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Little Englanders and their EPL Money Tree

Ambition – /amˈbɪʃ(ə)n/noun. A strong desire to do or achieve something. A desire and determination to achieve success.

Depending on which country your in and what kind of money Sky shovels down you’re clubs throat; ambition is an ambiguous term. Well it’s not, but if you’re anywhere south of Hadrians Wall, it most likely has been distorted in the Alice in Wonderland economic hellscape the Premier League has become.

Is being given a blank cheque by a middling, no-mark Premier League club more or less ambitious than training and moulding average players into a better players? Should we marvel at the ambitions of a man who would trade an environment of must win 60+ times a season, for one where top 10 is acceptable; in spite of the resources? Is ambition now defined as throwing money at the problem until the skills you developed in solving problems erode beneath the weight of your big fat wallet?

Any right minded, impartial individual, and by that I mean literally ANYONE who hasn’t been woo’d by the “Best League in the World” propaganda and who hasn’t been corrupted by the Murdoch money machine, will agree with the following; Celtic are a bigger club than Leicester. Simple as that. The same applies to this; Leicester are richer than Celtic. Simple as that. But money doesn’t equate standing, prestige or reputation. Celtic’s reputation precedes them worldwide. Leicester’s does not.

Now moving on, it’s telling that the little Englander who composed the above tweet equates money spent with ambitious being realised, when in reality, the truth is much darker than anyone in the bubble cares to admit.

We’re not the only country who has their seats picked out for when the bubble bursts. Your Top 6 will be fine. They’re all self-sufficient clubs without the wads of cash from the TV deal; be it Oil, more Oil, American hedge funds, and aw, more Oil – they’ve got their finances covered.

Everybody underneath will be looking over their shoulders when the wings of this financial monstrosity finally get to near the sun.

The real crux of this tweet was the comments that followed it. To paraphrase, “Leicester are a bigger club than Celtic”. But of course, in English football fan fashion it was said with as much grace and class you’d expect from a tap dancing polar bear. Lets put that to the test.

Celtic’s total major honours haul currently stands it 108 including 50 league titles, 39 Scottish Cups, 18 League Cups and 1 European Cup.

Leicester’s total major honours haul stands at 5. No, I didn’t miss a zero off that. And no, I don’t count any lower league promotions. They won the league once, and props where it’s due, they were immense that season. They have never lifted the FA Cup, and managed 3 league cup wins.

Night and Day.

So what do you say to those who will no doubt roll out the usual red carpet for the “but it’s a pub league” rambles? I point to players who right now, excel in your league pyramid but crumbled in ours.

Talent will get you to the dance, but mental fortitude will keep you cutting shapes all night. And what I mean by that is, talent earns a player the right to wear the hoops, but it’s their own mental strength that enables their success or failure. Some excellent players have come and failed. Some bang average ones have come and dominated. Celtic has something no Premier League team outside of Liverpool and Man Utd can offer and that’s feverish pressure to win. Your success at a club like Celtic is predicated on your ability to thrive under extreme pressure.

Every. Single. Game.

So, in terms of sporting accolades, Celtic are so far ahead we could take the next century off and still be untouchable. Let’s look at money.

In the 2017/18 period, both clubs were sound financially. In fact, you’d be surprised to hear that it was actually Celtic who posted pre-tax profits of £17.3m compared to £1.6m for the sooper dooper rich Leicester. But that’s not the interesting part.

Celtic posted revenues of £101.6m. Leicester posted £158.9m.

Why is this interesting? Well, that’s because in the same year Leicester made £118m from the SKY TV deal. So without the deal, what are they? A club that turns over £40.9m?

So, if Leicester are a bigger club, if they are a titan in the face of Scotland’s premier team, then why does this wee Scottish team wipe the floor with them when absent their big bad TV deal.

Let’s be honest. The truth is simple. The whole English Premier League is a house of cards. Every club under sixth is run by collection of chairmen frantically scrambling to avoid the dreaded drop. Because relegation is almost always fatal. They are prisoners to their own fortune.

Let’s not be fooled by any means here. These numbers are specific to Leicester, and they are grim. Leicester are one of the bigger mid-table teams in the Premier League, so its a fair assumption to guess that the logic is transferable.

