‘To Buy Or Not To Buy?…That is The Question!’

‘Is producing home-grown talent not the point of our Lennoxtown investment?’

Earlier on today our good friend, James Cameron, wrote a thought-provoking blog about whether the Celtic board would sanction a minor signing spree in light of the distinct possibility of Champions League revenue heading our way.

I have always wanted my beloved Celtic to be successful, I love to see us genuinely ‘compete’ with Europe’s giants of the game.

I remember with great affection and with immense pride, watching Celtic go toe-to-toe with Juventus, Milan, Barcelona, Ajax, Manchester United and many, many more illustrious continental clubs…all comfortably better than anyone we could play at domestic level.

We rarely under O’Neill or under Strachan capitulated and were totally embarrassed, sure we had our wobbles, we had more than our fair share of defeats, especially on away duty but humbled…no!

In the days of O’Neill, Celtic spent a unpresidented level of cash on supplementing the squad with quality players. We had never seen signings the likes of Hartson and Sutton before, at a hefty £6million a-piece we probably won’t see them again, or at least for a long time to come.

What we spent though, under O’Neill, was however badly, badly needed after the equally high value Barnes signings like Rafael Scheidt and Eyal Berkovic failed to shine.

Celtic were falling, or so it seemed, light-years behind Rangers who had consistently for many years splashed out millions and millions of pounds, lavishly and to great acclaim from their fans and the media. Their then ‘great’ chairman, David Murray, had even the gall to tease and mock his rivals transfer bugets…what a brass-neck he had, huh?!

O’Neill was Dermot Desmonds’ bhoy, his baby, his appointment. Dermot was a proud Celtic man and deep down he was hurting like hell, he decided on O’Neill and backed him to the hilt…that was spending actually beyond our means but Desmonds’ pride was hurting and he bank-rolled the club to the tune of many millions in order to stem the tide of arrogance emanating from Ibrox and Murray Park.

Desmond did however know that the excess was a short-term solution and that to prosper on the park and to curb yet another decline, it was badly needed.

We were spoiled by the days under O’Neill, both on and off the park we had reasons to cheer our clubs achievements, it seemed we were on the up and up.

Consider the standard of player then at the club, ok forget Guppy, Sylla and Rab Douglas, seriously though the calibre of player we had then was frightening…Larsson, Sutton, Hartson, Petrov, Balde, Valgareen, Lennon, Lambert and Lubo, each of them legends in their own right.

Still we may have competed at Europe’s top table but financially the plan was neither viable nor more appealing than it was to produce our ‘very own’.

David Marshall and John Kennedy, to name but two, were massive revelations during that spell, both were besieged by bad luck and never fulfilled their full potential at Celtic but both alongside guys like Jamie Smith, Colin Healy, Liam Miller and Stephen Crainey showed enough to suggest that international stars of tomorrow were also ten-a-penny at Parkhead.

All that despite our then training academy being just a pipe dream, our facilities at Barrowfield, frankly laughable and our coaching set-up ‘first team centric’.

I can honestly say that guys like O’Dea and McManus, whilst not quite Valgareen or Balde quality, could stand up favourably among the performances of Daniel Majstorovic, Gary Caldwell, Kelvin Wilson and Glenn Loovens for whom far more money has been individually spent.

Dermot Desmond, you and I, and the Celtic board invested money into a major redevelopment of the clubs, scouting, youth academies, training facilities and coaching programmes…the talent is already bubbling just below the surface. The fruits of much hard labour may be about to pay off, big style too.

Unlike the spend, spend, spend days of old…we now have an opportunity to make a virtual conveyor belt of top talent ready and able to match our needs, all the while doing so at a very much financially viable, indeed profitable level of business that will safeguard our club through whatever future recessions may throw at us.

Given that we have a great depth of youth and that we have a more than strong enough squad to win our league, any spending would be purely with a view to being credible contenders in Europe.

As James suggested earlier, should that be a mandate to go and make a signing or two, we would not grumble…but do we need to? Does it make financial sense? Will it make a footballing chasm, easily bridged?

To all three of those questions, I say no.

If we can preserve the crown jewels in our squad whilst further developing our youthful talent, I’d be happy.

Any money banked from a European adventure may well be better spent next season or the season after, if saved wisely it may buy the kind of player who virtually guarantees to compete at the top-level, spent in drips and drabs now…it will almost certainly be on players at a level we have consistently explored previously.

Course we all want to see a new face or three, hey I’d love Jordan Rhodes and a top class centre half but we neither need Rhodes desperately enough to entertain the notion of a £6million plus bid nor have the funds to do so.

I’d opt to hunt around the transfer market and look for another hidden gem, another Wanyama would be a delightful wee find, or perhaps we could even get a loan deal with a proven player of some pedigree.

I’d love to make every player in our academy as successful as possible rather than continue to seek someone elses waifs and strays. I’d love to develop another bunch of modern-day ‘quality street kids’ the likes of which Dalglish was a product.

