The timing wasn’t quite right for this specific deal but I am dumbfounded that he was effectively rejected and is now somewhat languishing in the middle Premier League. Such a player would offer experience, hardness, leadership and defending ability that would, I think, prove a platform for the raft of younger and import players, all of whom have an element of the ‘project’ about them at the moment. There would be less pressure on the youngsters as individuals when a guy like that is holding it together. Therefore, the development of Juarez, Ledley, Hooper, etc. from talents into battle-hardened winners becomes easier and tends towards the profitable. I think he could be a rock upon which to build a whole team. I am absolutely for the signing of Majstorovic and, for that matter, each of the other signings we have made in isolation. But I don’t think they should take the place of a more high-price signing that would bring a guarantee (injury notwithstanding) of certain things to the team. Two of that type of player is surely affordable at this stage and would elevate the whole squad and the team because we wouldn’t be almost completely reliant on the untried (either wholly or in the new Scottish environment), to be our big performers in the way the team currently appears to be. I’ve seen people are predicting Juarez as POTY. However he’s only 22, newly arrived in a totally different culture and he is even playing a different position that earned him international recognition. If there’s a player who would be permitted a form slump it would surely be Efrain Juarez but some Celtic fans were going for their “Lennon out” banners for him starting on the bench at Inverness despite the fact the boy was knackered from the flight from Mexico and Lennon has a squad to manage for the Utrecht game. Internutters.
As I said, Celtic are certainly bidding for players of a high calibre and it’s distinctly possible that with the current depressed transfer market and the English 25-player squad rule (a rule doomed to failure and retraction within three years), Celtic are playing the hand tight and waiting for the pandemonium of the last two days of the transfer window. However, experience has shown that in all but the most exceptional cases it will only be after the 31st of August that in all but the most exceptional circumstances players will decide to take us as a decent back-up option. The Bellamy situation was exceptional as his well-known volatile temperament and unusual perspective seems to have brought the situation to a conclusion early. He prioritises his family over money and that is a very admirable trait in a contemporary footballer. Most players will follow the money and the glory and that puts Celtic in the SPL at a marked disadvantage. But Bellamy, both Keanes, Given, and possibly Darren Fletcher at a future point when Ferguson leaves Old Trafford, all show that high-price talent with a connection to Celtic will take the chance on us if other more predictable options from the English top-eight clubs fall through. We are an attractive back-up because we offer glory, heroism and probably decent money when the deal comes through. Inevitably these deals are loans, though and it would perhaps subvert the stability I cited as important to the team should our high-profile players be a succession of very temporary glamorous names at the club. With previous experience of Bellamy and Keane I felt the February-to-May loan wasn’t long enough to make a telling impact in the way that at least a full season would be. Talent should be allied to stability.
It strikes me that Celtic now have some money that can be spent on turning a lot of promise into something tangible with some investment in the type of experience and excellence that Martin O’Neill demanded when he first arrived. The alternative is likely a gradual diminution of the funds available through some briefly exciting names and promise lost through a lack of direction. The purchase of winners right now would, in my opinion, ensure the winning mentality returns to the club and turn good young players into a terrific team.