Ambition? What Ambition?

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Transfer Centre: The Frenchman, The Ozzy and the Prodigal Son.

Transfer Windows, don’t you just loathe them!

This mornings hot topic is about the three Treble Treble winners above. Will they stay or will they go. In true Trasfer Window fashion, you’ll be sure to note the plethora of ITK bloggers, of the Celtic persuasion and otherwise, who have nailed on sources that have sold these three bhoys already. Seriously, we need to vet the Lennoxtown cleaners more thoroughly!

Think about it like this. Your neighbour has got the best garden in the scheme. It’s packed with trinkets, gnomes, flowers, pristine grass, maybe even disco lights. What’d you do when you get fed up looking at that shit? You start a rumour. Of what, it doesn’t really matter, just so long as people think that; A) All is not well in the garden, B) The things in the garden would look better in another garden and C) Make sure A & B are repeated by enough people with a platform to make a rumble. Garden analogy aside, the media are attempting to carve up our team, one player at a time.

Putting those of mighty information aside for a second, let’s talk about the summer as a whole from our own perspective. Let’s take the power away from the spoon fed media hacks, shall we?

Since the champagne of the Treble Treble was put back on ice for another year, we’ve seen Tierney, Ntcham, Rogic and McGregor all being feverishly pushed for transfers away. Now, this isn’t the media just reporting interest and facts. There have been opinion pieces from the ghost writers of Nicholas, Boyd & Commons all claiming that one or another of these four should leave “to further their career”.

This has gathered the desired effect on some of out fan base. Some have rounded on the players. Dished out ultimatums with such venom that, lets be honest here, if you said it to their face they’d tell you to f*ck right off. I could have a look at each of them by numbers over the last 2 seasons, but all it’ll tell us is, the three of them are players. We don’t need numbers for that.

I’ve covered Kieran extensively in another blog; coupled with some ramblings about his treatment.
Head on over to: https://thecelticway.blog/2019/06/30/the-difference-one-day-can-make/ for a look.

Lets start with Rogic. If we do look at the numbers, it would explain why so many of our fans have become lukewarm on the Wizard of Oz. There is no denying that on his day, Tom is in the top 3 operators in the country. But his injury record reads about as well as the Ibrox accounts. Tom signed 7 years ago, but he’s only made 98 league appearances; 156 in all competitions. Roughly 22 games a season. Compared to McGregor, who broke into the team a full 2 years later; 227 in all competitions. 45 games a season give or take. Tom is trapped in a vicious cycle that I’m dubious he’ll will ever escape from.

He plays 10 games and performs > picks up an injury keeping him out for 2/3 weeks > Makes it back, but he’s off the pace his next 4/5 games > Finally hits full speed after game 10 then gets a 4/5 game run of being imperious > Picks up another injury that’s at least a month, likely more > Season doesn’t have enough games for him to catch up again. Rinse and Repeat. There is the comments Ronny Delia made to consider as well, when he took the reigns; commenting that the fitness was, essentially, dug meat. That was Lennon’s fitness plans. Unless he’s grown from then, these same plans may just kill Rogic.

He’s a fantastic player, but he just can’t stay healthy. A cast iron £9m offer is what the media is reporting. Is it true? Who knows, most likely not, because, well read the first paragraph again for that answer. But they are trying their utmost to break up this squad which just keeps steamrolling the league season after season. For arguments sake, assuming it is true, a £9m opening offer suggests we could land about £12m and as loathed as I am to say it, that’s a good deal in my opinion. I suspect I may be in the minority here, and I do see the value in keeping him as well, but with the emergence of Christie; a more energetic box to box 10, I think cashing in on Tom might be the right move. Put it this way, if Turnbull had panned out, I think this would be a more open and shut conversation for the board.

Oli, Oli, Oli. I have family members who think Ntcham is the best player in the country. They’re wildly wrong, but their family and you can’t put them in the bin.

Does he have talent? Yes, undoubtedly.
Does he turn in some great performances? Yes, undoubtedly.
Can you trust him away from home anywhere in the league? Absolutely fucking not.

