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.

Whose a silly Bhoy then?

August 30, 2009

OK, you may have seen my little rant at Arsene Wenger and co over Eduardo’s spout of cheating in Europe this week, and although I am writing this through gritted teeth,  in the interest of fair play it’s only right I address Aiden McGeady’s ill-advised tumble today.

I mean, what was the boy thinking? Surely he must have known Dougie McDonald was going to be all over any kind of ‘simulation’ after the week’s events? When I first saw the incident live today I like the commentators assumed he’d been caught. Apparently not. Not that you can see it in this video, but the look on McGeady’s face after the ref pulled out the red card said it all. He’d been caught out, and despite my affiliation to Celtic, the referee got it absolutely spot on.

What annoys me most though is that there was no need at all for McGeady to hit the deck. He was in the clear, and he had the full back in his pocket all afternoon. McGeady truely is the one exciting player in Scotland at the moment, but it seems he’s seen the Eduardo incident one too many times and decided to have a go himself.

The sad thing is, as Tony Mowbray has pointed out, both diving ‘incidents’ have gone against us this week, with Arsenal’s penalty and McGeady’s red card, but maybe this will let Aiden know he needs to stay on his feet.

Now I’m not saying he shouldn’t go down if there’s contact, ala Rooney yesterday, but at least wait until you’re actually touched, otherwise you just look like a nipple.

I hope once Tony Mowbray sees the incident he disciplines McGeady, because as I alluded to the other day, I believe strong management is the way to stop diving without any involvement from the governing bodies.

As for the match itself, I thought Celtic could have been better, but it’s the result that matters. Samaras put in a good shift, but if his last minute miss had cost the points he’d have been crucified. But the star of the day was Artur Boruc. Craig Burley described his late save as ‘save of the century’. Is that true? Probably not, but you don’t see saves like that every week.

Looks like the big man is back on form, which is good news for the rest of the campaign.