‘State of Confusion’ – As usual Celtic are frustrating in their transfer window dealings

Spaceman 3 had a line from a song that used to intrigue me “taking drugs to make music to take drugs to,” well it all sounded very bohemian and creative back in the 90’s. That was never entirely my bag, Justine Frischmann and Elastica had lyrics that more in line with how I lived my life at the time “waking up and getting up has never been easy. Make a cup of tea, and put a record on.”

Most days of my student existence I did just that to start the day, and almost every weekend I still do the same. Jobs, marriage and children as well as Kids TV and the school runs make it a little more difficult Monday to Friday, otherwise I’d probably still be doing the same – take some time out make some tea and listen to old or new records and either come to a little or at the end of the day just unwind. Perhaps not the drugs Spaceman 3 used to create their art. A brew did me just fine and was a lot cheaper.

Nowadays as the record plays and the tea passes my lips, I scour the internet. What is going on in the World of Celtic?

At this time of year and in this particular pre-season the need for some positive news is even more acute than it perhaps has been in previous years. A huge squad rebuild seems essential. Yet now as the record turns it feels like I’m listening to two at the same time, except one record feels like it’s the same old songs on a constant repetitive loop, the same broken record we’ve been listening to for far too many years now and it starts to make me think the Spaceman 3 boys had the right idea after all.

But is that fair? Is this the same as previous years, are the board lacking direction, planning and playing lastminute.com with transfer targets, waiting for the European landscape to become clear before issuing funds later when Champions League or Europa league monies are confirmed rather than speculating to accumulate those possible riches? Is the caution showing genuine hesitancy or has a micromanaging CEO left a shambles of an organisation behind and it is leaving us hamstrung this summer?

Or is this summer’s transfer market impacted by the uncertainty of the pandemic, delayed by agents and the Euros? Or indeed is our need for speed and the introduction of new talent to bed in for a new manager at odds with players and their representatives preferring to wait and see what is available and are willing to hold fire until nearer the end of the transfer window?

We know we have a new CEO and manager but we’re also without a Chief Scout and Head of Football Operations following the exits of Gary Penrice and Nick Hammond. As such there are few rumours of players linked that we haven’t heard at some point in the last 18 months or so and it is clear in the main at least we are working to a database of talent left behind by those guys.

That of course is due to a structure needing addressed but that won’t turn around quickly and isn’t the fault of Dominic McKay or Ange Postecoglou, and although we can apportion both blame and cause at other members of the Board I get the impression when the Peter Lawwell show was in full flow many of those guys were so marginalised they were left impotent when it came to standing up and making changes.

As such we’ve sat on our hands as a club and until McKay took over, we had no-one bringing ideas to the table. And all of this may well be the reasoning why Celtic are struggling to get deals done, however money and an immediate access to it may also be playing a big part here.

Ange Postecoglou – Photo Nigel French

At present, though they may not admit it publicly, Celtic financially it appears have a real issue with liquidity. The books at half yearly stage looked like we were heading for a £20m deficit compared to a ‘normal’ season. The Frimpong, Klimala, Elhamed, Hendry, Bayo and possibly future sale of Shved may be earmarked for that purpose alone.

Personally, I don’t see the club risking spending money they don’t have or eating into an overdraft facility to fund a rebuild when it will be viewed as being needed for the possibility Covid impacts us again this season. I think as such we may revisit that in January when perhaps the landscape is clearer.

For now, I think Ange was clever in stating this week what positions he saw as immediate priorities. Right back was one where he was most explicit alongside Central defence which indicated more than one was needed and he stated the need for wingers. You’d assume he was indicating a need for those on both the left and right sides of the pitch, but it seems he’s prioritising left wing for now. I think Postecoglou made that public to indicate that’s as far as his budget will go for the time being.

Photo: Nigel French

That’s not to say Ange doesn’t want a goalkeeper, a strong experienced central midfielder and a striker on top. Even after that I’m sure he’d prefer a left back too but for now he’s likely to go with Bolingoli and Taylor simply as they are functional and deemed adequate for now.

Ange it appears he knows his budget, and will supplement with young players like Liam Shaw to add some depth and utilise the funds he has on four quality, and preferably experienced, additions in the positions he outlined.

After that the new manager may look to the proceeds of sales, where he may at a push get a third of what is received from transfer fees gained for Ajer, Edouard and Christie and hope those deals are done early enough in the window prior to its closing at the end of August. After that he can start to look at the goalkeeper, central midfield and Striker(s) before the window closes, otherwise we may well be looking at a loan or two again to bridge the gaps.

Photo: Nigel French

The real fly in the ointment now however for the manager has been the Griffiths situation. Ange Postecoglou looked a little less positive on Wednesday. He’ll now be concerned he may have to forego a centre half and get another striker in now, or drop his budget enough to accommodate two lesser value central defenders to fund a forward. I think the enormity of the task is starting to dawn on the manager now and it’s just been made worse by a guy he nailed his colours to, hoping he’d get a positive response from, being unavailable within days of handing him a career saving contract extension.

Dom McKay has already promised substantial funds to be made available to the manager and supporters will be reminding him of just that. What I guess he didn’t disclose was when those funds would be available and over what sort of timeframe. Was it one, two or three transfer windows and was the new CEO banking on getting maximum returns for Ajer and Edouard in particular and is the game of brinkmanship running longer than he’d expected?

This summer it seems like we are once again listening to a broken record when it comes to the names of targets and struggling to close out deals, and all the while gambling with European qualification. As such it seems the more things change the more they stay the same.

This time that may be less to do with the intransigence of a CEO and more to do with the mess he left behind having to be cleaned up by others.

Yet as it goes on sitting down with a cup of tea and listening to a record isn’t quite cutting it in the relaxation stakes, though I’m not quite at the Spaceman 3 stage. Well not yet anyway.

Funnily enough that song was called the ‘State of Confusion’ at this moment that seems pretty apt.


About Author

As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was the finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parkhead's gates.


  1. Have never lost the biscuit tin mentality. Always wanting something for nothing. With nothing you get dross. Even when they do spend they spend on has beens. Celtic used to be a club that everyone was proud to play for. Now it is becoming a laughing stock. Its one thing to have a salary cap but when that cap is so low that we cannot even attract 2 div English players you know that cap is not set properly The signing so far are uninspiring to say the least. Have a chance of a season ticket this year, but frankly, if Celtic are not interested in buying decent players I would pay to see, I won’t be buying. I bet I’m not th only one out there thinking the same.

    • “Celtic used to be a club that everyone was proud to play for. Now it is becoming a laughing stock.”
      Whatever else Celtic might be, it sure ain’t or is ever “becoming a laughing stock”. Such a sad comment from a supposedly supportive ‘contributor’ seems rather, er, let’s just say, ironic. Maybe even more suited to a public laughing stock, although others no doubt will make up their own minds about that one.
      Sad indeed.

    • So negative a post that there’s a distinct odour of someone masquerading as a Bhoy.
      Sad stuff.