Let’s start with the good first. At Celtic Park, when all the pressure is flowing one way, Ntcham can look every inch a superstar. He can ping passes, make late runs, boss proceedings and grab goals and assists. I’m thinking first Glasgow Derby and Anderlecht away. Generally, be what we need him to be. You crank the pressure up just a notch against the likes of Aberdeen, Hibs, Hearts, who press higher and give less time on the ball, then little cracks appear. Misplaced passes, poor decisions, slow laborious play letting the low defensive block plug gaps.

Away from home, and I take zero pleasure in this sort of critic, Ntcham is just too slow. A quality player turns into someone who gets caught in possession far to often, misplaces passes far to often, looks like he lacks the legs to get around the park and turns in some really, really poor performances. Of course there’s mitigating factors in his pairing with Brown, quality of the pitches, or everyones old favourite – he’s in a huff since Moussa left.

I don’t know if it’s an attitude thing or a temperament thing or just general bottle. My personal preference would be to keep him. There is a player in there, if his mind is right and if the mood comes over him. We’ve seen a few 9/10 performances from Oli. But we’ve also seen a few 3/10.

I reckon this’ll come down to; does he want to go? If he does, take the £10m and wish him well. If not, lets hope Lennon can reach him where Rodger’s couldn’t.

The issues we face is this. Who do we replace these guys with? Have the scouting team been doing their jobs well enough to replace a player that cost £4.5m just a few seasons ago?

We’ve got around 2 months to figure out who and what a Nick Hammond is, and what exactly he brings to the table.

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The Difference One Day Can Make

It’s some sort of unwritten rule that we as a fan base need somebody to vent our fury at. Some target for a slight no matter the severity, we need to use twitter to extract our pound of flesh. True enough, sometimes its warranted, when it comes to the usual suspects in Boyd, Commons, Provan and Co. But on day’s like today, it makes you despair to be forced to share a team with these absolute moon howlers.

Right, who’s our next target? With the purchase of a £7 million defender in the bag, Peter Lawwell has took his picture down off the dart board – for now. Let’s face it, we could sign another 4 players, splash another £10 million and our fans would still have a fuckin’ moan that nobody turned up on deadline day. So Pedro is safe.

Charlie Nicholas come on up. Trumpeting his shite as usual, Charlie claims £20m + add ons is a good deal for KT. So he deserves that flack. And just so nobody is ever confused again; when this charlatan says “us” he means Arsenal. Lets have a gander at a few names on the list of – “You paid what for him!?”

– Targett – £14m + Add ons Southampton > Aston Villa
– Stones – £50m + Add ons Everton > Man City
– Adam Webster – £30m + Add ons (Reported) Bristol City > Aston Villa
– Daniel James – £15m + Add ons Swansea > Man U
– Jack Clarke – £8.5M + Add ons Leeds > Spurs

So what’s this list got in common? They all play in England. They’re all English with the exception of James. But could you pick any of them out of a line up? Maybe Stones? Have you heard of any of them in a football context? Stones again? The rest is what the going rate is for “potential” is. So, with Kieran not falling into the bracket of just potential, this figure is well below acceptable. Kieran is a Premier League talent posting Premier League performances. The numbers above are for Championship players.

It seems to be a split between the old guard accepting the boy will make us a bomb and the young guard slating him, even though fuck all has happened yet. I think we’re forgetting one crucial bit of information here. Who put the price on Kieran? Did the club come out and say “£25m and he’s yours!” Nope, not that I’ve seen. So where did it come from? Who was first to plaster £25m on the front pages and claim that’s the number? Well on the 6th of June you have the Scotsman claiming £26.6m.

And the snowball just keeps on rolling.

The media set the price. Not Celtic. Now it might turn out £25m will do it, I don’t know. But what I do know, is not a soul has come out and said it will.

But onto the real crux of the issue. Twitter makes you absolutely despair sometimes. We have a number of fans slaughtering the boy for no other reason than Arsenal seemed to have made a £20m bid and the boy returned to Glasgow. He returned to finish his rehab from surgery because all he’s been doing in Austria is cycling and running. The squad moved onto Switzerland earlier and he came home.

