The dust has now settled on the latest summer transfer window and it’s fair to say it’s one which received a mixed reception from Celtic supporters when the clock struck midnight last Friday night.
Yes we had signed no less than nine new players during the allocated time, but has Brendan Rodgers been fully backed by the board on his return to Celtic Park?
Upon hearing of his return most assumed that he wouldn’t be making his way back to the East End without guarantees over budgets, and reassurances over the ambitions of the board and of the direction the club was heading in.
So has that been reflected across our dealings in the last few months?
We spoke with Sky Sports man Anthony Joseph to get his take on that very question, as well as his inside track on the club’s activity across the summer.
“I think if you spend £20M in one window then that’s being backed suitably
Whether Rodgers wanted – or was expecting more perhaps – in this first window back as Celtic manager…? I think Celtic fans were expecting more
But I don’t think you can accuse the board of not backing him when they’ve spent £20M.
It’s all about who they’ve brought in now and are they going to be good enough to step up.”
Which now becomes Celtic’s £20M question!
The Great Unknown
Luis Palma, Odin Thiago Holm, Marco Tilio and our six other new signings may well be more than good enough, and could go on to become absolute superstars for the club.
All could excel under the guidance of Rodgers.
And for all we know this may become one of the greatest transfer windows in our history.
But equally so it may also transpire to be one of the worst.
The challenging fact for most of us at this moment however is that we just don’t know how things will play out.
Maybe that’s just where we find ourselves in terms of how we now recruit, but it’s a strategy that does require a notable leap of faith from the supporters.
We’ve been stung before – and on Rodgers watch – and simply can’t return to signing players along the lines of Youssouf Mulumbu, Marvin Compper and Oliver Burke, to name but a few.
Of course Kyogo, Jota and Cameron Carter-Vickers also arrived at Celtic Park as “unknowns” so there’s a precedent there – and lets hope that we’ve once again gone down that road rather than the one mentioned above.
The Ones That Got Away
Whilst it remains to be seen how our latest recruits perform there’s the nagging doubt that we also failed to recruit in certain key positions and that’s what may be most concerning to some.
A straw poll across the fanbase would have brought the response that goalkeeper, left back and striker were our three priority positions, and as we know the club haven’t delivered in any of those areas.
Despite the shortfall, Anthony is very much of the understanding that the club also viewed these as key positions for strengthening.
“They were actively searching. They were definitely looking to add a goalkeeper and a left back. Ideally they also wanted another striker.
On the night before deadline day I was told it was looking unlikely that they were going to get a left back in.
They’d exhausted their targets and were in no real position or no real desire to panic buy.”
Quentin Merlin (Nantes) was a legitimate target for that left back spot, and Brondby’s Mathias Kvisgaarden and Sydney Van Hooijdonk of Bologna were also considered for the striker position but Celtic were either unable or unwilling to proceed with either.
These positions of course may be re-visited in January.
Champions League Ready?
By January of course we’ll know just how well Rodgers’ new side have fared in Group E of this season’s Champions League – a group containing Feyenoord, Atletico Madrid and Lazio.
So is this new group ready for the challenges that they’ll face at European football’s top table?
“It’s a hopeful draw for Celtic. Of those (potential) Pot 1 teams if you can get Feyenoord you’ve done well.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens. I think Celtic can make a real good go of it.
My only slight concern is that Celtic haven’t properly clicked yet under Rodgers.
They do seem a little bit weaker than this time last year, but the draw is kinder this time around, and Celtic should be aiming for Europe after Christmas from this group.”
The win at Ibrox will go some way towards making this new look side click, and on the other side of the international break we should also see first appearances for Luis Palma, Paulo Bernardo and Nat Phillips as well as the return from injury of Marco Tilio.
Then – and only then – can we start to form a valid opinion on just how good a transfer window this has been.
Anthony Joseph was speaking exclusively to The Celtic Exchange Plus. Listen to the episode in full right now by clicking the link here.