The transfer windows brought an end to football clubs strengthening whenever it suited. Despite some opposition to it, the windows have remained in place for over fifteen years.
When the market is open there is limited time to do business, but there also are some exceptions. Some rules, allow players without a club to join a club between windows or emergency situations such as when a club has a goalkeeping crisis.
With January being the half way point for many European leagues it can be a crucial time to bed in players for the following season or assist you in your final assault of the current campaign. Here we look at some of Celtic’s January acquisitions since the transfer window was implemented in season 2002/2003.
Martin O’Neill was the first Celtic manager to utilise the transfer windows imposed by FIFA. In January 2003 he had a goalkeeping problem with the unreliable availability of Rab Douglas and Magnus Hedman.
With a UEFA Cup campaign in full swing he drafted in Javier Sanchez Broto on loan until the end of the season from Livingston. The Spaniard provided much needed and very able backup, starting nine matches, but he returned to his homeland after both parties failed to agree terms.
In the same window Stanislav Varga came in on a free transfer from Sunderland. O’Neill was fond of imposing, goal scoring centre halves.
In the Slovakian international Varga he got just that. We wouldn’t see the best of that until the following seasons.
Stephen Pearson was an up-and-coming prospect at Motherwell and Martin O’Neill wanted him on board. £350K was shelled out for the midfielder and had decent potential, but his career was always blighted by injury and inconsistent form with very few moments to marvel at.
O’Neill also brought in goalkeeper Dejan Milosevic from Perth Glory. He never played for the club and soon found himself back in Australia within a year.
With the departure of Henrik Larsson in the summer of 2004, Celtic were going to find it hard to fill the Swede’s boots sufficiently. Martin O’Neill brought in Henri Camara on loan from Wolves only to have his year long loan terminated in January 2005.
Back to square one, O’Neill now had to find another replacement. Fortunately, Craig Bellamy was having a torrid time at Newcastle and Celtic took the player on loan until the end of the season.
He was an instant hit and it looked as though we’d found a suitable long term replacement for Henrik. The romance would not continue beyond that season though despite both parties recognising how good they were for each other.
Stephane Henchoz also came in during that window as defensive cover. He was a relatively risk free, free transfer, but Celtic did not renew their interest in Henchoz either, particularly with O’Neill departing in the summer.
In the summer of 2005 Gordon Strachan replaced Martin O’Neill and presided over one of the largest clear outs at Celtic Park. Around ten first team players left that summer followed by a further four in January 2006.
Strachan had recruited a similar amount though on less wages. In January of that first season in charge, he recruited Mark Wilson for £500K from Dundee United.
Despite an injury laced beginning, he would find more regular game time the seasons ahead. He was an able right back who wore the jersey with a lot of pride.
Wilson’s arrival was overshadowed by the arrival of Dion Dublin and Roy Keane who had both arrived on free transfers. Both players were in the advent of their careers, but Strachan needed dressing room individuals in his side with so many influential players from the Martin O’Neill era having left.
Personally, I didn’t really think Keane was a necessary move for Celtic. The league was looking good for us without his services, but it was all too tempting for Dermot Desmond to have him at Celtic.
Neither Dublin or Keane would remain at the club beyond the end of that season. It was a brief encounter which I’m sure Celtic benefited from financially, if nothing else.
Toward the end of 2006, Hearts’ then owner, Vladimir Romanov, had a player revolt on his hands. A few players, dubbed the Riccarton Three, took a press conference and confirmed the unrest in the dressing room.
It was effectively the end of those players’ careers at Tynecastle with Celtic benefiting of from the services of two of them. Paul Hartley joined for just over £1M and Steven Pressley had his contract terminated as ring leader and came on free transfer.
Both players were a key part of the Tynecastle crew and would now bring that experience to Celtic. They would also be joined by Jean-Joel Perrier-Doumbe on loan and Mark Brown on a free transfer.
All of these signings were necessary for Strachan as he off loaded the remainder of Martin O’Neill’s highly paid stars. The Scotsman was creating a team of his own now.
Andreas Hinkel, Barry Robson, Ben Hutchison, Georgios Samaras and Koki Mizuno joined the growing ranks at Celtic. We know the winners and losers from that bunch, but this was a busy January for Celtic.
In season 2008/2009, there was a dip in Celtic’s transfer dealings and was beginning to show within the team performances as well. Having won three titles on the bounce, Strachan had spent the last of the big cash in the summer.
Come January he was only able to recruit Milan Misun, Willo Flood, Niall McGinn and Dominic Cervi. The quality of previous January windows wasn’t quite there and the writing was on the wall for Gordon Strachan.
With a new manager the helm, another season of huge comings and goings was under way. New manager Tony Mowbray was offloading a lot of players from the Strachan era.
This took place in the summer and winter transfer windows. However, it was perhaps the winter window that was the most active.
There was a mass exodus of players on loan and permanent deals particulary south of the border to Middlesborough. Mowbray was losing credibility among the support and fresh blood was needed.
He brought in Ki Sung- yueng, Jos Hooiveld, Morten Rasmussen, Thomas Rogne, Diomansy Kamara, Edson Braafheid and Paul Slane. There was also the significant signature of Robbie Keane on loan who would be the second Keane of Republican fame to sell shirts and put bums on seats for Celtic in the space of four years.
It was a deeply troubling time for Celtic whose investment in Mowbray was not bearing fruit. This window was a last roll of the dice, but within two months of the window closing, Mowbray was sacked.