Now, Celtic might accept that bid, they might not. I’m inclined to believe they won’t for a number of reasons. The main one being we don’t have to sell. The other being he’s on a 5 year deal. Oh and the cherry for KT being that if he performs again this season, Arsenal won’t be the only team looking at him next summer.

Some of the faceless elite on Twitter need to have a look at themselves. Those with the avatars in place of any real personality that fire the worst of the worst at the club when the toys are out of the pram. Some even comparing him to the snake that left in March.
Let’s compare and contrast;
– One of them tried to rip the heart out of the coaching staff and leave us with nothing when he left so abruptly, he left a Brendan shaped hole in the wall. He tried to poach our players when he was almost off to China the year earlier. He lied about random stories with Danny McGrain. Lied about being a fan. Is a sociapathic sycophant who does and says anything to gather the favour of those who he needs to succeed.
– The other is a life long fan who’d be in the stands with us if he didn’t have the talent. One who will leave us pocketing £30m+ for the memories along the way. If he leaves, he leaves us in a healthier position than if he stays, because a LB can be replaced. This is a boy that’s ran the legs off for us over the last 4 years. He deserves far better from those who are all to keen to sing and dance along when he grabs a megaphone. And most importantly of all, the club have been offered money. Nobodies offered him squat yet. He’s not downed tools and demanded a move like Moussa did last Deadline Day.

“If he leaves before 10 he can fuck off, he’s no a real fan!” I wish these people would leave before 10. Seriously, just grab your coat and we’ll see you around May 2021 because 10 in a row has absolutely consumed you so much so that the bigger picture is a dot. I’m not downplaying the 10 in any stretch, but IF, and that’s a massive IF he does leave, he’s not irreplaceable. Not by any stretch. Especially not with what we have in the bank plus the obscene amount we’ll bank for him.

In the last 6 hours or so, the ugly face of our support broke the surface. And its a disgrace that it’s aimed at Kieran of all people. But here’s the biggest take away from this all farce;

I don’t want him to leave. You don’t want him to leave. So why the fuck are we throwing abuse his way when he hasn’t left? Unplug your laptop, switch your phone off and go for a lay down lads.

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Post Match: Celtic 2-1 Wiener SC

The wheels are turning on preseason already for the bhoys while pretty much every other country in the world still has their players on a beach somewhere. I’m not bitter. Not one bit. But alas, it is what it is. In living memory, I don’t remember our team returning back for preseason in such good shape. It might be because these lads are professionals who treat their bodies like a temple, or that they know just how important it is to hit the ground like Sonic on speed for these (Not)Champions League qualifiers. Or maybe, it’s because the season finished 18 days ago for the international bhoys. After some 60+ games for our most important players, they get 432 hours away from the game, not counting when they actually went back into training.

Anyway, enough moaning.

Lennon said it would be two teams to play the separate games, and unlike Pinkafeld on Wednesday, this wee team could zip the ball about. Surprisingly enough for a 3rd tier team from Austria, they had some serious composure on the ball. Aye, they barely threatened but still, you’ve got to appreciate a team who operate in a league with the Austria and Rapid Vienna reserves knockin’ it about like that.

Our high press was a wee bit lacking sometimes, but it’s preseason and it’s still miles ahead of where expected at this point. But even then, we won the ball back in good areas and but for some wasteful finishing we could’ve pulled the shutters down on this one early doors. Plenty of chances came and went, but in reality it was the new bhoys we were all most interested in seeing.

We’ll start from the back. I loved wee Emilio, but early indications are Gutman is an upgrade. Be that in his legs or his talent I’m not sure yet. But he has the engine to get up and down, and with some work on the final product, we could have an able deputy for KT, who by the way, can’t go through another 60+ game season. The boy needs a seat sometimes and the American might be the guy to help him.

Sometimes you’ve just got to shake your head in disbelief at some of the opinions that fly from our fans. One particular drivel was writing off Shved. After 45 mins. *Insert profanity here* Let’s pose a riddle. What do you get when you have a winger who lacks the natural confidence and belief that he can commit his man, beat him and then deliver. Anyone…? Scott Sinclair, you get Scott Sinclair.

