When the manager arrived at Celtic Park, he spoke about the objectives that he had for the team for the season ahead. He didn’t elaborate on what they were, leading to speculation from the SMSM and fans alike as to what those might be. Win the League Cup? Check. Win the league? Check. Win the Scottish Cup? Two games to go, if we get past the newest Glasgow club in the semi final and then beat Hibs or Aberdeen. Win the treble? Assuming that the first 3 are taken care of, then automatically, the 4th follows. Win the league with a record points total? Score the most goals in league history? Concede the fewest goals in league history? Scott Sinclair reckons that hitting 100 league goals is the next objective for the team. If we score 13 in the last 5 games and he’ll get his wish. Despite the best efforts of some of the “top” officials in the country, the team remain unbeaten. Another objective maybe?
Thoughts, understandably turn to the Scottish Cup tie on Sunday. The truth is that if the team turn up and there are no honest mistakes, we’ll be back at Hampden in May to try and clinch the final leg of the treble.
The gaffer has already spoken about his recruitment plans for next season and undoubtedly, Lee Congerton will already be hard at work, along with Laban Scott Libby, also formerly of Hamburg and Sunderland, who has been hired as a technical scout. As you’d expect, the new man has a similar outlook on statistics and big data to Congerton. Having worked together before, you’d imagine that it should be a relationship that hits the ground running.
With the manager having signed a 4 year deal to stay on, he’s surely been given certain assurances from the board about his transfer budget for the next window and for those beyond this summer. He’s not spent a lot of money thus far so there will be a sizeable kitty during the summer. That pot could swell if as is likely, Virgil Van Dijk moves on before the start of the new season. Liverpool are the latest EPL club to target him and is said to be Jürgen Klopp’s first choice for defensive reinforcements. Throw Arsenal, Chelsea and Everton into that mix and a slice of the reported £50m transfer fee should be added to the transfer pot. Celtic are shopping in a different market though to a lot of the other big clubs so the work and nous of the 2 aforementioned gentlemen will be key. When Manchester United can afford to give Jesse Lingard £80k a week, rising to £100k if they make the Champions League this season, then you know the game down south is in a world of it’s own.
The gaffer is on record as saying that he believes that no one will be leaving Lennoxtown before the Champions League qualifiers and that he’s confident he’ll add to the squad before the first qualifying game in July. That said, the squad is clearly too big and there are sure to be a few leaving before the end of the transfer window. It’s time for at least one of the goalkeepers to move on and whichever 1 or more of the 4 that is, reinforcements will be needed. Ambrose has less than 6 weeks left on his deal so should be for the off, ditto with Izzy unless he’s happy playing second fiddle for another season to Tierney. If you believe the Manchester Evening News, Tierney would prefer a move to Old Trafford this summer, rather than to Spurs where they expect to lose Danny Rose to Manchester City. Seems unlikely, right? Bitton has a deal for another 3 years but is his time up in Glasgow? Time looks to be up for Commons also with his deal expiring next month. Tierney sharing agent, GMS has a deal for another 2 years, can he still make an impact? Roberts looks to be heading back down south in the summer unless the manager can convince the player and Guardiola to stay for at least another year. There are currently 11 player out on loan. Of those 11, would you expect anyone else other than Ajer, Christie, McCart and Nesbitt to come back or go on loan again? If you read reports, then Inter Milan are preparing a £60million bid for Kylian Mbappé from Monaco. Whilst he has 2 caps for the full side, should Celtic me looking for much less if they look to move Moussa Dembélé on this summer? Is £40m really that outrageous?
Given all of that and his new deal and those likely assurances from Dermot and Peter, the manager is in a strong position regarding who is sold and bought whilst he is in office.
The manager has apparently drawn up a list of 3 main targets that he has in mind to recruit this summer and in his words, “wants players who will get supporters on their feet”. So, we know who might go but who will come in? Who is on the list of 3? Regrettably, it’s unlikely to be some of the players that Congerton spotted whilst he was away scouting in South America. The new head of recruitment is credited with having found Coutinho, who he then recommended to Chelsea. Throw the names of Neymar and Pato in as well and it’s clear that he loves a Brazilian. Insert your own gag here!
Celtic have reportedly enquired about the availability of Emerson Hyndman from Bournemouth. Would it be cheeky to say that a bid has been made, just in time for it to reach the Sunday papers? Who else has been linked though?
The Bojan Krkic rumours won’t go away and he’s out of contract at the end of June. Could Celtic attract someone who has won the Eredivisie, the Dutch Super Cup, the Intercontinental Cup, the Spanish Cup, 4 Spanish Super Cups, 3 La Liga titles, 2 Champions League medals as well as lifting the Club World Cup?
Again, he’s on record as saying that he’s only interested in “game-changing” players. Can that player be a goalkeeper or a defender though?
What about the players currently plying their trade for teams who are likely to be relegated from the EPL? Could we coax Denayer back north? Would you want to? Donald Love, the defender who shares a name with a baddie from GTA3 is highly rated. Worth checking out if Kolo moves onto the coaching team? Is there realistically anyone else in that side that you’d take that we could afford?
Middlesbrough? The players that you might take if you were the manager, we probably couldn’t afford. Ridiculous really.
If Swansea go down, then Ki would be a shout for this Rodgers’ side. Would Gylfi Sigurdsson be out of reach given that he’s been linked with Everton and Southampton? Probably. Is it a case that we’ll look at the Championship again or will Congerton and Libby have to spread their net a little bit further to find those 3 players that the manager wants?
Time will tell.