OK, I know in my ‘return’ post I said I was going to leave old news alone. I’d promised I’d keep things fresh by looking at new, fast moving information, and shed my very own light on them. Well, I’m going to slightly break that in order to combine my view on the Mexican game and my beloved Celtic. You see, since I’ve been away the Hoops have announced a link to the Coahuila-based club, Santos Laguna.

As somebody who sees a great deal of Mexican football, I see this a really shrewd move by the board, and am delighted at the potential it offers the club. As we all know, Celtic’s traditional markets have been strangled by the vice-like grip the Premier League holds over the majority of Europe. Greatly inflated fees have quickly spread all across Europe, with even 17 year-old unproven kids being priced at £20m. (Yes, anybody who has seen him can appreciate that Romelu Lukaku of Anderlecht is a wonderful talent, but £20m? I think not!)

This has forced the club to widen the net, and look to markets that would normally be both out of sight and out of mind. So far, Lennon has done reasonably well in the transfer market from very different areas of the world, with the Israeli Beram Kayal and Emilio Izaguirre from Honduras being particularly impressive. And this is the right type of market for Celtic to exploit, finding players who are relatively young (Kayal is just 22, and Izaguirre is 24) to bring to Europe, nurture, and sell on for a profit. Indeed, there is already reported interest in Izaguirre from Manchester United, with a rumoured £10m figure for him.

Of course, it is disappointing to think that a club of Celtic’s size will have to become a ‘selling club’, but we have to be realistic. There is no money at all in Scotland, which means the game and the clubs will have to adapt to survive. This means a combination of signing youngsters at a really early age (the Ajax system) and then buying players from leagues with even less finance than our own, and selling them at a huge profit (the ethos of PSV). And of course, if Manchester United will sell Cristiano Ronaldo, ANYBODY is for sale.

What better way then to look to exploit these kind of markets than by taking on a feeder side? A club right towards the top of the Mexican game (they finished runners-up in this year’s Apertura championship, progressed through to the CONCACAF Champions League quarter finals, and won the Clasura in 2008) makes them an attractive proposition for the better players in South and Central America, which ultimately benefits us, too. After all, the better they do, the better the calibre of players available to us through the partnership.

Now as the Mexican Primera is not exactly a regular on European television, many Celtic fans may well be wondering just how fruitful the partnership will be. Are there any players worth signing? Is the Mexican league actually any good, or is this nothing but a publicity stunt? Well, I’ve decided to do my very own little scouting trip to hopefully provide you all with a little more info, and whether in my opinion they’d offer anything extra at Celtic Park.

Oswaldo Sanchez: 37 year old Mexican international goalkeeper. Sanchez has won 98 caps for his country, and played at Santos for four and a half seasons. A decent shot-stopper, but prone to the odd error, especially with crosses. Too old to be a realistic signing for Celtic, with no re-sale value. Worth signing? No.

Jose Antonio Olvera: 24 year old Mexican international central defender. Olvera has won 3 caps Mexico, is good on the ball which also allows him to play in midfield. He’s calm while under pressure , but he’s greatly let down by his lack of size. At only 5 foot 8, he would struggle at the back in the aggressive nature of Scottish football. Worth signing? No.

Uriel Alvarez Rivera: 20 year old Mexican defender. Rivera has yet to win a cap for his national side, but he certainly shows promise. He is strong in the tackle and good on the ball, although he does suffer a little with inconsistency. Perhaps one for the future. Worth signing? Maybe in a few years.

Jonathan Lacerda: 23 year-old Uruguayan defender. At 6 foot 2, Lacerda is certainly built like a defender. Decent in the air, and with an ability to win some vital challenges, Lacerda could be ideal at Parkhead. At 23 he is a great age to sign, but he is currently fourth choice central defender defender for Santos. He’ll need to break his way into the side for a sustained period before he’s even considered. Worth signing? Yes, but not just yet.

Felipe Baloy: 29 year-old captain of Panama, central defender and club captain. 6 foot 2, and a colossus at the back, Baloy is right out of the Bobo Balde mould. Very mobile, with a desire to get forward, Baloy would become a cult hero at Celtic Park. Only negative is that he is a month away from his 30th birthday, and as such he would have little or no resale value, but this is countered by his qualities on the pitch. Worth signing? Yes, immediately.

Jorge Estrada Manjarrez: 27 year old Mexican international wing-back/ full back. Santos Laguna regularly play with three central defenders, and so I’ve normally seen Manjarrez play as a wing back, but what impresses me most is his mobility. He’s constantly joining attacks, has a lot of ability when it comes to crossing and he even pops up with the odd goal. Only made his Mexico debut in 2010 and suffered an injury, or I suspect he’d have a few more than just one cap. However, once again I think his size would be an issue as he is only 5 foot 6. In addition, he’d struggle to dislodge Cha, Hinkel or even Wilson out of the side. Worth signing? No.

