A Conflict of Interests?

Celtic have a bad record when it comes to former players coming back to play against them. They generally come in the form of strikers as well.

After poor form and injury Bangura went on loan to his old club AIK last summer. He is now on a loan spell with Celtic’s opponent’s tomorrow night, Elfsborg.

It is understandable why Mo Bangura playing tomorrow night, whilst he is still a Celtic player, would be an issue for the Neil Lennon. On a professional level it seems unprofessional but for me it’s more of the jinx issue that is of concern.

I’m sure there are quite a few people thinking “what if?” It’s for that reason alone that there is concern.

The likelihood of Bangura playing against Celtic would have been so slim that you wouldn’t have though about putting a clause in his loan deal. Though it does make you wonder if it should be a mandatory clause.

Elfsborg have been making sounds that they will play Bangura and probably will. On this side of the North Sea, there has been friendly advice from Celtic that this is unwise particularly where his Celtic career lies.

The Swedish club are perfectly within their rights to play him. You can also see why they would want to play him.

However, if Bangura were to say miss a penalty against Celtic or even score an own goal, there would be more than a few eyebrows raised. I’m not suggesting that this is some sinister plan of course but you can imagine how this might go down with the media and even UEFA nevermind  getting the conspiracy theory badge.

With Bangura likely to face Celtic tomorrow night, as well as the second leg, there is no doubt that these fixtures now have a little bit more of an edge them. It’s not the kind of edge I particularly like though.

European matches are edgy enough as it is without one of your own players playing against you. If I was Lennon I would be fuming but perhaps this situation is something that the club will need to put down to experience.

It’s different when a player leaves a club permanently and comes back as an opponent. That is something out with your control.

It just doesnt’ feel right and that some lines are being crossed. If I were the man that agreed the terms of that loan, I would be thinking “I won’t make that mistake again.”

All we can hope for is for Celtic to go out and smash Elfsborg and put the fixture to bed. As for Bangura, he may never play for Celtic again.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie

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A new chapter.

With two of Celtic’s best players having now departed the club, it is time to move on. Like many Celtic players before them, Gary and Victor have been subject to transfer speculation for some time.

Things will settle down now and the team will be able to focus without the uncertainty around their team mates. Furthermore, there are positives to be be taken from these departures.

Firstly, Celtic have done some sound business. They’ve stood firm on the valuation of each player and when met, granted them freedom to talk.

There is a substantial profit in both of these transfers. That money can be used in a number of ways as well.

Any profit made will be used to improve the clubs circumstances on and off the field. Not all of it will be used on transfers as some usually expect though.

Many have argued in the past that Celtic have not spent the money earned. Some still seem oblivious to how a club is run but hopefully the penny has dropped on that one.

Geting back to the positives though, credit is due to our scouting team. Having sourced such talent in the first place only goes to show what can be unearthed at good prices.

Hooper and Wanyama were not ready made stars but Celtic helped to make them the players they are, as did their previous clubs. These day, this is Celtic’s market.

If you can bring players with potential to the club and make something out of them you have the chance to retain or sell on as a profit. It is therefore encouraging to see some of that crop staying put.

Ledley is very much an unsung hero at times and I am glad he is still here. Samaras is a bit of a cult hero these days and lets face it he loves it at Celtic.

Broony is an important player, though some tend to disagree at times. I remain a fan of his.

With any luck, Kayal will retake his midfield role with both hands. We may even see Rogic establish himself as a regular.

Add to that the influential Common’s, a rejuvinated Stokes and you have a healthy attack. And that is with an ever improving Forrest on the wing.

At the back we seem to be mostly covered. Aside from transfer speculation about Wilson and Foster, there is a decent basis for an adaptable defence.

Efe, Wilson, Izzy, Mulgrew, Matthews and Lustig have all turned in a fine season for the club. They’ve adapted and progressed to meet the demand of every fixture.

