“Hats off to Dom McKay for what has been a terrific window”

We’ve been here before when there’s Celtic satisfaction after a transfer window closes – last year for instance – but this time it’s not been a case of papering over the cracks with a collection of loan deals and a short term outlook geared towards one title win only and to hell with the consequences as one powerful man tried to write his own legacy at the club after almost two decades in charge. He managed to do that regardless but not in the way his own ego would have wanted.

So although we won the previous season’s Scottish Cup Final, which was delayed until December – and we nearly messed that up too, leading 2-0 at half-time to a Championship side before having to relying on winning the lottery of a penalty shoot-out to secure a fourth successive treble, we actually ended last season’s competitions empty handed losing in the League Cup at home to Ross County and in the Scottish Cup to theRangers at Ibrox. In the league we finished up an astonishing 25 points behind the Ibrox club, winning its first ever major honour.

That bloated and unsuccessful Celtic squad had to have a major overhaul. The Want Away players – who were retained for an extra season to try to secure the Ten – had to be dealt with and moved on, the loan players had to be returned to sender and the remaining squad quality critically assessed.

That all fell into the remit of two men Dom McKay, the new CEO and Ange Postecoglou the replacement manager after Eddie Howe got cold feet after the Celtic Board had waited patiently for months for the former Bournemouth manager to formally commit to the job in writing by signing his contract. At the eleventh hour his bottle appeared to crash and instead McKay moved for Ange and here we are this morning on the other side of the transfer window.

Before that football had to be played and Celtic exited the Champions League qualifiers against FC Midtjylland, a very limited Danish side. However progress was made in the Europa League qualifiers but making the Group Stages seemed a tough challenge as Celtic had to play AZ Alkmaar, a very decent Dutch side. Significantly for Celtic’s season that challenge was successfully negotiated with a 3-2 aggregate win although it was almost blown through a couple of crazy defending incidents while 3-0 ahead in the tie, allowing the Dutch back into the game.

So Celtic lost away from home to both FC Midtjylland and AZ Alkmaar but reached the Group stages of the Europa League.

Domestically Celtic have had two fine home wins over Dundee and St Mirren scoring a frightening number of goals but conversely and worryingly, have lost at both Tynecastle and Ibrox – in matches that could actually have been won. On each occasion the squad has been improved shortly afterwards as players given a ‘clean slate’ by Postecoglou failed to impress and were replaced or moved on.

Others though have done well with both Anthony Ralston, so far out the picture before Postecoglou arriving, showing himself to be a determined and decent right back and Stephen Welsh emerging as the best fully fit central defender at the club, although admittedly that particular bar is not very high at the moment.

Postecoglou said at the weekend that he wanted to get to the end of the window then see what group of players he had to work with and then get on with things, without the distraction of transfer talk for the rest of the year anyway. That’s where he is this morning, so what’s the state of play at the club?

It has to be said that Dom McKay has done a very good job regarding fees achieved for the various Want Away stars sold. Kristoffer Ajer (£17m), Odsonne Edouard (£18m) and Ryan Christie (£2.5m) – with the latter only having a few months left on his Celtic contract, is a remarkable achievement for the new CEO, bringing in around £37.5m for these three. The former Scottish Rugby executive tried, but failed to get a fee for Olivier Ntcham, but admitted defeat early enough and released the player after initially taking up the club’s year option to try to force a fee out of AEK Athens. You can’t win them all, Dom!

Other smaller fees were brought into the club as the other less prominent names were moved on, Marian Shved, Vakoun Bayo, Jack Hendry and Leo Hjelde all brought additional revenue into the club while other such as Armstrong Oko-Flex, Vincent Angelini and Paul Kennedy left the club.

Peter Lawwell’s over reliance on loan players was addressed with Diego Laxalt, Shane Duffy, Mohamed Elyounoussi and Jonjoe Kenny all sent backing, with only the Norwegian international worthy of a second thought about a future return if things don’t go according to plan for him at Southampton this season (he’s already scored 4 goals for them).

Postecoglou has been busy recruiting, as he had to be given the scale of the re-build required. Liam Shaw and Osaze Urhoghide were early arrivals from Sheffield Wednesday, although these were deals that the Australian had little input in.

Israeli Liel Abada arrived from Maccabi Petah Tikva and the J-League’s leading goalscorer Kyogo Furuhashi, from Vissel Kobe, these seemed more like the manager’s choices, especially Kyogo who Postecoglou knew well from his time in Japan.

The Celtic B team was strengthened by the arrival on Bosun Lawal from Watford and Joey Dawson from Scunthorpe United and back on the first team Carl Starfelt was signed from Rubin Kazan ahead of the Hearts game and Joe Hart was brought in from Tottenham to be Celtic’s first choice goalkeeper after the opening day defeat at Tynecastle. James McCarthy, a free agent after leaving Crystal Palace was signed and that left the three Likely Lads – the players The Celtic Star told you in mid-August who Celtic would sign before the window closed.

These were of course Josip Juranovic from Legia Warsaw, Liam Scales from Shamrock Rovers and Giorgos Giakoumakis, from VVV-Venlo and all three duly arrived! On top of that Postecoglou brought in Jota on loan from Benfica and in a dramatic last hour of the window move Cameron Carter-Vickers from Tottenham, crucially both with options to buy included.

Leigh Griffiths had been given a last chance to revive his Celtic career with a one year option but quickly blew his chance being sent home from the club’s summer training camp in South Wales amid the latest unsavoury controversy. Yesterday he paid the price by being sent to Dundee on loan, effectively ending his Celtic career.

Other players sent out on loan are Jonathan Afolabi (Ayr Utd) and Lee O’Connor and Ross Doohan, both to Tranmere Rovers.

Celtic v AZ Alkmaar – Photo Andrew Milligan

The Celtic support played their part, selling out season tickets yet again to give the new manager and CEO the solid foundations to work on and this morning we can look ahead with confidence and optimism knowing that Celtic appear to be in good hands with Dom McKay and Ange Postecoglou making the big calls at our football club.

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who 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 editor@thecelticstar.co.uk


  1. The Peter Lawwell bashing is utterly deplorable and inaccurate criticism of a man who presided over Celtic and made them the sovereign club in Scotland. We now have a 50 title advantage over the new Ibrox club and outwith them winning another 50-in-a-row not many alive today will see that gap close, so a big thank you to Peter for the brilliant work he did throughout a 17 year period or so. It didn’t work out last season but he more than made up for it with previous success.

    Dom McKay has had a brilliant start to his role at the club and he will continue our dominance of the domestic game. The signings we’ve brought in are of a very high calibre and I have not a shred of doubt we will win the league this year. With Ange set to go back to the Japanese market in January we can expect a further few faces at the club in the coming months to close out our 52/ 1 title winning season. The level of expectancy among the fans is well entitled; the levels of ‘entitlement’ among some, is not.

    Thank you Peter, thank you Lenny, thank you Dom and thank you Ange. And thanks to every single last player who has been involved throughout and to those who shall be involved henceforth. Good luck to you all.

  2. Sems your channel cannot handle independent thought or fair reviews. Hence you delete my posts. Tells us all about who you really are. Dictatorships are formed this way. You now have one less viewer. Not that you ever wrote anything worth a viewing. THIS is how it feels.

    Red Scotland, OUT.

    • The only post of your deleted was the one last night stating that no-one is interested in women’s football. There were also two other similar posts that didn’t make it onto the site. Celtic and indeed most big clubs around the world are heavily involved in developing the women’s game and trolling our coverage of that is not on. Don’t read it, if you aren’t interested.

  3. Red Scotland, I feel that you are being a bit too hasty. Many Celtic supporters agree with you about Peter Lawwell who I think did a great job for Celtic over 20 years. Last season was a bad one, I have to admit.
    But the value of websites and this one in particular is that we can talk about things before we go to extremes! Make no mistake about it though – the day will come when some Celtic supporters will turn on Dom Mackay and Ange Postacoglou! Sometimes criticism is justified, sometimes not. We have to all make up out own minds about that. So, don’t be too hasty, Red Scotland, We are all in this together.

  4. Eamonn McKinney on

    What an excellent piece of journalism. Very well written, very informative. Looking forward to being a regular reader. Hail Hail.