With the departure of Mowbray in March 2010, Celtic coach Neil Lennon took over on a temporary basis. By the end of that season, he was the only permanent choice for the job.
He recruited heavily in that summer as well as selling off a number of players to fund those moves. By the time January arrived he would only add two players to his squad.
Kris Commons and Freddie Ljungberg joined the ranks as Lennon tried to mount a challenge on Rangers. Commons was an instant hit, but Ljungberg failed to make a significant impact.
Prior to that, Lennon had procured the services of Olivier Kapo between both windows as he was without a club and even played a couple of games. However, he was gone by the time the window opened in January due to a contact dispute.
After a relatively busy summer window, Lennon added four more players to his ranks in January 2012. Andre Blackman arrivsd prior to the window opening as he was without a club.
When the window did open Lennon added striker Pawel Brozek on loan, Ibrahim Rabiu as a young prospect and Mikael Lustig as an experienced international defender. It was far from a memorable window, but there was a shift in power in Scottish football and Lennon’s team was beginning to take shape.
The summer window of 2012 was not as frivolous as previous summer windows for Neil Lennon. The winter window would not be much different either.
Despite winning the league the previous season and now qualifying for the last sixteen of the Champions League, only three players came on board in January. Rami Gershon and Viktor Noring arrived on loan whilst an unknown Australian talent in the form of Tom Rogic joined for less than £500K.
In the summer of 2013 Lennon had brought on board half a dozen new recruits. Come January he would bring in three more signings.
Leigh Griffiths and Stefan Johansen would both make an immediate impact whilst youngster Holmbert Fridjonsson would never feature in the first team. This would be Lennon’s final transfer window before leaving the club in the summer.
After taking over in 2014, Ronny Deila began a new era for Celtic. Not just on the park, but in areas such as diet and training as well.
It was going against the grain at Celtic, but a necessary step to meet modern football standards. To help make that happen, seven players were brought in, mainly on loan, whilst almost double that amount went out on loan or permanently.
Come January, Deila drafted in Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven from Dundee United. Mackay-Steven had the better start, but eventually Armstrong would become a star for the club, albeit briefly under different management.
It was a busy summer for Celtic in 2015 as many players came and went. That trend continued with the acquisition of Carlton Cole in October 2015 who was without a club.
Come January, the club fattened up the ranks further with Erik Sviatchenko, Colin Kazim-Richards and Patrick Roberts. Neither Cole nor Kazim-Richards were worthy of the Hoops jersey, but they did find the net at least once in the limited game time they had.
Sviatchenko and Roberts were instant hits in the team and with the fans. Sadly, neither player are part of the current side despite their popularity.
In the summer of 2016, Ronny Deila parted company with the club. After losing a penalty shoot out to Championship club, Rangers, the writing was on the wall for the likeable Norwegian coach.
Celtic appointed Brendan Rodgers who set about assessing the rather large squad he had inherited from the Lennon and Deila eras. He continued with the fitness regime Deila had try to implement but without the resistance his predecessor had received from the dressing room.
Half a dozen players joines that summer with a similar number departing. By the the time January had come Rodgers still had a large squad that was doing well.
So he recruited just one player in the shape of Eboue Kouassi. The Ivorian has never seen a run in the team, but this window was probably more active with Celtic players going out on loan.
After a record breaking debut season, Rodgers began offloading some of the squad who were surplus to requirements. In turn, he freshened up the ranks with a few new faces.
As January approached, the revolving door was in operation with more players going out on loan. Rodgers also recruited Charly Musonda on loan from Chelsea, Jack Hendry and Marvin Compper came in to bolster the defence, Lewis Morgan arrived as a prospect from St Mirren and Scott Bain arrived on loan to help out in the summer goalkeeping department.
Despite this being amount of business for Rodgers, the return was less than expected. Musonda, despite providing an assist in a crucial win over Zenit St Petersburg, would find himself with limited appearances and his loan cancelled by the summer.
To date, Hendry has yet to hit the ground running at the club, Compper has played one forgettable game, Morgan was loaned back to St Mirren for six months and yet to be given a proper chance this season and Bain plays second fiddle to Craig Gordon.
And that brings us to January 2019 and the current season. The once inflated ranks of the Lennon and Deila era had been reduced significantly by last summer.
Half a dozen players were acquired in the summer with around the same heading out, but it was a far from satisfactory window for Celtic. With injuries, form and other omissions on the horizon, January 2019 was always going to be one of the most important for Brendan Rodgers.
Defence has been on the minds of most if not all of us for a while now, but it seems to be the opposite for the manager. He stated to the press that he didn’t believe he would strengthen central defence until the summer by which time of course we’ll be without Deryck Boyata and Filip Benkovic.
He hasn’t said as much with regards to the full back position and with Mikael Lustig, Cristian Gamboa and Emilio Izaguirre also gone in the summer we have a similar problem in that area. Given how slowly Celtic move in the transfer market and how early our competitive season begins thess days, doesn’t fill fans with confidence.
Celtic have enforced attacking options which to be fair has been underhanded all season. Odsonne Edouard has shouldered the responsibility thanks to the eleventh hour departure of Moussa Dembele in the summer and subsequent injuries and short term absence of Leigh Griffiths.
Brendan has also stated that business has not ceased for the club in this window yet, but for which positions is anyone’s guess. We’ve all read the rumours though we are none the wiser.
There are just under two weeks left of this window and we welcome Timothy Weah and Oliver Burke on loan whilst Vakoun Bayo joins on a permanent deal. Let’s see what else the club can do before the end of the month.