The Celtic squad remains on good foundations. We may have parted with two good players, but I look forward to seeing this squad that Lennon has assembled, progress to the next level.

New additions and emerging youth like Watt, Amido, Virgil, Mouyokolo, Rogic, McGeouch should be looking to stake a claim this season. These guys furnish the first team squad with further options.

We may see one or two more join as our road to the Champions League develops. With any luck these guys will be playing on that stage come September.

Good luck to Gary and Victor. You have both been great servants.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie

Below Par BBC

Wednesday nights UK coverage of Cliftonville v Celtic was disappointing. Broadcast availability and quality was a disappointing experience.

In an age where technology is so advanced you would think it was easy to catch a UK football match anywhere in the UK. I mean lets be honest here, there are no shortage of options for the BBC but is the BBC Sport website the best you can do nationwide?

I don’t have an issue (or an option) in paying my license fee. When the service the BBC provide is substandard, I do.

This is a regional network of course and has been for years. Getting hold of those regional broadcasts seems to be a big ask at times.

With iPlayer and BBC red button at our disposal you would think decent coverage and quality was at your fingertips? Well, nae luck.

BBC2 Scotland/Northern Ireland had the match live and as far as I know only Sky has the regional BBC2 channels. If you live in a UK region other than these two and don’t have Sky, you couldn’t tune in.

I have always been of the opinion that all television ‘national’ coverage is based upon London’s view of the entire UK. What I mean by this is that there is always a slant toward the south east mindset.

English politicians are always so keen to point out that we are “one nation”. Well, not if you live elsewhere in the UK.

When BBC and ITV are broadcasting England matches and those of their clubs, its a different story. I don’t ever recall having any problem tuning into these games when I lived in the homeland.

“Move back” I hear you say! Well, considering this was essentially a ‘Battle of Britain’ tie on the European scene, a little more respect could have been shown to make this available across the network.

Scotland and Northern Ireland may not have the same money to float a league such as the English ones. But lets not forget that the UK has Scots, Irish and Welsh living all over these isles.

Is it too much to ask for a match such as this to be on BBC2 nationwide? I’m sure it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but neither is an England v San Marino friendly shown in the Orkney.

The BBC website is an awful platform to be subjected to at home. It may be good on the move but watching some stuttering and pixelated coverage online at home is abysmal.

There’s a better chance of Alex Salmond saying something sensible than the BBC listening to viewers. What is the point of all these channels on digital if you cannot stump up one match for a few hours so we can all see it?

During the Olympic coverage in 2012, which I must say was fantastic, BBC had a full range of events being covered daily via the red button. One match for one evening should not be a huge ask.

I will, as always, continue to pay my license fee but I’d like to see the BBC do something with it that people want. Or perhaps I should blame Jimmy Saville for this and move on.

As ever….Hail! Hail!

Stevie

Still feeling gloomy?

Last nights victory over Cliftonville was exactly what Celtic needed. Nothing fancy, nothing cocky – just a simple win to take back to Paradise.

It was great to hear the fans having a ball as well. They were in good voice and had good weather to furnish the occasion with.

Of course, this will not deter the doom mongerers You know they’ll still be waiting to criticise any lack of signings, too many friendlies blah, blah, blah.

You would expect there to be some rustiness in the team but I thought on the whole Celtic were pretty comfortable. I don’t take anything away from Cliftonville though and they desrve some credit for their efforts.

With a home tie next and three goals to the good, Lennon will be thinking ahead. Hooper’s departure, any further exits or loans and possible replacents on his list.

Like previous campaigns, it is likely that business dealings will be on a progress by progress scenario. We cannot spend for competitions we may not make it to.

If Hooper does go we may have a “player in the making”, much like he like he is/was himself, on our shortlist. Should we make the Champions League, we may even see another Miku type deal.

Saviola’s name has been banded around (again). Whether we require a player of this sort is a debating point.