Now, I’m not bashing Sinky. He has contributed in a big way to the last 9 trophies with goals. But in all round general play, he’s a frustration. The talent is obviously there, and in most cases the frustration comes from trying to get the talent out of the player that riles you. But in Sinclair’s case, he doesn’t put himself in a position to even ask the question; can you beat your man? I might be being a bit hard on the guy, but it’s a game of opinions I suppose.

Compare and contract with Shved. A willingness to run at his man, inside, outside and link the play going forward is encouraging. So what it doesn’t come off every time. The point is he’s at least giving us another dynamic than a backwards pass to the full back. One of our major faults for the longest time has been speed of play and it stems from the widemen playing it safe (backwards) almost every time. The pattern is as mundane as it was predictable > Wideman > Fullback > Centre Back > Other Centre Back > Full Back. Rinse and repeat until there’s 11 men parked 20 yards from their goal line. Get the ball wide, force your full back to engage you and either pass or take him on. It sounds simple, but it really stems from the rest of the team and the shape they take up. But we’ll get onto that in future ramblings!

So who knows, this fresh blood might push 2016/17 Sinclair back to the forefront! And then we really have a player on our hands.

Bayo with the tidy finish.

Boom Boom Boom, Everybody Say BAYO… No? Okay, moving on. The big fella had played all of 10 minutes last season, and I think I saw him trap a ball further than some can kick it. But it was 10 minutes, so to avoid being one of they bandwagon jumpers, I held my weesht until I saw more. And what I saw I like. I’m gonna say something, but hang with me, there’s a logic to the madness… He reminds me of the very early Dembele we saw. That run of games up till the infamous “Dembelition” game, where Joey Barton’s career sadly passed away; Moussa was rough and raw. You get that same sense with Bayo. Now I’m not saying the quality will match up, because I don’t know, it’s been 1 half of a preseason game. But the big man can take a ball in, turn or link the play. He’s obviously a threat in the air, but that needs work as evidenced by the chance he missed tonight. Moussa motored away sharpish and improved 10x by the seasons end. If Bayo can progress even half way to where Dembele ended up in 16/17 then we have ourselves very healthy competition up top with French Eddy and Griff.

Now, to the man, or kid of the moment. Mikey Johnston. We have a player. I’m the first to admit I’ve been back and forward on the wee man. Sometimes he looked the part, others not so much. But since teh tail end of last season when he broke into the team till now, you can’t argue that he has improved. We just need to work that final pass into his game, and erase those extra 3/4 touches he takes to blow up a chance.

In the same vein of Shved, he showed the bravery every winger needs to attack his man. He looks sharp and he has genuine quality that we haven’t seen in a Celtic winger since McGeady. No, I’m not overlooking Forrest here. Mikey is a bag of tricks, Jamsey is raw pace and direct running. If you combine the two, you’ve got a frightful prospect. But with Rogic more acquainted with the treatment table these days, we may be seeing the shift of Forrest from winger to No. 10. He is capable, but time will tell whether he can really pick up the intricacy’s of being the pivot the team revolves around. Another pleasant surprise in the wide department was Morgan. He done well when he came into the game, direct and beating men. But if I had to hazard a guess, he’ll be heading out on loan before the end of the window.

All things considered, we’re operating at a higher level than we normally do at this time. And with kids like Dembele, Oko-Flex, Henderson and new kid Connell all waiting in the wings, we seem to be half way there. We just need a right back because as hard as Ralston tries, he’s had circa 3 seasons to do something. On to St Gallen on Tuesday night where hopefully we get a look at all 6″5 of Christopher Jullien.

And while we’re here; Welcome to the Party Luca Connell.

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The Celtic Way Blog. Under Construction

If you’re here it means my Twitter charm offensive is in full swing and I’m a genius of epic proportions! Or, most likely, you like a gander at someone else’s opinion to shout it down. Either way, we’ll get on famously. When I get to grips, you’ll find mostly Celtic related nonsense, from games, transfers and tactics. I love me some tactics.

Hopefully, see you back here for my weekly rant about all things Celtic. Never know, the way things are going, could be more than weekly at this rate!

The German Way of Thinking

Everyone’s heard the old “German Efficiency” adage and it’s a truth that stands the test of time. They identify the goal, plan the path, achieve the objective. And almost always in jig time.

