Trouble in Paradise?

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So we have a rather public shot across the bows from our manager and a reaction of sorts (you may call it lip service) from the board. Trouble in Paradise?

John McGinn signed for Aston Villa as Celtic were entertaining AEK Athens at Parkhead. In the days leading up to and having been prompted at a press conference Brendan Rodgers responded to Villa’s courting of said player with the sort of response you’d perhaps see from 5 year olds in the playground chasing that first kiss. ‘ I told my pal I fancied her, he was supposed to ask her out for me, how come wee snotty Stevie is trying to hold her hand?’….or something like that.

Scorned, Brendan reacted, not so forcibly as to kick his pal’s backside for dereliction of duty to ask out the lassie but enough to furrow his brow and wave a finger theatrically to show displeasure at the outcome. Stevie wasn’t really entertained other than to appreciate his eye for fancying the same talent. Fair play to Stevie said Brendan.

So in the week of such an important match how did it come to this and is Brendan having a strop or is he right to let frustration spill over however politely he may have expelled his thoughts? Putting aside the timing which was unfortunate I must say.

From Brendan’s side I can see his point. He’s given the board a few targets and reaction has been slow. John McGinn is a good player and Brendan would have fancied developing the lad with a view to being heir apparent to Scott Brown. Either Hibs were difficult to deal with or our bids were not sufficient. I’d suggest the latter as we soon upped our bid when Villa started batting eyelashes in McGinns direction.

From the manager’s point of view he’s earmarked a few positions for strengthening. At the very least Patrick Roberts and Stuart Armstrong need replaced and once done ideally he’d like better quality than what we have to take the squad forward. He also wanted players tied up to new contracts, Rogic an Tierney, more than likely Boyata also and get that deal for Edouard done please. Other than that Brendan loves to work with what we have, coach and develop.

So have the board let him down?

Remit outlined the board go into action, or at least examine the wants and decide how to progress. No doubt like any good organiser prioritising the actions as they go.

So big pile of cash on one side and Brendan’s list for Santa on the other the board move into action.


Tierney is done early,  that’ll secure a promising talent and if overtures from down south and abroad materialise we’re sorted for maximum compensation. Big tick Job done.

Rogic looks good at World Cup and even before the big event we know the likes of Leeds are already mentally undressing our number 10. Contract talks are protracted but job done ahead of Russia and Leeds move their flirtatious glances elsewhere. I think we all agreed that was a good bit of work.

Now for French Eddy. Oh dear that’s going to take some outlay. Figures bandied about varied between 4.5 and 9 mil. It took some too-ing and froing and although undisclosed,  leaks suggest it breaks the transfer record for the Club,  so not an amount to be sneezed at. Big tick and a slap on the back.

Boyata is next. This one isn’t getting the eye from the once beautiful now decaying Leeds but the full on ‘Come on’ from Premiership pretty young thing Fulham and glamourous Italian Lazio. This has been harder, to keep this one interested a steak dinner and a night on the town isn’t going to cut it, we are looking at a weekend in Paris or a trip to Venice. We haven’t lost the fight but the Board aren’t getting a tick for this just yet the woo-ing must continue.

Now onto the Ins. We’ve signed permanently a good back up Keeper in Scott Bain and possibly the most promising youngster of last season in Lewis Morgan. Nice. I’d suggest the board would also consider Morgan as Patrick Roberts replacement. Patrick was playing second fiddle to a resurgent Forrest and a promising youngster who can be patient fits the bill. Job done. If that’s too much pressure on one kid we sign a 2 year loan deal with an option to buy with another promising lad .Arzani from Man City.

Getting there now, nearly up to speed. No? Well let’s look at the squad. What do we have and what do we need?

Do we need a goalkeeper. No. All covered there with Bain an able back up to Gordon and happy to play second fiddle (De Vries and Hazard if we get really unlucky).

Centre half position we have 5 players Compper,  Hendry,  Ajer,  Simunovic and Boyata. If Boyata goes he’ll need replaced but not required yet. If we play a back 3 or a back 4 we have 5 centre halves for a maximum of 3 positions often just 2.

Full backs. On left the Tierney plays most weeks and Jonny Hayes can cover when required (Emilio is coming back too). Young Church is being lauded at reserve level and Calvin Miller sniffed around last year. At right back we have Lustig and Ralston as cover, could possibly do with replacing Lustig and Ralston fine as cover but is he ready to step into Lustig’s shoes? Not yet for me so Right back required, assuming Gamboa remains in the wilderness.

In midfield we have a plethora of talent. Armstrong and Roberts go. Arzani and Morgan have come in.

Brown has cover in Kouassi and in Bitton. We then have Ntcham, Rogic, Sinclair, McGregor, Christie, Forrest, and even Scott Allan or Mikey Johnston. 13 players for 5 positions at the most.

Up front we are spoiled with Griffiths, French Eddy and Moussa Dembele.  We usually play one and occasionally 2 up front. Hard enough to keep 3 strikers happy but young Aitchison is there as back up if we ever get down to the bare bones.

So what do we actually need?

I don’t buy this Armstrong needs replaced thing too much, we have cover and he wasn’t an influential player last year. Christie went out on loan to get the experience, now he has it we can use him as the fleeting player Armstrong was last year. Let’s see what he has got this year.

So we need a right back and if you don’t class Hayes as suitable left back cover (and I don’t) a left back too.  Looks like a deal for Izaguire is done and dusted and that suits all parties. He comes back home and we have good enough cover for when Tierney needs 40 winks. Sweet! We possibly need a centre half even if Boyata stays as Compper is looking somewhat injury prone I hear you say.

So let’s examine the board’s actions. Well, we placed a bid for a Sporting full back who has gone to Valencia, Cristiano Piccini. We lost out there but at 7 million a fee was apparently agreed but the player chose Valencia. I’ve been a few times. Football aside I see the attraction. But the point is Brendan asked for quality to come in. That lad is quality and we have missed out but it shows the will is there and prioritising a position we do need covered long before the luxury of an extra midfielder (Sorry John McGinn).

Granted the board haven’t delivered at right back nor do they have Boyata signed up. However rumours are abound on Jason Denayer returning to Paradise and that for me would be an able addition and again evidence of the board addressing the issue of quality in replacements. Perfect if Boyata goes and a statement of intent regarding backing Brendan with the quality he craves should Denayer come in and Boyata signs on again. (Reports this morning indicate Denayer has turned us down).

Going forward (and remember our window is open, only England closes this evening), we have shown the appetite for a quality right back and I’d imagine there’s an alternative the staff have put forward that we all hope we are chasing.

I understand the bosses frustration, really I do but we have had large outlays on keeping the squad together and signing Edouard permanently. We have added youthful promise in Arzani and Morgan and we have an able deputy to our number one.

I understand it stings when you publicly declare your affections and she wanders off with someone you’d say was less attractive (and Stevie sure is unattractive) but the week of a Champions League qualifiers was not the time to deal with such distractions. The end of our window is the time to contemplate and take stock. For now we just need to keep looking pretty for potential suitors.

There’s plenty more fish in the sea and the trawlers are still at work.

Niall J

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