could do a job from the brief moments he has featured. I think he probably is a better footballer than Welsh & possibly Scales. Fair enough if his fitness isn’t up to scratch that’s just poor professionalism & would wholly justify him being omitted but I do feel the decisions around a lot of last summers signings being left out of the squad were power plays/political decisions. (which I think/hope worked perfectly btw)

    BR rightly making the point to the board the players brought in aren’t good enough.
    Relying on playing mainly the players of last season & even leaving out the likes of Hatate early on I think was BR pushing back on possible pressures from outside the coaching staff that he was showing he is the boss.

  • JimBhoy says:

    Holm, Nawrocki and Palma I would keep, maybe Kobayashe too, rest can go including Oh, McCarthy. The manager can make them 3 better players. I’d add Vata and Johnston to that list and go get a player or two who are first team ready, proven with the mental strength to play for Celtic. Sick of hearing about Vata, in the papers every week.

    What about Liam Shaw? Montgomery, Summers, Kenny? I suspect they will all slip out the door on a free.

    Bosun I’d definitely want to see pre-season.

  • Brattbakk says:

    I agree with almost all of that. It’s an expensive shambles. I’d keep Iwata, Yang, Lagerbiekle and Palma but I expect at least one of them will go and we’ll be stuck with at least one of the guys we need to move on.
    Also, lay off Scales.

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    Sonny Lawwell’s ghost still stalks the corridors at Parkhead then…

    Quelle Surprise there then – Not !

    The classic case of nepotistic failure then if ever there was one for sure…

    PS – Regarding the bottom comment in bold James… Could it be anything to do with that comment for robots bit.
    I seem to have to clear this before I write any comments but being a technical dunce I haven’t got a scooby why that wee rectangle is there and what it means or what robots have to do with a footy forum !

  • Michael Rooney says:

    Still sticking with the postecoglue signings were good myth.last 4/5 windows have been poor..iwata nothing better than average.had loads of chances and shown nothing

    • James Forrest says:

      And maybe you’ve missed the fact that ALL of this windows were AFTER Mark Lawwell was hired.

      It is a fact – a FACT – that Ange’s first two windows, when he was in total control, were nearly perfect.

      Not perfect. Nearly.

  • SFATHENADIROFCHIFTINESS says:

    Pedant’s corner again I’m afraid James.

    They’re (Their) Really ?

    From a wordsmith of your kaliber (sic) l can only assume that it was a long, intense and bloody good weekend.

    H.H.

  • Jim M says:

    Agree totally with what you’re saying James, another unwanted lawwell legacy, a massive clear out starting with McCarthy.

  • John Copeland says:

    Id be very careful about who gets released as after the Euro’s I can see a whole lot of injuries setting in especially to the Celtic players picked for the Scotland squad . What was it …about 10 days rest the 4 guys got after winning the double and that is no time to recover after a long tough season ?Then when the Euro’s are over it’s right into pre season training and conditioning . Not a long time to recuperate the exertions ..is it ? 2 guys per position is a must as next season is going to be a bruiser ,just like last season was !

    • JimBhoy says:

      Scotland won’t have many games in the Euros so guys will be sunning themselves on beaches long before the tournament is over.

  • JimBhoy says:

    When is the last night of the transfer window?? That’s historically when Brendan does most his business.

    Then we learn of the ones we almost got.

    Get your 4 or 5 in ASAP to get us some CL points and icing on the cake as we move out some and get 1 or 2 in maybe loanees before the window smashes shut.

  • William Audley says:

    What do you think of the rangers signings.

    • James Forrest says:

      The Sevco signings? Hilarious. It’s a team cobbled together by committee for a start.

      Certain to end in disaster.

    • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

      When William ! – Twelve years ago… Because that was the last time that club signed anyone…

      When they were actually ALIVE !

  • Jackson says:

    For me James I would keep Nawrocki but not Palma, Holm or Kwon and maybe even let Yang go out on loan
    Brendan took one look at Kwon in a friendly match and hooked him after 20 mins, good luck to him if St Mirren want to buy him,
    As one of your posters alluded to earlier James.. Mannekin will load his team with hammer throwers next season, Nawrocki will be needed and McKenna IF we go for him.

  • Roonsa says:

    Thanks James. I’ve been waiting for this piece. And you have pretty much summed up everything I wanted to say on the subject. I agree about Yang. If we are going to keep any of them, keep him. I aint too fussed about Bernardo but it depends on what happens with Matt O’Riley.

    My concern is that we end up with a situation whereby we can’t get rid of the deadwood in time to replace them with Brendan style players. For each failed signing that we are forced to keep, that’s one more passenger we have going into next season. We simply can’t afford to have passengers with us. We need a strong, passenger free squad.

    I absolutely agree that Brendan had his part to play in last season’s transfer fiasco. He said he would work with what he was given. Get that idea to absolute f**k! No Brendan, that has to be your job to figure out what you need and assess who is coming in before they sign the dotted line. As much as I think they are pish, I feel sorry for Nawrocki and Lagerbielke. They were brought into a situation that they should never have been brought into. They probably could have done a job elsehwhere.

  • JimBhoy says:

    Thought I’d post this, tory scum, parking expenses refereeing a Celtic match. 3 Salaries not enough !! RED RED RED mate.

    https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/other/scottish-tory-leader-explains-expenses/vi-BB1o1bx0?rc=1&ocid=winp1taskbar&cvid=2556726126224928cb0835aeedc2dba1&ei=9

  • Michael McCartney says:

    I’ll turn up on the 1st Saturday of August and support The Celtic whoever the players are as I’ve always done over many years. Like all on here I’ve got my views on who goes and who stays, but I’ll save my opinion about who comes in, until I see them over a few games.
    Surely BR has an idea who he wants and who he doesn’t want, and I just hope he is backed by this board in all his decisions.
    We need a big pool of players with no passengers this season, I like the new format of the the Champions League but 8 games along with League and League Cup games, before the end of January is going to mean lots of knocks, pulls, strains and twists.
    Looking forward to the Euros and then nearly into next season. Bring it on.

  • Olan Barrett says:

    My personal opinion is that Palma and Yang may be kept for squad reasons the rest id punt and Iwata definitely deserves a squad role. Was impressed when Calmac was missing.

  • Michael Collins says:

    Spot on Pat, spot on.

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