But in rare cases, like their national team, they take a step back, analyse the problem and realise that there is no jig time fix. After a series of poor major tournaments, heading for the exit door early bells in Euro 2004 and the World Cup in 2006, Germany invested in youth that eventually seen them lift to World Cup in 2014, absolutely leathering Brazil on route.

It’s this sort of big picture thinking that has their club teams light years ahead of the pack when it comes to out of the box thinking.

Which brings me to the main crux of this blog. Football Manager. More importantly, the database that Sports Interactive compiled to make it the leading game in the market for management.

Forget the actual game itself and the mechanics, that’s not important. What teams like Celtic should be looking at is the database. There are hundreds of thousands of players profiled in the database and with an accuracy that stands up to the acid test.

In the 2012 addition of the game, the developers had a list of top 20 “Wonderkids”. The term is self-explanitory, but in terms of the game, it really means players which, if handled correctly, have the right coaching team around them, get the game time they need to develop, will make it into the top echelons of the game.

Now, obviously, I don’t think it factors in a players personality. Whether he’s a dick, or whether he can handle the pressure of big games etc. That much, I would hazard a guess as to being just that, a guess.

But lets look at the 2012 list of Wonderkids and where they are today and what their total transfer fees added up to;

Mario Gotze – Dortmund – £53m
Ter Stegen – Barcelona – £10m
Kurt Zouma – Chelsea – £27m
Adryan – FC Sion – £0
Jack Wilshere – West Ham – £2m
Xherdan Shaqiri – Liverpool – £52m
Yaya Sanogo – Toulouse – £0
Oscar – Shanghai SIPG – £88m
Erik Lamela – Spurs – £42m
Phil Jones – Man Utd – £17m
Christen Eriksen – Spurs – £13m
Neymar – PSG – £279m
Paul Pogba – Man Utd – £94m
Raheem Stirling – Man City – £50m
John Fleck – Sheffield United – £0
Jack Robinson – QPR -£0
Serge Aurier – Spurs – £32m
Jordan Ayew – Swansea – £19m
Carlos Fierro – San Jose Eathquakes -£0
Thibaut Courtois – Real Madrid – £40m

£818 Million worth of Transfer Fees. Now forget the attainability of these players. But that’s an incredible strike rate for the database. And this is 2012 when the likes of Sterling was 15, Pogba, 18 and Neymar still played for Santos. Nobody had really heard of these players. Sports Interactive and their team did.

15/20 players predicted to be the best bunch coming through who have either forged a good career for themselves, or are operating at the very top of the game. Now, looking at that list, there’s not many that would fall into Celtic price bracket these days. But back when this list was compiled, they’re 15-20 years old, and they didn’t make their big money moves for a good few years. Theres a small window to do something there.

Jumping forward to now, there is a similar list floating around just now with players in the same position as these players were back in 2012. This is the top 7 of each position based on data gathered by Sports Interactive’s team. Many are way out of our reach already, but this is the very top echelons and just page one of thousands of players. But all you need to find is 1.

There are many factors in how Sport Interactive compile their database, much to much to accurately convey here, but for the interests of stream-lining, they use two main indicators of where a player is and where they’ll think he’ll be in the years to come. Current Ability (CA) and Potential Ability (PA), each ranging from 0 – 200.

In terms of the SPFL, around a 130 CA player will win the league. Anything higher will rip the league to ribbons. 150s is a comfortable Premier League player. 160+ is walking into the world class players and 170+ are the players who win the Champions League every year.

Currently Celtic have 7 players at the club considered 149 PA or above. 4 at 155 and above and 2 at 160 and above. Ntcham at 160 and Tierney at 170 (which rates him as potentially one of the top 5 full backs in the world.

For context, Messi is the only 199 Current Ability player in the database.

Easy enough, right? Not so much.

To get this level of detail, Sports Interactive have a system in place that pits a network of scouts all around the world. There are 6 main researchers, then under them you have 100 head researchers who look at specific leagues and nations as a whole. Below them are around 1000 assistant researchers, who look at the individual clubs in those nations.