A balanced team with flexible players i.e. players that fill other positions in the team at short notice, can serve you just as well if not better. Fringe players such as Miku probably only had one good match but is that worth it?

Its up to Lennon how he shapes his team. We can only observe and make our own judgements.

For now, I’m looking forward to next weeks match. Being at home, it would be good to stroll through that game and add some more goals.

Lennon won’t want to work the players too hard at this stage. As the weeks role by, we’ll get some of the squad back from injury, fitness throughout will improve and we might see some new personnel.

I say to those supporters spouting negative vibes: open those curtains and let some light into your world. It’s a new season don’t you know?

Hail! Hail!

Stevie

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Just as Celtic bring the curtain down on their pre-season tour, they look ahead to their first competitive match since the Scottish Cup Final. The results in Germany sparked negative reactions amongst fans but it is the competitive games that matter.

Lets face it, played four, lost four doesn’t look good or feel good at any time. Can we really read onto this kind form though?

No because these are about fitness and preparation, not winning 11-0. We’ve had poor pre-seasons on countless occasions but they’ve only ever hurt us when we’ve ended up stateside or down under.

The real stuff begins on Wednesday against Cliftonville. That’s where Celtic’s season truly begins.

These qualifying rounds for the Champions League dominate the pre-season. They come too early so these other matches serve only as build up and preparation for what lies ahead.

The current topics are filling the roles of Wanyama and perhaps Hooper. Wanyama’s departure gives the club a healthy profit and if Hooper goes as well that will increase further.

Kayal is the automatic replacement in midfield, a role that was his before Victor stepped in. Lennon may look at other options within the squad so with or without the purchase of a new player we’re not going to suffer.

The situation with Hooper is somewhat different. His goal tally has been great for the club since he joined.

Though we are not short of strikers or goal scorers either you do want your 20 goals a season hit man. Tony Watt is too young and inexperienced whilst guys like Stokes and Samaras do their best work outside of the box.

New signing Amido Balde is doubtful to be given the responsibility. His role may even lie somewhere behind the frontline.

Lennon has made noises about Hooper’s on/off transfer as recent as yesterday when he suggested he may have played his last game for Celtic. If a transfer does go ahead soon we are certain to have a few players on the shortlist.

The main focus for now is Wednesday and starting the campaign with a win. These are the matches where results matter.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie

Transfer Tic Talk

Gary Hooper and Victor Wanyama are two of Celtic’s players currently making transfer headlines. The disappointing aspect about these stories are the teams linked to obtaining their services.

We Celtic supporters are used to headlines linking our players to the Premier League in England and beyond. To be honest there are more players linked to moves than those who actually go.

In the case of Hooper and Wanyama it is almost certain that both players will move. Talk of Hooper has cooled a little but Wanyama is the top of the list.

Scotland always gets heavy criticism, normally by English pundits and supporters, about the quality of the league. But is obtaining a player from a “poor league” and moving to a duff team like Hull or Southampton a smart move?

If you’re looking for a payrise sure you’ll do alright but for what? A bottom-half-of-the league club where they will win zero trophies?

There is too much money going on in England. It’s fair to say that clubs in Scotland will profit from sales to England but its only really Celtic who make decent profit these days.

Celtic won’t let players go beyond below there own valuation. Though when you look at Wanyama’s situation he and his agents are holding these clubs to ransom which is his negotiating right.

I knew that Victor would never see beyond next season but I didn’t expect him to move this summer. Hooper I fully expected to go, but his future is uncertain right now.

I’d be happy to see Hooper stay for a bit longer, but if he did go firmly believe there is another striker on Celtic’s hit list. For Wanyama you are looking at a harder find for a direct replacement but Celtic’s scouting and transfer exploits produce the goods.

As long as we hold that part of the club together we’ll maintain a steady flow of incoming talent and at good prices. We’ve had a good innings from Gary and Victor so I look forward to a new wave of talent.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie