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The Dam Holds For Now, But Celtic Has Just One Week Left To Strengthen This Team.

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Earlier in the week, the former Democrat strategist and ABC pundit George Stephanopoulos interviewed Joe Biden, in the aftermath of his disastrous debate performance. Stephanopoulos was hard but fair. He asked tough questions.

But he was essentially neutral. He made the show about Biden, which is rarer than you might think. A lot of interviewers want to be the story and trawl for the easy headline. He didn’t do any of that.

In the aftermath of the interview, his public comments on Biden were in the same neutral language.

As a news anchor he tried to stay above the fray.

Yet in spite of his best efforts, Stephanopoulos got himself into trouble.

In a development too crazy for fiction, he was walking down Fifth Avenue and a total stranger engaged him in conversation about it, and during that discussion the guy asked Stephanopoulos straight up what his view on the President was, as someone who had gotten as up close as anyone outside the inner circle could get.

“I don’t think he can serve four more years,” he told the guy. A moment where his professional mask slipped and honesty came to the fore. Words he had surely said in his own mind before, during and after the interview, but which he had never directly expressed.

And someone was recording it on their mobile. And that person sold the footage to TMZ, and they published it online.

That’s why this is now a major news story of the sort neither Stephanopoulos or Biden wanted. This is the thing strategists fear the most, the unspinnable scandal; someone in a position of authority, caught telling the truth.

So, let’s talk for a minute about the truth.

I had a discussion with someone the other day who asked if I like offending people on this blog. I was honestly surprised by the question. Why would I like that? My words genuinely do seem to offend people at certain times.

On even more occasions I annoy and anger people.

And that I’m willing to cop to. That, I’m willing to admit, is somewhat … deliberate?

Maybe that’s the wrong word.

I don’t set out to piss people off. But when I sit down to write I know, always, that I will.

The reason I know that is that I never sit down to mislead people, and I never, ever, ever sit on the fence. I call it as I see it, and when I see something in front of me that I think is wrong, that I know cannot stand, I will say it.

I love the club. I want what is best for the club. All of us do, and when we are concerned about the things we see I don’t think holding back makes things better. I am, in fact, convinced that it makes things worse.

It is what allows issues to grow, until resolving them becomes costly and much more difficult. The argument that criticising the club in public when they are getting something wrong only helps our rivals is, and has always been, arrant nonsense.

Right now, in the States, the Biden camp is hammering the media and those in the party who are expressing their concerns about him and putting their views in the public domain as though they were the problem. They are not the problem.

The problem is that to tens of millions of Americans Biden simply does not look up to the job, and it no longer matters whether that’s fair or unfair or true or false. They believe it. They think they saw the proof of it with their own eyes and even if they don’t flip and vote for Trump, Biden needs those votes to win and if he has lost them his path to victory is non-existent and he’ll lose.

This is the political reality, and a party that was willing to face that reality would be able to act on it.

How many times have I written here that our board has a serious trust problem amongst our fans?

As with Biden it does not matter whether they deserve that or not or whether the worst suspicions that people are harbouring are valid or not; the perception exists that these are people who have failed to progress us on the pitch, and that the return of Peter Lawwell as chairman signifies another period of managed decline, whoever is occupying the dugout.

Unfair? Who cares? Enough people believe it that it’s a problem, a serious problem, and as with Biden I think that we’re beyond a point where that perception is likely to change. Biden can’t change the minds of the doubters. Lawwell is way past that.

Both men have allowed their egos to consume their sense of what is in the best interests of the institutions they claim to represent, and which they profess to love.

The truth is, they love their own perception of their role in those institutions.

They’re in a place now where all they represent are the self-indulgent views they hold about themselves.

I’ve listened to Lawwell and his shrinking band of followers over the years talk in terms of Celtic’s success as something that belongs to them alone.

I listened to Biden’s Stephanopoulos interview with incredulity and even some disgust; he is the only one in all of America who can win, but if he’s wrong and if Trump does get elected in November, he’ll be fine with that as long as he did his best? Yeah? Really? So, the outcomes for the millions of people whose lives that scenario would devastate are of no consequence at all?

Think of the arrogance it takes to hold one or the other of those viewpoints.

Across Celtic cyberspace is a growing feeling that something is not quite right at the club at the moment. Where are the signings which we all know are of critical importance? Is it really possible that we’re going to have another failed transfer window? That’s surely unthinkable, right? So why are so many, many, many people thinking it?

Is it actually possible that we might start the campaign with a weaker team than the one which finished the last one? Right now, that seems like a very, very real, possibility and I am willing to say it out loud; that’s our own unacceptable outcome.

Is this just panic over nothing?

Some are going to say that’s exactly what it is. If it is then it’s catching.

As is happening with the Democrats right now, a lot of people would prefer to ignore the awful truth that there is a perception that is not going to shift, a belief that there are people at the club who are more than capable of making a mess of this, because they have history in that regard.

A lot more people are worried about this than are willing to come out and say it right now.

They are not wrong to be parking those concerns or for being willing to give the club the time and the space to get business done.

But if you follow those of them who are on social media, as I do, you can see clearly that even they are frustrated and some are growing angry and a few are already starting to feel the same creeping sense of dread we had last summer.

How long ago was it now that John Kennedy assured us that we’d see something on the signing front “in the next week or two”? Well, that time is already up. We’re heading into another weekend with more of the growing sense that we’re stuck in the mud.

