An opinion piece in the Irish Mirror has perfectly summed up the dilemma that Eddie Howe, or Celtic’s next manager faces as the old regime clears out.
Neil Lennon has gone, Peter Lawwell could be replaced this week by Dom McKay with that less than dynamic duo failing to secure Scott Brown with the skipper set to join Aberdeen when this season ends.
Without doubt Celtic have produced players capable of playing at the very highest level. Any club that could field Virgin van Dijk, Kieran Tierney, Stuart Armstrong and Moussa Dembele would be taken seriously with Kris Ajer and Odsonne Edouard likely to join those exiles in the coming months.
Behind those eye-catching transfers however there is a Tale of Woe with some disastrous transfer business still stalking the club.
Jack Hendry seems to have turned his career around but Vakoun Bayo and Marian Shved are due back in the summer as reminders of past mistakes in the transfer market. New York RB are reported to be interested in Patryk Klimala but it’s unlikely they’ll match the £3.5m fee that Celtic shelled out 15 months ago.
Echoing the thoughts of many Celtic fans, Nick Murphy in the Irish Mirror writes
The waste on busloads of players who simply couldn’t cut the mustard is mind-boggling; in the 11 years since Neil Lennon first took the manager’s job, the Hoops have brought over 100 signings into the club.
While generating revenue from transfer fees is key, how the money is reinvested is surely of equal importance and in this regard the recruitment at Parkhead has left a lot to be desired.
In a state of the nation address following Rangers’ title triumph, Ibrox chief Dave King bombastically accused the Celtic board of arrogance and pointed to a lack of spend on team strengthening as being key to his own club wresting the title away.
He may have got the arrogance part right but he was quite wrong in regards to investment; in the summer past Celtic spent a significant amount on fees, loans and wages on Moi Elyounoussi, Vasilis Barkas, Diego Laxalt, Shane Duffy and Albian Ajeti.
The problem was not with what was spent – it was who it was spent on. It was clear Celtic needed a striker and Peterborough’s Ivan Toney was the main target.
In the end, despite the player wanting to come north, the Hoops refused to pony up the cash and spent slightly less on Ajeti – whose input has become something of an embarrassment.
The Swiss looks unfit, moody and disinterested while Toney has torn it up in the Championship, scoring 28 goals for new club Brentford and emerging as a target for several Premier League clubs.
Unfortunately for Lawwell and those underneath him – this is no accident. Teemu Pukki, Mohamed Bangura, Amido Balde, Stefan Scepovic, Nadir Ciftci, Carlton Cole, Colin Kazim-Richards, Patrick Klimala – there appears to be an endless list of gambles on strikers who just weren’t up to it.
Steven Fletcher, John McGinn and others, meanwhile, were allowed to disappear south while Celtic haggled over pennies.
Then there is the phantom that is Barkas; billed as the £5m man to fill Fraser Forster’s shoes but truth be told Neil Lennon might as well have placed a scarecrow in nets – and some might argue in Scott Bain that is exactly what he did.
Then there is Duffy – a great signing on paper who would surely find Scotland a breeze given he’d held his own in England for years. While hindsight has 20/20 vision, his signing has been a disaster, his weaknesses brutally exposed by the way Celtic play.
Massive questions have been posed as to why such a player – who is best suited to defending the edge of his own box – was brought to the club in the first place. Where was the data analysis? Who gave the OK?
While Howe will represent something of a coup if his appointment is confirmed, finding a new manager is only one of a host of problems incoming CEO Dominic McKay will have to solve if the club is to regain the championship.
If Eddie Howe and Dom McKay appear at Celtic Park this week the fans will be hopeful that the bad old days are almost over with a new progressive strategy opening up.