A few years back I wrote about a Celtic revival plan. It was inspired by a feeling that the executive of the club were detached from how we supporters felt and were giving the impression that there was no structure to our forward planning other than planning for the immediate season ahead. Shortly after writing I realised that my ideas were hardly unique when watching Moneyball and of more relevance reading Soccernomics. It also seemed had the Celtic board had also taken on board the salient points from Soccernomics (indeed Lennon commented that Dermot sent him a copy of Moneyball when he got the manager’s job).
The principles are well known. With the wealth of the top 6 leagues (two of those being on our doorstep) Celtic cannot compete and perform to Champions League group stages without unearthing and fostering our own talent and becoming a trading club. Whilst we all accept and support this philosophy, there must be scope for deviation. Generating our own stars of the future and buying potential should not exclude an opportunity to purchase an older player if that player has the potential to inspire the players and excite the fans. They should also not forget about that bond between players and fans and the need for younger fans especially to have heroes who are more than 1 season wonders.
Recently St Anthony has been speaking about breaking the news to his son that Gary Hooper was leaving and that this had brought back memories of his own childhood when Kenny Dalgliesh left Celtic, tearing down posters and feeling that his football club was gone. As adults we revel in the glorious history of our club, but as a child the concept of the Celtic family and falling in love with an entity like a club is difficult. Children need heroes, individuals who encapsulate the team to them. In modern football the 8-12 year stint at a club is almost non-existent, but even 4 years is a long time when you’re young. As we grow older and players come and go our bond stays with the club but even for us older fans, some constants are required to keep that emotional bond with the team.
Recently we have seen the departure of Ki, Hooper and Wanyama, with the likely departure of Wilson and no doubt others over the next 18 months – that’s our plan. Having some constants within that team are therefore essential. They are essential for us fans but also essential for the players. I recall Gary Neville stating that he believed it was the constants of himself, Giggs and Scholes which kept the heart within Man Utd in this time of highly paid stars parachuting in for 2-3 seasons and prevented Man Utd from becoming a here today, gone tomorrow club as Chelsea will eventually become. Those core players ensured that everyone coming in knew the responsibility of playing for Manchester United.
The same is true at Celtic. Stars will come and go, some will be sold for big bucks, some will be ok, stay for their contract term and leave and we’ll kiss a few frogs. Within that we must have some whom fans can rely upon. Brown and Samaras have already stayed beyond current football terms, but keeping them longer is key. It also seems that Ledley wants to stay and Commons may well see out the rest of his time here and providing contracts for stars who offer loyalty are essential.
I’m not saying we keep people just for the sake of it, but some constants in times of change would be helpful for all.