Predictable. Frustratingly predictable and the groundwork for Tuesday’s defeat

Predictable. Frustratingly predictable. The groundwork for Tuesday night’s defeat/performance was laid during the underwhelming summer transfer window…

– Brendan Rodgers of the Scottish Celtic FC looks ahead to the first match in the group stage of the Champions League against Feyenoord during a press conference, PK, Pressekonferenz in De Kuip. ANP OLAF KRAAK

When Brendan Rodgers was announced, a statement of intent to make inroads in Europe provided us with real hope, excitement and optimism.

The unexpected sale of our talisman Jota helped swell the already healthy bank balance. The disappointment of losing our best player was tempered with the prospect of using the money to make a number of quality signings.

There was talk of £30million being made available for players to help fund these ambitions, and that was BEFORE the Jota windfall!! After the recent release of our financial figures, showing a bank balance of over £70million, those initial numbers certainly would have been achievable. Always unlikely, but certainly not beyond our means!

Brendan Rodgers, Feyenoord v Celtic, UEFA Champions League, Group E, Football, De Kuip, Rotterdam, Netherlands – 19 Sep 2023 Photo Bart Stoutjesdijk/Shutterstock

Our attention was peaked as we were linked with some real quality players on an almost daily basis. And, although (relatively) expensive, the figures being quoted would easily have fitted well within the rumoured budget. Excitement was growing as we window shopped for some players that would undoubtedly improve the team and allow us to compete in Europe.

As the window dragged on our excitement turned to frustration, as it became apparent that there was no intention from our board to make these signings happen. I get that we have a (mostly) successful transfer model, which (simplified) means we buy young prospects, develop, then sell on for large profit.

ROTTERDAM – Brendan Rodgers and Joe Hart of the Scottish Celtic FC looks ahead to the first match in the group stage of the Champions League against Feyenoord during a press conference in De Kuip. ANP OLAF KRAAK

But to have any real chance of making good on the claim that progress in Europe was high on our list, then the signing model would surely need augmented with some quality, experienced and proven additions?

Croatia’s goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic attempts to stop one of the penalty shootouts during the UEFA Nations League final football match between Croatia and Spain at the De Kuip Stadium in Rotterdam on June 18, 2023.  (Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images)

For example, Livaković, the Croatian number 1 goalkeeper was available. At 28, he is in his prime as a ‘keeper and would have provided stability and quality in that position for many years. He eventually transferred from Zagreb to Fenerbahçe for €6.65million. Most definitely NOT outwith our reach financially.

Daniel Podence is challenged by Joel Veltman and Pascal Gross during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers at American Express Community Stadium on April 29, 2023. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Daniel Podence, 27 year-old and allegedly of interest. Again, at that age he should be hitting his prime and young enough to have resale value. He went on loan to Olympiacos.

Brendan Rodgers and Kieran Tierney of Celtic are seen during the UEFA Champions League Qualifier between Celtic and Alashkert FC at Celtic Park on July 18, 2018 (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Kieran Tierney. Rumours of a return to his boyhood club albeit on loan, would have been a real coup. His quality would undoubtedly improve our defence at left back. He would eventually go on loan to Real Sociedad.

Other exciting prospects were rumoured too, such as Wilfred Ndidi whom Brendan Rodgers coached at Leicester. Aged 26 he also should be hitting his peak and was rumoured to be looking at a move away after a frustrating season and relegation of his club to the Championship. No move materialised and he remained where he was.

ROU: UEFA European Under-21 Championship Group D: Norway U21, U 21 vs Switzerland U21 Fabian Rieder in action during UEFA European Under-21 Championship Group D: Norway U21 vs Switzerland U21, disputed on Dr Constanin Radulescu Stadium, 22 June 2023 Cluj-Napoca Dr Constantin Radulescu Stadium Romania 

Fabian Rieder from Rennes is another example. Aged 21 he would appear to “fit” our transfer model. Rumoured to be valued at £6-8m, he would be easily affordable but would, perhaps, stretch the “biscuit tin” a tad too much.

Anyway, you get the point? I can’t be alone in feeling let-down by the apparent lack of ambition from our board? The summer’s underwhelming transfer window had Peter Lawwell written all over it!

It is apparent that just reaching the group stages of the Champions League and banking the £40m (or so) is sufficient for those in charge, and is seen as a success. While our reputation ON the pitch continues to fall due to the reluctance of the board to match on-field improvements with off-field wealth.

Peter Lawwell, Brendan Rodgers and Michael Nicholson. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

I’m not suggesting for a minute we spend recklessly or outwith our means but, what is the point of a football team being measured as £ in the bank, when the team on the pitch suffers as a result? We’ve been dominant domestically for so long now, that surely the next logical step is to invest in the team to an extent that would allow us to show (or at least give us the chance to show) some real improvement in Europe?

Paul Maguire

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. Martin Blackshaw on

    You’re absolutely right, of course. Brendan Rodgers even added to the pain of the underspend by practically admitting that he didn’t pick the player projects who came in, which was a pretty disgraceful admission from the manager. Ange Postecoglou would never have allowed others to pick players to add to the squad, not in a million years. So yes, between Lawwell’s refusal to spend decent money and Brendan’s acquiescence in this short-changing of the fans, the loss to Feyenoord was entirely predictable. My real concern is that there’s worse yet to come.

  2. Time for Desmond and Lawwell TO GO ! They obviously don’t want to progress Celtic in Europe. We could’ve had McGinn and Ivan Toney at the club- think what a huge difference that would’ve made. It seems that Lawwell doesn’t want Celtic to get TOO FAR AHEAD OF RANGERS ! Why ? Is there some hidden dirt that Lawwell has been a party to ?

    I think the process of removing the ruling Junta has to be initiated because they are holding Celtic back. Who was responsible for signing Ajeti,Barkas,McCarthy et al ? I think the Board must be made aware that either they try and seriously IMPROVE the squad or its war ! and that means fan boycotts of games and massive demos calling out the Board. How much would it take to get Desmond to SELL ? I’m sure a group of Celtic-minded investors could be found ?

    The other night in Rotterdam the Celtic midfield failed,the forwards failed and the defence predictably imploded,and there’s that lack of physicality. I think 0 pts in the group is a disturbing possibility and no post-Christmas Euro football.It could’ve been so very different. Next up Beaton and the Livi plastic -what could possibly go wrong ? This looks like a replay of the circumstances surrounding Rogers’ departure after the McGinn fiasco.Historically why do Celtic never build from a position of strength ? I think winning the League could well be more difficult than many think given the attitude of the refereeing community.I FEAR THE FUTURE !

  3. Don’t forget that these higher valued players also demand higher wages and that has a domino effect which has the potential to put us in financial trouble.Celtic while playing in the Scottish League just can’t compete in Europe and anything else being said by management is just lip service to keep our hopes up!

    • Martin Blackshaw on


      If we’re always going to come back to “better players demand higher wages”, then why bother talking about progression of the team. The basic rule of thumb is that you get what you pay for, which was patently obvious again Feyenoord the other night. Celtic wanting to progress in Europe while hoarding the cash they should be using to improve the team is the champaign taste, lemonade money mentality. If they don’t want to spend then keep away from European competition and stop humiliating the club. Stick to the cheap and nasty SPL.

  4. The truth about this present lack of spending will come to light when directors’ bonuses are announced. Personal greed will be high on the agenda