Talking Celtic with Scott Alcroft: The Madness of the Transfer Window
As transfer windows go, the one just gone could be the most important one I’ve ever experienced in my time supporting Celtic. Later on in this article, I’ll do my very best to tell you why.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and, since the window slammed shut, we’ve all had a few days to dechipher what’s just happened. Kieran Tierney going, for me, was an absolute sickener as I genuinely thought the boy would never leave, but now I understand why.
The summer didn’t really start well either as a huge 13 – yes 13 – first team players needed replacing. I seen a stat that our four best defenders last season were Lustig, Benkovic, Boyata and Tierney… when they all leave, you know that there’s going to be teething problems at the back no matter who came in.
Probably an even bigger shock than KT leaving was that we finally got rid of the bold Marvin Compper. The big man never completed 90 minutes in the top side but a part of me feels sorry for him. He probably wasn’t that bad a player, just circumstances stopped him from getting into the side. He’ll go down as one of our worst signings from a financial point of view, though, because if you take into account his transfer fee plus wages, we’re looking at around a four million pound liability.
Izzy was another one that departed us and, although the wee man was excellent in his first spell, he never really looked the same player anymore.
Scott Allan was another strange one who finally left. Was he signed just so that R*ngers wouldn’t sign him? As much as most of us would love to think so, I’m pretty sure that isn’t our signing policy.
Mulumbu going and De Vries retiring meant that we were about to see a pretty big upheaval at Celtic Park and we weren’t finished there: Weah, Toljan, Burke and Benkovic departed as well, back to their respective parent clubs.Listen to the award-winning A Celtic State of Mind podcast
With our strongest back four leaving the club, this window was always going to be a tough one. Again, in hindsight, it looks like we’ve recruited very well. Let’s start with big Christopher Jullien. He looks solid, calm and composed on the ball. He can also ping a long pass too. At £7 million, the big man looks a snip.
Luca Connell was next to come in. I watched his interview when he signed and what a nice young man he is. I watched a bit of his clips on YouTube and the boy has an amazing left foot but definitely one for the development side for now.
Boli Bolingoli was next through the door. Now, the jury was very much out with me with our new left-back until Ibrox at the weekend there. He looked nervous in previous games and with lots of sloppy passes, I just didn’t think he’d ever grow into a Celtic jersey. I thought he looked spooked in games and just didn’t look a player at all. Fast forward to Ibrox and he had a stormer. That’ll do his confidence the world of good now but on deadline day, we signed some serious competition for his place.
The pick of the signings so far for me was signed next. What a replacement for Mika Lustig we’ve found here! Hatem Abd Elhamed has hit the ground running. He’s come in, looked solid and has some real pace about him, too.
Oluwayemi, Hjelde, Burt and Afolabi were next through the door and, although they’ll all probably see some sort of first team action this season, I’m pretty sure it’ll be limited to off-the-bench appearances and probably early round cup games.
Then the one out of nowhere came. Big Fraser Forster! Scott Bain picked up an injury and pretty much in the same circumstances that resulted in Bain arriving at Celtic, ‘The Great Wall’ made his return. If he can get back to the form that he left us in then we really do have a top-class goalkeeper in the big man.
Mo Bauer was next. He was actually a target for us before he went to Stoke and his maw loves us as well so that will do for me. In all seriousness, Lenny took advice from Paul Lambert on Bauer and he did nothing but say good things about the right-back. Again, if Bauer can get back to the form that he was in when he first signed for Stoke then we have a player on our hands with the option to buy.
Mo Elyounoussi was next through the door. Now, I don’t know why there hasn’t been a massive deal of fuss made about this transfer. Ok, it’s a loan but… It’s absolutely HUGE! This guy is a £16 million player coming to Scotland to ply his trade. This guy will run amok in the SPFL, mark my words!
First up was the will he/won’t he sign, saga of the summer – Greg Taylor. Greg finally put pen to paper on a day that Celtic were flinging out four-year deals for fun. The left-back will be more than serious competition for Boli and, with three seasons under his belt with Killie already, don’t be surprised if he’s our number one left-back choice after the international break.
Frimpong and O’Connor were next through the door before the window slammed shut from Man City and Man United respectively. O’Connor is the one who excites me. Man United fans are raging that he’s been allowed to leave as he was most definitely one of their top young prospects. The word on the street is that this boy is special and can play anywhere in defence or midfield. The Irishman is very well thought of so let’s see how that one pans out.
I think this one is the most important transfer window in my time supporting Celtic and I believe we’ve recruited very well. Tierney is obviously a huge loss and I would’ve liked to have seen Benkovic stay too but… What I think we’ve done this window is not only recruit for now but for the future also and we don’t normally do that. That tells me that we not only want that nine-in-a-row but are looking to dominate for years to come.
The defenders look like they’ve finally settled in now, especially after that performance at Ibrox. I’m also looking forward to seeing Taylor and Elyounoussi in action. I think we’ve recruited stongly and we’ll not only go on to win the title but we’ll have a great run in the Europa. We’re drawn in a group that we should be getting out of.
The future is definitely bright. Lenny wasn’t my first choice as manager but he’s definitely proved me wrong and he’s started brilliantly in the League. Regardless of what happens from here on in, Lenny has completely freshened up the squad. I just hope Peter Lawwell is happy when Lenny hands him back his cheque book.