Our greatest ever team was undoubtedly the Lisbon Lions, a bunch of Scottish bhoys mainly reared through our youth policy and supplemented with the best Scottish talents available. The joy those guys give us all to this very day and will forever more cannot be equalled by our signing of English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch or South American league left-overs, for every Ledley, Crosas, Balde, Thom, Cadete, Di Canio, van Hooijdonk or Izaguirre we’ve also had a Slater, Fernandez, Doumbe, Hinkel, Ibrahim, Blinker and Scheidt. Not that all of the second batch are necessarily a waste of time but most haven’t or didn’t cut the mustard.

I’d love to have the Celtic team full of Mulgrews, Forrests, McGeoughs and Watts, admittedly a Twardzik or an Atajić will do equally as nicely…these bhoys are motivated not just when the going is good but through thick and through thin, most if not always, now are, Celtic fans and will do anything for the jersey.

Most of those young lads have also been given a wonderful experience by virtue of our NextGen series involvement, a few may very well be motivated to new heights of achievement if the carrot of real Champions League experience looks likely.

Do we spend money to make sure we get beat by less of a margin, a short-term strategy or do we at long last use the market and the situation we find ourselves in to make sure that our long-term stability is wholly catered for?

For me that’s a no-brainer…who said you can’t win anything with kids anyway?

Hail Hail

@brianbhoy07

Comments

  1. You are correct Brian and I endorse your thinking. Solid and as always well informed and researched. For sure our future is holding our nerve and nurturing our youth. Yes apparently we have the best squad of youth players in Scotland. Judging by their performances throughout various competitions they do stack up against the best. However as we all know a talented young football star doesnt always make a professional player who can succeed in the top flight. Its a number game, a bit like investing in yearlings and two year olds in racing because their progeny suggests they may be the next Frankel. More fall by the wayside than make it. Along the way we have to compete with mature and crafty professionals plus the antipathy that we face from referees [last weekend’s game against Ross County in point] adds to our challenge.
    So while I agree with your thinking the pragmatist in me says we need new signings.
    And just as a heads up for this season. We are not going to win this league in a cantor. Our competition is going to come from Dundee United. No one else has the energy and talent to take us down. And they have spent years in the wilderness while their youth policy bears fruit.
    HH

    1. I agree, Dundee United are strong favourites to being our closest contenders, although I think we will have way too much quality for them over the coming weeks and months.

      Not every ‘prospect’ will make it, I am pragmatic enough and hopefully, despite my best ‘village idiot persona’, I’m bright enough to realise the chances of producing an entire first team squad of homegrown players is but a pipe-dream.

      I just think we should aim to put the utmost faith in our youth policy.

      If we had the funds to buy the kind of players who could realistically make us progress to the latter stages of the UEFA Champions League, then I’d back the spending. As it is, we don’t…we therefore should resist the temptation to supplement the squad which is more than strong enough for our domestic aspirations and preserve it’s function for only additions of ‘outstanding quality’ players.

      Even at that I would be more than prepared to see us to be fully tested and pushed all the way in our domestic league as we bring on youth, rather than simply to buy players who sweep all away with ease.

      In the long-term that is in our best interests…our short-term gain cannot be allowed to compromise our future prosperity.

      Cheers mate, oh and welcome aboard.

      HH

  2. You are correct Brian and I endorse your thinking. Solid and as always well informed and researched. For sure our future is holding our nerve and nurturing our youth. Yes apparently we have the best squad of youth players in Scotland. Judging by their performances throughout various competitions they do stack up against the best. However as we all know a talented young football star doesnt always make a professional player who can succeed in the top flight. Its a number game, a bit like investing in yearlings and two year olds in racing because their progeny suggests they may be the next Frankel. More fall by the wayside than make it. Along the way we have to compete with mature and crafty professionals plus the antipathy that we face from referees [last weekend’s game against Ross County in point] adds to our challenge.
    So while I agree with your thinking the pragmatist in me says we need new signings.
    And just as a heads up for this season. We are not going to win this league in a cantor. Our competition is going to come from Dundee United. No one else has the energy and talent to take us down. And they have spent years in the wilderness while their youth policy bears fruit.
    HH

    1. I agree, Dundee United are strong favourites to being our closest contenders, although I think we will have way too much quality for them over the coming weeks and months.

      Not every ‘prospect’ will make it, I am pragmatic enough and hopefully, despite my best ‘village idiot persona’, I’m bright enough to realise the chances of producing an entire first team squad of homegrown players is but a pipe-dream.

      I just think we should aim to put the utmost faith in our youth policy.

      If we had the funds to buy the kind of players who could realistically make us progress to the latter stages of the UEFA Champions League, then I’d back the spending. As it is, we don’t…we therefore should resist the temptation to supplement the squad which is more than strong enough for our domestic aspirations and preserve it’s function for only additions of ‘outstanding quality’ players.

      Even at that I would be more than prepared to see us to be fully tested and pushed all the way in our domestic league as we bring on youth, rather than simply to buy players who sweep all away with ease.

      In the long-term that is in our best interests…our short-term gain cannot be allowed to compromise our future prosperity.

      Cheers mate, oh and welcome aboard.

      HH

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