The longer we wait for signs of life the easier it becomes to fear the worst.

The question as to what is going on at Celtic right now is valid, and to one extent or another every single one of us is well aware that it’s valid, because we’re all asking it, and particularly when it comes to the goalkeeper.

There has been just one occasion that I can remember when we’ve been given so much advance notice about the departure of a key player; Ange was told that we were losing two; Rogic and Bitton were going to leave at the end of his first season.

What did he do? He signed Hatate and O’Riley in January so that their replacements would be bedded into the team for a full six months beforehand.

Here, when we’ve had literally months to sort something out, we’re still fumbling about exploring the various options.

Even without panicking, there are questions to answer here about the process.

The grace period is almost over. The feeling I have is that we’re in a period of uneasy truce. The way the US media puts it, as they basically wait for Biden to stumble again in a public forum, is that “the dam will break” when he does.

The dam will break. Man, that’s such a perfect encapsulation. The trickle of people speaking out publicly will become a flood, and it will sweep everything away.

That’s what will happen here too, with our supporters.

It may not be in a day, it may not be in a week, but the manager’s own frustration over having to play with this lousy hand will be expressed in public and then the criticism levelled at Celtic and those running it will not be limited to a few lonely voices online.

I personally have little inclination towards more patience.

As I keep on saying, as far as I’m concerned, these people exhausted their benefit of the doubt a long time ago, and Lawwell especially. When it comes to their capacity for screwing up or lowballing the ambition, I will always fear the worst.

Our signing policy was dysfunctional last summer and it is dysfunctional now. I devoted two articles yesterday to the subject of our academy, and one of the things that I talked about was a need for joined up thinking at this club, which it presently appears incapable of.

Let me ask a direct and simple question.

Who runs the football department at Celtic Park?

The manager?

The manager should run it, but what does that mean? It’s clear that he has taken some control out of the hands of those above him, and put it in his own. Mark Lawwell has been seen off the premises. The boss now picks the transfer targets.

All to the good. But it’s not a one man show, it can’t be, because it’s not Rodgers who makes the bids for those players and who tries to negotiate contracts.

He says he meets with the key people all the time.

What we should be asking at the moment is who are these key people and what exactly are they doing with the list Rodgers has undoubtedly already given them?

Rodgers has to make recommendations and pass them up the chain of command.

It is inconceivable that a man of his experience, in his business, does not know who he wants already. Who is on the next rung of the ladder, and why is that person incapable of working faster and better?

This club has talked about the idea of appointing a director of football for years. What is the obstacle to that? What is in the way? It would necessitate people like Lawwell, like Nicholson, like others, giving up key areas of control. But it is high time they did exactly that.

In a week we head to America. Some people are saying we want the Bernardo transfer done before we go. You know what I say to that? Big deal.

I’ll be wholly unimpressed. In fact, I’ll be extremely pissed off.

I would be amazed if Brendan Rodgers himself was not.

To head to the States, and our most crucial pre-season games, to take on the best challenges we’ll get prior to the real thing when we’re in those Champions League groups, without the players we should be bedding in, with an even weaker first team squad than we finished last season with … what does our club’s leadership expect for that? Applause?

They can do one, it’s an outrageous situation.

Fans have ponied up for their season tickets. CelticTV took a great whack of money off me just last night, so I can watch the very games the club hasn’t made the least effort to prepare us for. I’m not even sure I can be bothered watching them right now.

I mean, to do what? To see Scott Bain or Seigrist fumble with the ball and a makeshift defence try to keep out the best forwards in the world? If I want to torture myself there are other ways of doing it.

They’ve got precisely eight days to get it together, and to look as if they have a clue what they are doing and right now they don’t.

Nothing about the way we go about this stuff is impressive.

And since we’re in truth telling mode, let me share you with a dark thought that I can’t seem to shake off, and if I sound crazy well maybe I am, and maybe I’m not.

What bothers me, what nags at me, is the suspicion that perhaps this is our collective punishment – yours, mine, the managers, and whoever else might be viewed as responsible – for our role in removing the chairman’s son.

Maybe the decision not to bring in a new head of recruitment is someone’s spiteful, petty way of saying “You got rid of the last guy. This is what it looks like without him.” Maybe this is an act of ego-driven lashing out, against Rodgers and the fans, by somebody quite willing to leave a hole in the structure and to let the chips fall where they may.

I would once have dismissed that as ludicrous.

But I’ve seen a giant clash of egos have a terrible impact on this club once before and I know certain people are well capable of putting us on that collision course again.

As with the Biden Democrats who know the truth but fear to say it out loud, I know that this is not a thought that I’m alone in having … a lot of people said it right at the start when Rodgers’ name was first in the frame; how can that possibly work?

Well, how can it possibly work now with that very significant development added to the mix?

Since Lawwell Jnr was removed how many of us have asked themselves, “What impact has that had on relationships inside Parkhead?”

I know I have.

If we’re still in this same situation, still stuck in the mud, still looking like we can’t find our own backsides with an Uber driver, a Satnav and Google Maps eight days from now, that question and the others it raises are going to be foremost in more minds than just mine.

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  • Darren Kerr says:

    Get it I your heads, There will be a few signings late in the day, probably post O.Reilly sale, who will go for 20 mil at max. They will sign an old experienced reserve keeper and a few loan signings and the marquee signing will be one of either Idah or Bernardo. The Board believe in projects. They will persist with Yang and the like. This Board needs tearing down with a wrecking ball.

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