Carlos Morales: 31 year old Mexican international left wing-back/ left midfielder. Morales has won 8 caps for his country, the last one coming in 2005. Another decent player going forward, offers plenty of width and a decent cross into the box, but he struggles defensively. His age works against him, and he’s not a patch on Izaguirre. Worth signing? No.

Jose Cardenes: 25 year old left full back/ wing back/ left midfielder. Cardenes has won two caps for Mexico, and scored on his debut. Cardenes is a real creative force for his side when he plays further forward. Skillfull, quick and with a peach of a left foot, Cardenes is at his best when operating further forward. Great from a dead-ball, his corners are a particularly useful weapon for Santos. At 25 years old, he’s still young enough to be a worthwhile signing. Worth signing? Yes.

Fernando Arce: 30 year old defensive midfielder, has won more than 40 caps for Mexico. Arce is one of the vital tools in this Santos Laguna side, sitting in a holding role alongside Juan Rodriguez. Always available for a simple pass, with the ability to get forward and put the ball in the net. Another small player in stature, but without him, Santos are not the same team. However, Celtic are at their strongest in the middle of the park, so despite his talents, I don’t see him as a real option. Worth signing? No.

Juan Rodriguez: 31 year old central midfielder, has also won in excess of 40 caps for Mexico. Originally broke into the national side on the back of his goal scoring exploits at Club Atlas, where he scored more than 50 goals in 6 years from midfield. He became renown for his set pieces, although he has now become more of a ‘simple stuff’ type player, much like Lennon himself was. Lacks a cutting edge in the tackle, and would probably be another to struggle in the aggressive Scottish game. Worth signing? No

Daniel Ludena: 28 year old Argentine attacking midfielder, who began his career at River Plate. In my opinion, Ludena is the best player at Santos Laguna, and he has been reportedly interesting several clubs in Spain. Ludena is exceptional from dead-balls, very much in the Nakamura mould, and averages a goal every three games from midfield. He has great vision, and regularly unlocks defences with a wonderful through ball. Although not the quickest, he’d slot straight into the Celtic side and stay there. Worth signing? Immediately.

Carlos Darwin Quintero: 23 year old Columbian international striker, wide midfielder. Well, what can I say about Quintero? Easily the most frustrating player in Mexico, Quintero certainly has the ability to be dynamite. He has blistering pace and great skill, and at 23 he has definite potential. However, his finishing is highly erratic, and he frequently picks the wrong option. Think Samaras but about twice as quick and half as tall! Should score far more goals from the positions he finds himself in. Worth signing? Dubious.

Christian Benitez: 24 year old Ecuadorian international striker. Of course, the second the partnership was announced Celtic were linked to the ex Birmingham striker, and for good reason. Benitez was the top scorer in the Apertura on his return to Santos, scoring 16 goals in 22 games, and he also averages a goal every other game for Ecuador. It never quite worked out for Benitez in England, but he is a predator in front of goal and has blistering pace. At just 24, another spell in Europe is certainly not beyond him, and I’d undoubtedly back him to be a success. Would certainly offer another option up front, even if only used as an impact player. Worth signing? Yes.

Are you a fan of Mexican football? I’d love your feedback either here or follow me on Twitter.

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Greetings all. Once again, I feel the need to apologise in the opening line of my blog, and there are certainly some metaphorical cobwebs to blow away. A little self loathing, and even more self doubt have kept me away from this place, but no more (there’s only so much Football Manager a man can play in a day after all!) I also need to hold my hands up and admit that my later blog entries had gone a little stale. I had lost my edge, largely because I was blogging about old news. Lesson learned, methinks.

So plenty has happened since I’ve been away. Celtic have got themselves right back into the title race, Notts have  had to sell their most influential play maker, and Darren Bent has proved beyond reasonable doubt that too many Premiership footballers are mercenaries. But that’s not fresh news, you can read about it anywhere you like. No, instead I’m going to talk about something a little more personal.

As some of you may know, I’m fortunate enough to do a job I adore for a living: I get to commentate on football from all around the world. I think it’s time I started to talk about those games here, so expect a post in an hour or so.

Until then, this might interest you. If you fancy a free ticket to a Football League match, keep your eye on this page.

Catch you all very soon.

Wow. After a prolonged break from my blog, the story I have to come back to is a ‘biggie’. Suddenly, the loss of our unbeaten home record just doesn’t quite cut it.

Munto Finance, the group responsible for changing the face of Notts County, have decided they’d rather remain anonymous than stay involved in English football, and pulled the plug. Then, just a few days later, Hans Backe has walked out on the club, stating ‘promises have been broken’.

Is it just me, or is there a feeling of deja vu here? Didn’t Sol Campbell leave us for that same reason? Sadly, I feel Sven will be next out the door. The club now appears to be fighting for its very existence, amid reports that there is only have enough money to pay the players for December and January.