To get the most accurate product possible, they have a system of checks to prevent fans of a particular team getting too giddy and over-exuberant with players ratings etc. Including a filter that goes back up the pyramid to be signed off by the head guys.

The leg work has been put in by the guys who compiled the database. You just need to consult it.

Which brings me to the point – Why aren’t we using this database to identify players. It’s literally a resource that costs about £29.99.

If I flicked the game up now, I could pull at least ten names of RBs who would be worthy of us looking at. The process isn’t a complicated one.

Use the database to identify a pool of players based on talent, affordability etc > Go watch these players live > make a decision on their talent merits >

“This isn’t Football Manager. You can’t just pick a player and sign him in days.” The Snake famously said that a while back when we grumbled about signings.

Despite the condescension, most fans know that.

But we’ve had the inclination that Lustig was done for the better part of 2 years. We knew he was leaving come January. We had circa 7 months to identify a pool a candidates, which clearly, we didn’t do. If we had used this this database, it would’ve been a far simpler process.

Have our scouting team watch them live. Gather data on what kind of person they are. Do they thrive under pressure, do they crumble in adversity. This is a massive avenue that from my research, only Borussia Dortmund seem to have taken advantage of.

It’s not a one size fits all solution by any means. But it is absolutely a launching pad to get these types of players names on the desk before they hit the heights that puts them out of our reach.

This isn’t just a game. It’s a highly sophisticated, well funded, in depth and likely, the best scouting network in world football.

It’s efficient, stream lined, simplistic in its goal, highly accessible and trumps anything else on the market comfortably. It’s a German way of thinking, if you will.

Football has moved on from sending your best scout down the park to see if anyone is any good. Nor is it mired in the old ways of having “contacts” who put you onto a player. It’s a technological age, and we need to step up and join it. grab those small inches off the park and it’ll give us the yards on it.

The data is there to be used. So the question is, why aren’t we taking advantage?

FK Sarajevo 1 – 3 Celtic

Before we start; that park and those conditions are a rough place to try accurately judge a player. We’ve all been there at one time or another where you’re playing on a cow patch and feel like Messi – just absent the touch, pass, energy, well, basically any resemblance of talent.

With the exception of Mikey Johnston’s goal, we’ve seen this script before. Teams sit in and we struggle to break them down while being slow and ponderous in possession letting these teams filer in to an 11 man brick wall.

Like I said, the conditions were awful. Unless you’ve been in that position of playing on a ploughed field that relentlessly cuts up, you don’t know how difficult “the simple” becomes. A first touch becomes two, a 10 yard dash feels like 30 and you lose a yard. It’s tough going.

But, from the moment Mikey slammed that thunderbolt home; we finally settled. The passing still wasn’t crisp, the movement wasn’t on point, but we done enough in trying conditions. No gripes with the players or their application. Eddy took his goal well but looks like he still needs that extra yard to get back up there. Simunovic looks like the weak link and definitely will be the one to drop out next week when Julienn is fit and ready to go. Star man before he went off was easily Mikey. Took his goal with class, but we just need to work on him with that final pass and getting his head up.

But Lennon oddly, was the real culprit in making this more difficult than it had to be.

Above is roughly the average positions the players spent in tonight. Some key features were;
– McGregor operating in the space in front of the LCB/LB, which is much the same as he was asked to do under Rodgers.
– Boli wasn’t shy in getting forward and looks like he can deliver a decent ball, but also looked comfortable defensively.
– CBs are still expected to make up that extra man to beat the press.

This was a banana skin, yet we went with an untried formation and personnel. Bitton has featured lightly this preseason and never at Centre Back. Each game has also seen us line up with a back 4. Why in the name of the wee man would you choose this game to get creative? We’ve known for weeks we were headed to Sarajevo, which means we (should’ve) known for at least that long how we would line up formation wise. So why not use this in at least one of the preseason games?

We got lucky in this regard. We could have so easily been 2 down before Mikey turned the tide.

All things considered, it was a decent first competitive outing. Managerial choices aside, we done exactly what was needed. No more or less. You will have a noisy bunch on twitter claiming a poor performance, but this early on, take the win and move on. Can’t please all of the people all of the time.

8 days later and another preseason game under the belt will see us sharper and faster. It’s a decent base to launch from.

