Following on from Part One…
Neil Lennon is back and, with one round of qualifiers hopefully safely negotiated, there is another chance to back him.
It had appeared that Celtic had learned from last year and, having made three early signings to go with that of Shved, that seemed the case. But the transfer activity has stalled and holes remain throughout the team.
Lawwell supporters will argue that he has overseen a period of unprecedented dominance in Scottish football, particularly in the past three years. There is merit in this view. The treble Treble has been a fantastic period but it doesn’t have to be the pinnacle.
That complete annihilation of any kind of domestic threat was borne from Celtic moving away from the model of the previous two managers, young and untested, and going for proven quality in Rodgers.
It was paid back not only in silverware, but in pound signs too. Celtic has never had as much money in the bank, thanks to two successive Champions League qualifications (again, made more difficult than they should have been) and season books once again flying off the shelves.
Yet, having found ourselves in the position of having all this money, we now find it increasingly difficult to spend it. We have spent £10m but we have the same amount off the wage bill and await the likelihood of at least one big name exit.
The risk in writing something like this is that the club could sign five brilliant players by the end of the week. I’d be happy to look foolish if that’s what transpires.
However, based on evidence of previous windows, the strong possibility exists that we will have to rely on a scramble in the loan market at the end of August to shore up the squad for a tilt at nine in a row.
By the time that happens, this year’s Champions League could be a distant memory.
Lawwell has done well in many aspects for Celtic. In the primary function of supporting managers with every resource the club has at its disposal to put the best team possible on the pitch, he has been inconsistent at best.
The captures of Edouard (eventually on a permanent deal) Sinclair, Van Dijk, Wanyama, Roberts and others are a massive credit to him. Too many punts haven’t worked out though and if he gets credit for the successes, he has to take his share of the blame for the flops.
Financial prudence risks losing vital games that could earn us more money than anything on offer in Scotland. Player sales are an easy and often utilised way to mask those losses, but it’s to the detriment of the team.
This is fiscal conservatism gone around the block to meet itself on the way back from the pub as a reckless gamble.
Indeed, gambling, such as with the appointment of Deila has been a feature of his reign.
The failure to provide Gordon Strachan with a striker in the winter of 2008/9 was a huge gamble that let Rangers back in the door.
The appointment of Mowbray followed and a ‘generation of domination’ had crumbled before our eyes, as the Ibrox club, jacked up on financial steroids, won three titles in a row and robbed us of our chance of Champions League income.
A failure to build from a position of strength (not for the first time in our history) led the club into a rapid spiral of decline.
Those who talk only about the money Lawwell has made Celtic neglect to mention his part in the tens of millions squandered in these years alone.
Win, lose or draw, however, and Peter Lawwell, with eye-watering salary and bonuses, remains among the highest paid people at the club.
While we struggle to compete with EPL players’ wages (no small wonder) we can still compete with EPL chief executives’ salaries. There is little chance of this changing with the makeup of the board and the remuneration committee.
When the manager, just weeks into his role, is talking about putting square pegs into round holes for vital qualifiers, you wonder how far away his frustration of 2016 will be from resurfacing.
Last but not least, fans also feel let down over the EBT scandal alluded to earlier. It’s a huge topic on its own and others have covered it in far greater depth but suffice to say it’s the main thing for many people, some of whom do not go back to Celtic Park today as a result.
Players come and go. It freshens up the team. Managers come and go. We get fresh ideas. Upstairs, there doesn’t seem to be a need for fresh ideas, as Peter Lawwell cracks his knuckles and settles into his favourite tough negotiation position.