Celtic Are Weaker But Not At Their Weakest!

Celtic supporters are understandably frustrated by what went on behind the scenes at Celtic Park during the recent transfer window.

The Scottish Premiership champions managed to break their transfer record when they signed Odsonne Edouard from PSG for £9m. Emilio Izaguirre returned to act as cover for the left back role and Aussie whizkid Daniel Arzani arrived on loan from Manchester City. Lewis Morgan is now a fully fledged Celtic player too.

On the final day of the window, Brendan Rodgers finally added a new centre-back with Croatian Filip Benkovic coming in on loan from Leicester City. Veteran midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu has also been brought in to add competition and bite to the midfield positions.

But a lot of the business was done too late in the transfer window, by the time most of the new recruits arrived The Hoops had already bombed out of the Champions League.

Then there are those that departed during the summer months.

Stuart Armstrong left early enough to be quickly replaced but the Celtic hierarchy dragged their feet and eventually lost out on main midfield target John McGinn. When that move fell through they should have then tied down Mulumbu but that didn’t happen until yesterday.

Obviously Patrick Roberts returned to Man City after his loan deal expired at the end of the last campaign. I’m assuming that between them Morgan and Arzani will be asked to fill Roberts’ boots. A tough task for the youngsters but Roberts was in the same boat when he first arrived at Parkhead. Celtic boss Rodgers does have a healthy record of getting the most out of young exciting attacking talent.

The last minute sale of Moussa Dembele is the biggest loss for me.

People will point at his injury record and say he was injured too often, but the Frenchman played in 94 games for the Glasgow giants in just over two seasons and bagged a whopping fifty-one times in that timeframe. He was also a striker that you could depend on in the bigger games!

Now I always believed that Edouard was going to be Dembele’s longterm replacement. Last season was Odsonne’s trial season and he passed the test. But the fact that Celtic didn’t bring in another forward to compete in the attacking areas is a bit strange.

Leigh Griffiths and Edouard will definitely get you goals but if they are both injured at the same time then The Hoops look a bit threadbare up-top. Yes they have a talented young hitman in Mikey Johnston and maybe Ryan Christie, James Forrest or Scott Sinclair can play as a false nine from time to time but can you rely on them in there for the longterm?

You also have an unhappy camper in Dedryck Boyata.

The central defender had a decent World Cup with Belgium and those performances caught the eye of a few clubs. According to Boyata’s agent, Celtic received and rejected significant bids for his client. That angered Boyata and he seemed to down tools and miss the loss to AEK Athens. That caused certain Celtic fans to turn on the defender.

The whole situation has been mismanaged by the club’s board, in my opinion. As soon as Boyata stated he wanted to leave, then that should have been that. He only has a year left on his contract and after his displays in Russia you’d get a decent price for him.

His manager and fellow players may support him but the faithful will always question him, especially if he makes mistakes at the back.

You then have the momentum that the blue half of the city have been enjoying since they appointed Steven Gerrard as their new manager.

Rangers have, like Celtic, qualified for the group stages of the Europa League. Gerrard has also been backed in the transfer market and brought in a whole new team.

So should Celtic be worried? 

Well on paper the Premiership champions do look weaker. Other Scottish sides like Rangers, Hibs and Hearts look stronger and could make more of a fist of it when it comes to challenging for the league title.

Yet Celtic still have all that winning experience behind them. They know what’s needed to win successive domestic trebles and they still look to have the strongest team. Quite simply I don’t think they are as weak as some wish to believe.

Tomorrow Celtic welcome Rangers to Celtic Park. That game could tell us a lot about Celtic’s character.

The Gers will no doubt want to make an impact in the first derby game of the season. Rodgers and his troops will want to put them back in their place and show that they aren’t on the decline after all.

It should be a cracker!

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