3 away goals. On to the next round.

This is Not the Biscuit in Your Looking For.

Finally! Finally, Pedro has come to the party! He’s got his best shoes on, his dancing moves primed, but more importantly, he brought his wallet and by god does he needs a wheel barrel for it!

Ever the optimists here at the Celtic Way Blog, we’ve sat quietly, waiting. For anything really. David Turnbull saga aside, we’ve been too quiet this summer while those around us get their business done. Regardless of how you judge the quality of their business, they’ve at least had a plan and executed it in good time.

But finally, and I say this with palpable relief and a belief that Pedro has uncorked the biscuit tin to do damage – Welcome to Celtic Christopher Jullien!

I’ve got somewhat of a unpopular opinion on all things transfer related. We’ve all seen and laughed at the damage recklessly chasing that which is wildly out of our reach can do. And what a laugh it was. Now I severely doubt the same could happen to us because, well, we’re not run by incompetent crooks. But that being said, the prudent approach buy the board may have provided the platform for the final assault on 10 in a row.

It’s fair to say, from around the time our neighbours went down the pan, till we signed French Eddy, we put the brakes on “marquee” signings. Big money gambles that make the likes of Pedro’s sphincter shrivel up and have him patting himself down looking for his wallet. Just in case. Heated driveways and disco lights apart, Celtic have been prudent in their expenditure. Since 2012, Celtic have outspent their transfer income twice. Brendan Rodger’s first and second seasons. Ironic since he pretty much took Ronnies team and made them better. But that’s hopefully the first and last time I need to mention his name. Ever.

Consulting Transfer Market, that leaves Celtic roughly £36 million quid in the green for transfers in the last 8 years. Our last accounts as of February this year had us sitting at £38.6 million, up over £8.9 million from the same period last year. That’s no bad going for a league that gives you a pat on the heid and a lollipop for winning it. And I know, the old guard will slaughter a mention of the accounts, and no, the balance sheet can’t play RB. But it’s the strength of that balance sheet that we’ve built up over the last 8 years plus, that’s made £7m and £9m signings possible in back to back seasons. Throw all the “Balance Sheet FC” insults you can think of, but without that balance sheet, where are we? I’ll tell you where, we’re sitting on the cusp of history without a pot and a depleted squad who have absolutely run their legs off for the last 3 seasons. I don’t believe for a second all those loan deals were designed for this moment where we’re sitting on a fortune for one last push at the 10. But it seems to have worked out that way. And we’re not done yet.

We’re not in the know, far from it. If we see something we might comment on it here and give our tuppence worth. Like we all do. That being said, the spending will continue. We don’t have a choice.

Everybody has had their say on Peter Lawwell in one capacity or another over the years. There’s no denying he’s a shrewd businessman. And again, I’m not saying that the plethora of loan signings over the last few years have been in any way a master plan for this moment. More likely a result of the biscuit tin being buried under that heated driveway of his. But by luck or design, we’re in a position to nail the rest of the league to the floor for the fourth season running. And this season more than any in the run to 10, is the most important. The money that has been thrown at the squad across the Clyde in the last 3 seasons has been obscene. This season is their hail-mary, by all accounts they’re all-in. If they blow it this year, next year will be ever harder. Celtic are turning the screw on 9 in a row. Imagine what we will do for 10.

It’s a peculiar situation though. I was knee deep in pint 6 when the final whistle went and the Treble Treble was confirmed. That deflation when 20 minutes after the whistle, before we had even lifted the cup, the news filtered around that Lennon was full time. I won’t lie, I wasn’t in the minority on this one. But by appointing Lennon, it’s painted a target on Lawwell (like he needed another one). He must back Lennon to the hilt and beyond. It’s his arse after all.

Pedro can be the guy who either killed 10 in a row or made it an absolute slam dunk. You can only lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Pedro has got a grip of the reigns, and we’re on our way. Very soon, it’ll be over Neil and the rest of the bhoys to prove all the nae-sayers wrong when they grumbled over his appointment.

It’ll be firmly on his shoulders to make sure each and every player in that squad, plus whoever else pitches up in the coming weeks, drinks, and drinks deep.

Nine is more important than Ten. For now.