For me we weakened the defence last January while we were chasing in the league, was the fee from Wigan and saving on McManus’s wages worth it? We went in to the next derby at Ibrox with Thompson and Rogne as our centre half partnership, both with a combined age younger than David Weir. There was other reasons for our failure last season, notably the managerial appointment and ‘honest mistakes’ but we yet again didn’t help ourselves when it came to player recruitment and sales.
Ins and outs last January brought a great profit.
In the summer we had a policy of buying young players who were reasonably cheap and unproven but players we could sell on when we are finished with them or them with us. That’s good business thinking if done in moderation but not when you are trying to re-build a failing team, the average age of our ten summer signings was 24.4, with five 22 year old first teamers, other than Juarez none came from big clubs with big game experience. You can bringing youngsters when you are building on success but we have given a lot of young players a lot of responsibility in difficult circumstances, we also failed yet again to address the centre half issue and failed at three deadlines.
If you have a trainee manager you don’t give him a team of inexperienced youngsters, if a kid is learning to ride a bike you give them stabilisers, we have put our manager on a cheaply repared bike, shoved him down a very rocky road without stabilisers, shut our eyes and hoped for the best.
The summer timeline.
12 July Boruc sold to Fiorentina
28 July Braga away (Zaluska, Loovens, Mulgrew, Hooiveld all play in the 3-0 defeat, all players we had admitted we were looking for improvements for. Andres Hinkle although fit wasn’t registered for in the squad, new full back Cha took his place. Aiden McGeady out ‘injured.’)
4 August Braga home. (Zaluska, Loovens, Mulgrew, Hooiveld, and Cha keep their place as we exit the Champions League at the first hurdle.)
13 August Aiden McGeady signs for Spartak
19 August Utrecht home (Zaluska and Loovens keep their place while Joe Ledley replaces Mulgrew at left back. New signing Dan Mastorovic signed three days earlier goes straight into the team. Announced Hinkle out for 9 months, efforts to sell him on hold. 2-0 win.)
22 August Loovens dropped amid rumours he was in talks with Cardiff.
24 August Fraser Forster (22) signs on loan
26 August Utrecht away (Zaluska, Hooiveld play, Ledley continues at left back in the shocking 4-0 defeat.)
29 August Motherwell away (Hooiveld dropped and previously dropped Loovens returns, Forster and Izaguirre make debut.)
We yet again sold players without replacements, played players we had admitted were not good enough and omitted players as we were trying to sell them. We all know how important European qualification is to the club even if it’s just Europa League yet we didn’t give the manager the very best chance, we handicapped him. Champions League qualification was a long shot but we could have at least gave it a try, we gambled (again) that our failing team would be good enough to beat a Dutch mid table team, we failed massively.
We passed another final transfer deadline without sorting out the defence, before the August deadline we had further proof Loovens wasn’t good enough and even tried to sell him to Cardiff yet he was a first pick in September. Were we waiting until we got him out the door to bring in someone else and since we didn’t get him out the door not bother with getting a replacement? Was having to continue paying his wages that huge a financial commitment we thought it wasn’t worth accepting it and also getting the replacement we must have had in mind had he went to Cardiff?
In all of this football comes a poor second to relatively small financial savings or profit.
I closely followed the many open meetings during the summer and to the question “Do we need to sell?” the answer was always “We don’t but if players go all money will be re-invested in the team.” Great as we have approx. £5m (Unknown fees make it hard to confirm ) left from the summer sales, I’m not a net spend nutter but that’s handy money to have when you have problem areas in the team you need to address.
Reliable sources are now saying that the money will be used to make up for season ticket short fall and missing out on European football. As late as 11th August at the Preston CSC open meeting the “All money from player sales will be re-invested in the team” line was still trotted out, this was after we exited the Champions League and was three days before the start of the SPL season. How many more season tickets did we expect to sell that things changed and Aiden McGeady money had to be re-deployed?
Theres also been a mention that the “All money from player sales will be re-invested in the team” money will be absorbed into paying current players wages, paying these players wages couldn’t have been a surprise and surely we knew about it when we were inferring that money from player sales would be used to improve the team.
It stinks of sharp suited spin much like the “We need to go through due process before appointing the next manager” and “We will look at getting a mentor in to help Neil.” lines trotted out in the summer. I don’t believe we were serious about either, both seem like spin to try and ease the concerns of those who doubted the managerial appointment. The only person who can be impressed by the sharp suited spin these days will be John Reid, I’m sure most of the support can now see through Lawwell and his spin. It’s interesting when you look at some of the football decisions we have taken since Peter Lawwell negotiated his new bonus heavy contract in November/December 08, a bonus that seems to be near the maximum despite football results.
We can still win this league if the manager is given proven players next month, we should have the money to help us get them, talk of having to be creative to get players in, a 25 year old bosman centre half from the Championship suggest we won’t be spending much if anything. That doesn’t fit in with the “All money from player sales will be re-invested.” And “If we don’t spend all of it in the summer we have it for January.”
I back the manager, he has not been helped by those above him, they must give him the proven players he needs next month. At least one proven centre half (two would be better) and an old heid central midfielder for a start.
Celtic PLC, please help your manager next month, don’t make things worse.