Tomorrow Is…Another Season!
It’s been a long wait-132 days to be precise-but tomorrow finally sees Our Bhoys return to action. It’s been a turgid few months in many respects,and having to live without football for this long has just been one more boot in the baws in a long litany of them. Of course,certain old-timers will tell you that ”twas ever thus back in their day. That the season would finish around mid-April,and not start again till about late August. Don’t know how they survived that!
The three games over the extended weekend are all friendlies,of course. That’s absolutely normal for pre-season,but in a departure from recent years,it’s against some quality teams from the French Ligue 1. It will also give us a chance to compare our former hero Moussa against his successor,Odsonne. Even if such a comparison so early in the season is pretty pointless.
However,one way in which they don’t compare is in a willingness to at least discuss a contract extension to stay with us for a while longer. Odsonne is at the same age as Moussa was when he left us,and while I understand his reasons,I still disagree with them. Odsonne,meanwhile,has entered into talks with the club about a contract extension. I’d expect that the deal being offered is for four years till 2024,with an agreement that he can leave when our valuation is met. Additional carrots will be built in to it too,such as a slice of the fee.
That gives him a wee while longer to find a nice Glasgow girl who gets homesick when she jumps on a bus at the end of her street!
We are also in contract discussions with Ryan Christie. Ryan signed a new deal for four years in 2018,and I expect his offer to be for the same duration as the one offered to Eddy. The difference is that I actually think that Ryan sees his long-term future as being with Celtic. He is 25 years old at the moment,and should have another decade or so in him. He has been absolutely outstanding for us ever since he first burst into our team at Murrayfield,of all places,single-handedly destroying a Hearts team when they were half-decent. That was less than two years ago,and came after he had signed his new deal.
I suspect the terms on offer will be a significant improvement!
He missed a few matches for us last season,yet still finished as second-top scorer with 19 goals. That’s impressive stuff for a striker. It’s bliddy unbelievable for a midfielder.
I’m confident that both players are willing to put pen to paper. Whether they feel that the offer is what they are looking for remains to be seen. But this is not the time for Peter Lawwell to play hardball. It’s not the time to plead poverty,pointing to the carnage caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the economic carnage which has resulted. The club is still hugely solvent,with a cash pile which most clubs worldwide would kill for. And as ever,the fans have stepped up to the plate and provided the club with the financial backing that they were asked for. And I expect that the new deal with Adidas will surpass all expectations-and sales figures!-which will bring in even more cash to the club. Not forgetting the associated one with JD Sports,of course. That may be a masterstroke and I’m damned certain that Peter Lawwell won’t have signed a deal that resembles in ANY way the one that the huns signed with Sports Direct.
When PL performs well,I’m always there to give him the credit. It’s only fair,as I throw the brickbats his way when the opposite is true. He has done his bit with deals like these,that’s for sure. And the fans have done their bit by ponying up for the Season Tickets,despite the unusual circumstances of not being able to use them! We will also be ensuring that our commercial success is assured by buying the new kit in droves.
Opening negotiations with the two stars whom I’ve mentioned is another step forward too. But this can often be when Bad Santa turns up on the scene. Seriously,Peter-this is no time for playing hardball. No time for chiselling a few percentage points. Eddy and Ryan have probably been our best two players on a consistent basis for the last two years. Each of them seems to really enjoy being at the club.
Give them what they are looking for. Give them what their achievements have clearly merited. Give the fans too the reward that our loyalty in very difficult times,as well in more normal times of years past,deserve.
And once you’ve done that,keep the chequebook to hand because there’s still a bit of strengthening to be done with our squad!
One area of the team that definitely needs strengthening is at centre back. Particularly the left side. This would give us the opportunity to play three across the back if the game dictates it,but will also definitely improve the balance in a back four. Both our first choice centre backs are generally excellent-though we’ve spoken before about their impetuous tendencies in some situations,etc. Hatem Elhamed has also looked very capable as a centre back,though a run of injuries deprived us of the chance at a properly informed opinion. He will,though,provide cover-if fit!
And it might be needed too if the stories about Ajer are true. He also is 22 years old but he seems to think he’s Beckenbauer. Frankly,I’m amazed at the transfer rumours swirling around him,and the club’s involved. And I’m f…..g astonished at the figures being bandied around as well. I’ll be honest with you all,it was a good bit of business when we bought him. It will be a better bit of business when we sell him-particularly for the amounts being mentioned. And quite honestly,he drives me nuts far too often,so in that case I hope Peter decides that we can do without him in the team.
Let’s face it,I’ve been saying that for long enough-and that was without an offer of £30-40m being mentioned!
So that will be two centre backs required,though I’m quite happy to see promotion from the youths here too.
One thing I’m not happy about is the return to the club of Leigh Griffiths,disguised as Fatbelly Lardbucket from a Not The Nine O’Clock News sketch forty years ago. Fat belly was a darts player,not a professional athlete. His condition lacked any semblance of or connection to the words professional and athlete.
He needs a good kick up the arse for this. The club have shown incredible tolerance and patience with Leigh over the last three years or so,way beyond the duty of care required of a responsible employer. He was showing us earlier this year that he was back,and even scored a hat-trick in our last game.
And now this…
I’ve been one of his biggest supporters ever since he joined us,but even I can’t defend this one. I’m certainly not in the same camp as some bloggers who clearly think the best way for him to lose the excess timber is for him to be flayed alive ,but it is indefensible.
I do wonder about the monitoring process that he was under during the lay-off,but that is no excuse. The rest of the players didn’t come back with a gut like the butter mountain. Yer a bliddy idiot,Leigh.
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