If you believe the Guardian, which perhaps more of us should have done a few weeks back, then Eriksson is currently embroiled in a fight with the club (or the ex owners) for money which has not been paid to him. This may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, and Notts County without Sven is a much worse proposition.

Notts are now crying out for investment, and at least with Sven on board that investment is feasible. However, even if he stays, the club craves some kind of stability. It certainly feels like Munto were a Trojan Horse, and I have to wonder if their finances were holed up in Dubai. After all, they have also pulled out of their bid to buy the BMW Formula One team, which gives me the impression that their cupboard is bare.

Sven is at least a widely recognised face, and if he commits himself to the club I am hopeful investment will follow. That being said, I fully expect him to leave. If he does leave, the squad will be dismantled possibly even as early as January, and the top players will have to be sold. Without Munto’s backing, I have to wonder how Kasper Schmeichel’s weekly wage of allegedly £12,000 is sustainable in League 2. Kasper is at least good enough to play in the Championship, and that is probably where he will find himself.

There will undoubtedly be clubs in League One with a need for a proven goalscorer, and Lee Hughes will be on their radar. Ben Davies may be another option, and the list goes on.

Without wishing to be melodramatic, it appears the club’s future is in the balance. What is needed then is for us as supporters to pull in the right direction. Yes, we are all disappointed that the dream has died after less than six months, but I do have to wonder just how many of us are genuinely surprised? The most important thing is we have a club to support, and once again, the club really needs us.

Lets get ourselves out in numbers and show the boys we’re behind them, whether we win, lose or draw.

The club may be the laughing-stock of the English game, but they are our laughing-stock. Hell, we’ve been a laughing-stock since I’ve been going to the ‘Lane! Our home record over the last few years is enough to make your eyes water, and we’ve had more spankings than Max Moseley. Yes, I’m going off on a tangent, but my point is we’ve had some atrocious teams. Even if we lose two or three players in the coming weeks, we’ll still be better off than the Gudjon Thordarson side!

Does have to make you wonder about the next managerial shortlist though, I reckon I’m in with a shout.

We often hear about the lack of funds in the Scottish game, and how this has left the SPL in the financial wilderness. Just this summer, the TV revenue invested in Scotland has roughly halved when Setanta went the way of the Titanic, and the difference in class was there for all to see when Arsenal spanked us all over the park in the qualifier. But is money the be-all-and-end-all?

Arsene Wenger was lucky to be able to rest two of his stars last Wednesday, in Andrei Arshavin and Robin Van Persie. Yet even without this pair, and the likes of Nasri, Rosicky and Fabregas, it was a stroll for the Gunners.

After a little glance at the BBC 606 site, I see that most Arsenal fans think their side wasn’t particularly expensive, coming in at a combined total of about £33m. Celtic, on the other hand fielded pretty much their strongest side, with the exception of million pound midfielder Barry Robson. Celtic’s full-strength side had a value of about £17m, or the price of Arshavin. You see where I’m going here don’t you? Just so you can see my figures, I’ve included the teams below, and the values I believe were paid. (If I’ve got anybody a million or so off, I apologise, but keep looking at the bigger picture)

Almunia- 1.5m
Sagna- £6m
Gallas- free
Vermaelen – £10m
Clichy- 250k
Song- 2m
Diaby- 3m
Denilson- 2m
Eboue- 200k
Eduardo- 8m
Bendtner- free

Overall-32.95m

Boruc- 1m
Hinkel- 1.5
Caldwell- free
Loovens- 2.5
Fox- 1mil
McGeady-home grown
Brown-4.4m
Donati-2m
Maloney-home grown
McDonald-750k
Fortune-3.8m

Overall- 16.95m

So that’s it eh? Celtic fans should just accept that European progress is now impossible and forget completely about the Champions League? Sorry, I don’t buy it.

Surely the answer here is our scouting network. If clubs like PSV can make the Semi finals, as they did in 2005, then why can’t we? PSV spend pretty much nothing on transfers, but sell players players on to the bigger leagues and then reinvest the profits. If we use PSV as an example, here’s a list of their players over the last few years, most of whom were signed for nothing or almost nothing….

Ronaldo (the original one, the one with a minge on his head, not the ‘winker’), Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Jaap Stam, Arjen Robben, Klass-Jan Huntelaar and Mateja Kezman.

Compare that with some recent Celtic players and you’ll see my point. Surely a club of Celtic’s stature should have a scouting network that can uncover some similar gems? And if not, somebody needs to be sacked.

PSV aren’t alone. While Arsenal were struggling to make ‘marquee signings’, they were able to sign the likes of Adebayor for £3m, and sell him for £25m!

Now I accept my philosophy would make us a selling club, but it’s only by adopting this attitude that we’ll be able to generate the kind of money and with that, any chance of any real European success. Controversial, yes, but sadly, I think it’s essential.