Celtic continue to spiral downwards….so what can be done?

October 23, 2009

So here we are again. Another European night, another European defeat. Tony Mowbray is rightly furious with his under-performing players and if I was one of them I’d certainly be fearing for my future at the club. Indeed, earlier this week I encouraged him to wield the axe in January as there are no doubts that the squad contains far too many passengers.

But how have we declined so drastically? After all, in the last 4 and a half years, we have beaten Manchester United, Benfica, Villareal, Shakhtar Donetsk and AC Milan in European games. However, I don’t even think Lincoln City would fear a trip to Celtic Park right now.

We have certainly lost some quality players in the last few years. Shunsuke Nakamura had more quality than most, and we are definitely missing his creativity this year. Then Paul Hartley was always solid for European games, and Jiri Jarosik had bags of European experience, and in my opionion always saved his best Celtic performances for Champions League nights. We then had a big Dutch international at the top of his game in Jan Venegoor of Hesselink (with the clear exception of last year, when we’d have been better off picking a turd in a box) and as much as this may be unpopular, Kenny Miller put in a couple of big performances in his single year at Parkhead.

All 5 of these players had something which our squad now lacks, which is European and International experience. I put the blame for these type of players not being replaced solely at the feet of the board. No side can afford to lose that amount of international players, so a decline in quality is inevitable. The board should be aware of this, and as a result a bigger budget should be given to the manager. After all, 3 of these players were lost this summer alone. Mr Lawwell is always happy to tell us we are nearly ‘debt free’. We may well be, but we’re also the poorest Celtic side in the last 15 years. Even John Barnes’ team had more quality than we do now (what we’d give for a Berkovic, Petrov, Viduka or Moravcik in this team, not to mention a certain legendary Swedish striker).

However, we also need to completely overhaul our scouting network. It’s painfully obvious that we are unable to compete with the big clubs in England anymore, but we should be able to bring in good young players from around the world for nominal fees. I’ve mentioned PSV in a previous blog and I think we need to follow in their footsteps of selling best players for massive profits and investing those profits back into the playing team. They have become a conveyor belt for quality players, and in leagues like ours that philosophy MUST be adopted.

As a result, when we receive offers for McGeady in January I’m sorry to say if I was Mogga I’d accept them, providing I had assurances from the board I’d be given every single penny of the fee to reinvest. An £8m or £10m offer, along with the other £2-£3m he has left of this year’s highly publicised £7m budget would allow Mowbray to bring in 3 or 4 quality players that will completely revitalise our squad.

That alone should allow Mogga to go to his favoured 4-3-3, and perhaps some of his promised “attacking, attractive football” will come to the fore.

It is only with this reinvestment that we can look towards a more succesful European campaign next term. If we don’t, our deterioration will intensify until our situation becomes irreversible, and that prospect alone strikes terror into the heart of Celtic fans everywhere.

Don’t say you haven’t been warned, Mr Lawwell.

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