Celtic’s lack of transfer business ahead of Europa League clash with Zenit St Petersburg is a mystery says Davie Provan

0
49


THE clock is ticking towards Celtic’s clash with Zenit St Petersburg but you’d never know it.

The lack of transfer business being done by the champions is a mystery.

Peter Lawwell watches on from the stands

Getty Images – Getty

Peter Lawwell watches on from the stands

Maybe Peter Lawwell is waiting until the last minute for maximum impact.

He’s done that before. When the club had a bit more ambition, he got the signing of Craig Bellamy over the line with minutes to spare.

Bellamy wasn’t even guaranteed a game, he was brought in to back up fellow strikers John Hartson and Chris Sutton.

Mind you, that was an era when Celtic took some of Europe’s biggest scalps.

Craig Bellamy celebrates with Chris Sutton in 2005

News Group Newspapers Ltd

Craig Bellamy celebrates with Chris Sutton in 2005

The continent’s elite never got it easy at Celtic Park. Changed days.

Maybe I’m being hard on the Celtic chief executive.


BET £10 WITH SUN BETS AND GET A FREE £30 BET


For all I know, he could have a posse of marquee signings up his sleeve for deadline day.

Either way, he must know Brendan Rodgers needs help.

If the recent Old Firm game told us anything, it’s that this Hoops side needs an overhaul if they’re to be serious Europa League contenders.

Sure, they’re still coasting towards another domestic championship but that shouldn’t be enough to satisfy anyone at Celtic Park.

Europe is the only place serious football clubs judge themselves.

In fact, Derek McInnes was spot-on when saying Celtic should be aiming for a Treble every season.

Their financial advantage leaves all Scottish opposition in the rear-view mirror.

That’s where it becomes hard for Rodgers who’s in a no-win situation.

Lawwell will back Brendan Rodgers

PA:Press Association

Lawwell will back Brendan Rodgers

Having set the bar so high for himself last season, anything less than another Treble will disappoint supporters.

But a decent run in the Europa League would light up the entire club.

And if Ajax were capable of reaching last season’s final, why shouldn’t Celtic be aiming high as well?

There was no shame in coming up short in the Champions League given the quality of opposition.

Seeing off Anderlecht for third place in the group was always the target.

But what’s the point in making the Europa League if you’re not serious about competing?

For long enough Lawwell has claimed every penny the club earns goes straight back in to the club.

He might be right but it sure as hell isn’t going back into the team.

Lawwell and Rodgers

Kenny Ramsay – The Sun Glasgow

Lawwell and Rodgers

Simple arithmetic suggests Celtic are sitting on a pile of cash.

Two consecutive Champions League qualifications has to be worth £50-60million.

Crowds have doubled since Brendan took over from Ronny Deila.

Last season’s Treble saw all domestic prize money hoovered up while the 50th anniversary of Lisbon delivered a merchandising bonanza.

Throw in the cut of Virgil van Dijk’s move to Liverpool and Celts are quids in alright.

Frankly, their dominance of the SPFL is allowing the board to get away with murder.

But lording it over a poor Rangers side shouldn’t be enough to get directors off the hook.

Ahead of the Zenit game, supporters should be questioning the ambition of this board.

Roberto Mancini wont have come cheap for Zenit

Reuters

Roberto Mancini wont have come cheap for Zenit

As we stand, it amounts to a 32-year-old centre back for £900,000 and a promising kid from St Mirren.

Let’s leave Lewis Morgan out of it for the moment. Hopefully he’ll fulfil his potential to become a proper Celtic player of the future.

But where are the type who can come straight into Rodgers’ team and improve it?

It’ll take more than Marvin Compper to see Celtic go the distance in the Europa League.

The Russians have never won Europe’s premier competition of course. Their 2008 Uefa Cup triumph was their high water mark.

But you could never question their ambition.

Owned by Russia’s third-biggest bank Gazprombank they paid top dollar to hire the likes of Dick Advocaat, Andre Villas-Boas and Mircea Lucescu.

You can bet current coach Roberto Mancini hasn’t come cheap either.



Last summer they splashed out on a raft of young Argentine internationals who they see as their future.

Currently second in Russia’s top flight, they’re now in a three-month winter break.

You could argue Celtic are getting them at the right time, but they’ll still be in decent nick.

By the time they pitch up in Glasgow next month, they’ll have played plenty of football after training camp friendlies in Dubai and Turkey.

They’ll fancy themselves for a good run in the competition.

In the meantime, we should hope Celtic are in good shape themselves.

Nobody expects a return to the days of Bobo Balde earning £35,000 a week but punters are entitled to the very best team the board can provide.

At the moment, they’re being sold short.


IN 2012, Steven Naismith had a decision to make.

Transfer his contract to the odious Charles Green and play in Scottish football’s bottom division or join Everton as a free agent and secure his family’s future for life.

He did what any player with half a brain would have done.

Now despite having other offers on the table, the 31-year-old striker is offering to play for Rangers for nothing.

For a club surviving on handouts it should be a no-brainer but Naisy is being told he’s not welcome by the hard of thinking.

Even by Gers’ recent standards, this takes the biscuit.


THE SFA shouldn’t be criticised for their pursuit of Michael O’Neill being made public.

The moment they approached the Irish FA, the cat was out of the bag.

Since then, O’Neill has played a blinder, giving both the IFA and SFA the come on.

By leaving his options open, he’s already secured a bumper offer from the IFA and could still land a Premier League job in England.

But it’s now make your mind up time for Hampden chief Stewart Regan who must decide if O’Neill is worth £600,000 a year for a part-time job.

Ahead of this month’s Nations League draw, Regan should have a Plan B in place.

Approaching Hibs for Neil Lennon would require tin hats at Hampden but it would make sense.


NACHO NOVO could never be described as a top player.

The wee Spaniard was as likely to fall over the ball as stick it in the top corner.

But like Leicester’s Jamie Vardy he had an attitude to die for.

That spirit saw him part of a Rangers side that reached a Uefa Cup Final and score one of the great Scottish Cup-winning goals in 2009.

Hard to believe such a bundle of energy is recovering from a heart attack. Get well soon, wee man.


TWENTY ONE-YEAR-OLD Everton defender Mason Holgate faces an FA misconduct charge after posting homophobic tweets.

Quite right too I hear you say, except the offensive messages were posted when Holgate was a 15-year-old Barnsley youth player.

Now I get the need to stamp out discrimination, but where does this Holgate issue take the game?

If players are to be judged on their mistakes at 15, the FA’s disciplinary department will need an extension.


GOOD to see the video ref experiment work so well in the Chelsea-Arsenal Carabao Cup game.

Yeah, I know Arsene Wenger and Antonio Conte moaned about the time it took but it proved referee Martin Atkinson got the big calls correct.

If nothing else it’ll spare us the clots who want refs to make decisions on a hunch.

Foul-mouthed Scottish gran Liz Black turns the air blue on French TV during Celtic’s Euro clash with PSG

Keep up to date with ALL the latest news, transfers and goals from Scottish football plus fixtures, results and live match commentary




Read The Story Here

SHARE

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here