Today sees another excellent contribution from THE GOMBEEN MAN and his unique views on our activities during this transfer window.
Like most of us I’ve been following our Summer Transfer Window rollercoaster with interest and I thought I’d scribble a few observations. I’m grateful for the recruits that we have brought in but there’s no harm in a constructive critique.
Any note of criticism is tempered by the knowledge that Sevco will always receive all the plaudits of the media. Every season they recruit numerous players and yet have never won a senior trophy. We’re well financed, stable with a very promising crop of youngsters coming through. Quietly we’ve also been reducing the squad size, so with that in mind credit where credit is due.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about the RB situation and looked back at the leaked Transfer Document.
I’ve been uncomfortable with the way Mika’s departure has been spun and the tendency to denigrate the player’s reputation by contributors with motivations that aren’t always aligned with the best interests of Celtic.
You know what I mean, ‘best for Mika and Celtic that he has moved on’ and ‘Mika’s performance in Athens.’
Mika had a glittering career at Celtic, winning eight titles and playing his final game for us in the Cup Final where history was made with the Treble Treble. Lustig is a model professional and he deserves to be treated with respect and gratitude. Not arrogance and spin.
At the infamous leaked ‘First Team Recruitment Meeting’ on 2nd April 2019, it was highlighted that we needed a ‘starter right back and back up options.’
The document states that Mika had already been ‘served with a notice to terminate his contract on 31st May…(and) ‘All to consider options’
As we know this highly sensitive personal information about Mika (and others) was deemed so valuable that it allegedly found its way into a bin and somehow onto social media.
Celtic went on to apparently offer Mika a one-year extension after serving the notice to terminate. It’s reported that Mika wanted to stay but asked for a three-year deal and predictably Celtic’s rigid negotiating style failed to find a compromise.
And so we lost Mika Lustig and the deflection and blame began through the PLC media channels.
James Justin at Luton was also mentioned at the meeting of April the 2nd. Justin was to be signed up early, if possible. Lee Congerton was to follow up.
Mr Congerton duly followed up. Congerton left for Leicester City 11th May.
It was announced on the 28th of June that Justin was signing for Leicester. Reading through his profile at Luton he looks a prospect and I’ll follow his progress at Leicester with interest.
Tommy Smith is another target highlighted in April’s briefing document but as far as I can see we have bid £1.5m less than Stoke for the player.
At the time of writing, 103 days have passed since April the 2nd.
On that date, it was acknowledged that Celtic needed to sign a starter at right back and back up options.’
Anthony Ralston’s position was to be ‘monitored and reviewed at the end of the season.’
Gamboa’s contract was expiring with ‘No action required.’
What is the problem here? How can we consistently fail to sign players in key areas when we’ve been aware of a problem approaching for months (years)?
Are we shopping in the wrong market? Is there a problem with how we negotiate? Okay, Scotland isn’t La Liga but surely there has to be someone, somewhere capable of playing right back and willing to play for Celtic?
Just about every European club, we play seems to be capable of putting together a competent group of players including the endangered species of the right back.
Moving on there’s there are other recent curious cases of recruitment confusion and blind alleys.
Was I the only one who had the word ‘medical’ shouting at me when David Turnball announced that after a few days in Norwich he was beating a hasty retreat?
Turnball’s close-season transfer story led him from an agreement between Celtic and Motherwell over a transfer fee. Celtic were unable to arrive at an agreement over Turnball’s personal terms with his representative Liam O’Donnell. The player opted for Norwich, he spent a few days there, then changed his mind and agreed to join us. An unauthorised (leaked) photograph appeared of Turnball kitted out in a Celtic jersey with Lenny. A Subsequent medical revealed problems with the player’s knee and he returned to Lanarkshire.
Raheem Harper apparently visited Celtic Park and the green carpet was rolled out for him towards the end of last season. All looked to be going well until Luke Dowling the Technical Director at West Brom publicly criticised Celtic’s treatment of Ollie Burke after Brendan Rodgers left.
Whatever influenced Harper’s thinking, whether he sought Burke’s opinion we might never know. What we do know is that he declined our offer and signed again for West Brom.
Thinking of our loanees from January the sudden departure of the charismatic and talented Tim Weah and his description of being told to ‘clear his locker’ a couple of days before the Cup Final, is a troubling doubt and just won’t go away.
Timo Weah’s time with us seemed to help his development. On the 1st of July, he moved from PSG to Lille for a reported fee of €10m.
The leaked Recruitment Meeting document contains other gems that I don’t have time to go into here.
A couple of highlights are Joe Arribo who we clearly looked at and would have been a good punt on a Cross Border Development fee and. He chose Sevco. Why? I’m not apportioning blame just asking the question. Steven Gerrard and Glibby can be pretty persuasive and Dick Turpin has a better credit rating than Mr King.
Olivier Ntcham has recently felt the brunt of the ire of a section of the support. His performances have not been up to his capabilities but if a senior member of our staff carelessly bins a confidential document…and that document contains sensitive information about senior professionals at the club…
“Ntcham, consider letting go if an acceptable offer is received.”
…and that document is later released online. We really have to look at ourselves and up to our game.
Maybe Olivier’s reported comments should be taken in the context of our own failings.
As far as I can work out Nick Hammond (ex-West Brom) started in his summer role as Head of Recruitment on the 1st of July. The spin at the announcement of Hammond’s appointment was that he would replace Lee Congerton so as with all things Celtic the deductive abilities of Hercule Poirot are a prerequisite for making sense of what’s happening.
My hope was that it was an admission of the limitations of our CEO when it comes to closing a deal, especially in the wake of the McGinn affair.
With our ongoing concentration on Championship players from England, my suspicion is that someone at the club feels the input of Hammond’s experience in that environment would be helpful.
Our transfer completions so far this window have come from France, Austria and a talented young player from England who played for a club in administration, was available on a reduced Cross Border Development fee and importantly is a member of the Irish squad.
Given the unorthodox method adopted during the selection process to replace Brendan Rodgers. The ongoing confusion and apparent lack of cohesion aren’t a surprise.
This confusion and lack of planning in recruitment and on-field matters have been a consistent theme for a number of years.
Just think what Celtic could achieve if the executives ever got their act together?
Mr Lawwell has made many mistakes during his tenure at our club. I often wonder why Dermot Desmond backs him or change the structure. Football is a game that is full of sharks. In Sevco’s brief existence more dubious characters have made their way up and down the Marble Staircase than prisoners have made their way up and down the landings of Barlinnie.
My view is that despite the failings Desmond trusts Lawwell not to line his own pockets in any way and follow the business model that has ensured stability.
In the businesses, Dermot Desmond operates trust is king and is well rewarded. It’s a philosophy that’s made him a billionaire and I can’t see Desmond changing.
Football excellence isn’t the priority and the left-sided brain mentality of the balance sheet has little time for the cavalier, risk-taking tendencies of the football crowd.
Come to think of it may be that the left-sided brain approach explains our ongoing difficulty in recruiting a ‘right back?’
Great stuff,TGM. There’s a few of us will be thinking “hear hear” on reading this. Remember folks,we always publish your thoughts if you send them to us for Article of the Day. Mail it to Mahe