Brendan Rodgers set for a busy summer as he reshapes Celtic squad

Now that Celtic has successfully completed a double winning season, our intentions should be focusing upon assembling a squad worthy of being competitive at Champions League level next season…

I believe it’s becoming an ever increasing demand within our club, yet the preparation work going into forming such a squad, has been very questionable over the past few seasons.

When you look back at the 25 man Champions League squad from last season, to where we potentially find ourselves currently, then the only conclusion remains, at just how much work is required during the summer to rectify this issue that still remains within our club.

Already, from last season squad, we will be without Hart, Philips, Turnbull and Abada. Add in Lagerbielke and Oh, who don’t seem to be part of Rodgers plans going forward either. And this without knowing yet of where O’Riley, Bernardo, Bain and Mikey Johnston futures could be, and the rumours surrounding Kyogo also, although that seems to be nonsense, as The Celtic Star pointed out straight away.

So could we potentially be looking at 10 plus players being changed from our CL squad from last season for this upcoming campaign?

It remains a huge desire for our club to start delivering results at Champions League level, yet doing so with such a turnover of players in only one year is going to be a major challenge for Brendan Rodgers. He knows that we have to improve the squad and has to gain some form of stability within our squad for a number of seasons to come.  The work for that has to be done this summer.

That stability hasn’t been in place for a number of seasons now, along with not being able to get our strongest 11 as a starting team, during any of our Champions League matches over the last three campaigns.

The theory remains the same, as getting the Champions League squad right, will be far too strong for anything available within Scottish football to compete against, so it delivers domestic dominance and keeps the momentum going for Celtic to build for improving our Champions League ambitions year-on-year.

I would describe last season as a transition season, with the changes involved from Ange Postecoglou to Brendan Rodgers leading to so much inconsistencies throughout the season. The transition never went as smoothly as perhaps the club expected, even if success was gained at the end of the campaign, through the elite management skills of Rodgers.  That in turn out to bed any remaining disharmony about his return to Celtic and that unity can only be a good thing going forward.

Under Rodgers I would expect that the preparation work for next season  to be carried out in a far better manner than it was a year ago when Postecoglou had known for several months that he was leaving and Celtic probably knew too. The large number of project signings didn’t really work out and that’s hardly surprising as the managerial eye of clearly off the ball.

There is a fair amount of work to be done this summer, for that CL ready squad to be assembled this summer. Getting eight homegrown players to fit within the squad, remains a massive task for ourselves to ever get it achieved in terms of the quality required. However, that doesn’t excuse the gap in quality between first and second choice players in each position. During the season just ended that gap was often shown to be way too wide for comfort and as a result so many unnecessary points were dropped in the league.

This gap has to be massively reduced this summer to deliver competence, depth and quality  within our squad, to cover any potential missing players through injury.  The lack of cover in central defence, at left back and even on goals has been a concern and you could add other positions there too.

This hasn’t been the case for the past few seasons, with such a reliance upon key players, as we haven’t been set up properly throughout the squad, to cover such losses in players. We still desperately need to start changing this format within our club, where getting a decent enough 11 is still not enough to be expecting to get the desired results at such a level of football as the Champions League.

Hopefully by the time the transfer window closes, we have in place two decent options available for each position within the squad with the other three places available possibly going to younger Scottish players like Kelly and Vata if they sign their contracts. Maybe be looking at one attacker, one midfielder and one defender to keep the balance correct within the squad.

But more importantly we still have to be looking at whoever fills the positions within our 25 man CL squad are hopefully available to fulfil the requirements of the Scottish season also. This hasn’t been achieved over the past few seasons, but surely we have to be looking to improve upon that for ourselves, and beyond next season too.

We know each season brings a certain amount of changes to our squad, but maybe as many as 10 plus players over the course of a year, remains way too high for any real form of stability to be achieved but it doesn’t mean we don’t strive to achieve this target.

If anything has been learnt from last season, is that the overall squad for the season ahead, has to be shaped much better than a year ago, especially as the depth and quality of the squad is going to be an even bigger factor for ourselves next season, with rotation and managing game time better than we were able to offer during our last season.

Tomoki Iwata gives Brendan Rodgers a perfect opportunity to save Callum McGregor’s legs, the captain can’t be expected to keep up the volume of minutes he has played over the last five years. Rodgers uses his bench very well and we usually see multiple changes around the hour mark. But what we need to see is more like for like in terms of quality when these substitutions are made. The Kyogo for Oh replacement was changed to Kyogo for Idah by Rodgers and that’s one example of this working.

However when you look at left back we had the situation where the right-footed Tony Ralston was having to play on the other side when he came off the bench to replace Greg Taylor. That is unacceptable and Brendan Rodgers knows it too.

Stability and quality within our overall squad still remains the key issues and yet much work is required for that to be achieved this summer. It looks like Brendan Rodgers is going to be busy.


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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email


  1. Justshatered on

    Unfortunately I envisage more of the same as I have little faith in our recruitment team and none at all in our Board.
    Sure people point to O’Riley, Hatate, Kyogo, Abada yet for each of those players at least another three were bought that contributed little or nothing at all.
    Last summer we bought eight players and no one can say the squad, never mind the team, was improved. That means that most, if not all, of those players will have to be moved on before we can start to restructure.
    I’m not saying all of those players are bad but they either don’t fit the style we play or they’ve struggled to adapt to a new environment or the way we play football in Scotland. Regardless our Board will not sanction another round of spending, if you can call it that, without shifting most of those players off the wage bill.

  2. Hopeless article. Keep O’Riley, Kelly and Vata. Sign Miovski and re-sign Jota, Dembele and – depending on price – Idah and Tierney. Sell the duds or send them to Helen St Mirren on loan.