Hindered by a cycling injury, I’ve struggled to type for the past few weeks. I did manage to fire off a piece on Celtic’s historical January transfer dealings which I’d been putting together before I ate the tarmac, but now we’re back in the throws of domestic football again and I’m on the mend.
So where to start? Well the transfer window is open for a few more days and it looks as though we’ll be adding one more player before it closes.
Brendan has stated that he is happy with his current squad despite this latest “target.” Maryan Shved is the expected final piece of transfer activity though not earmarked as an immediate squad member.
The manager’s comments to the media about not needing another winger had caused Celtic fans and the media to speculate further on Brendan Rodgers’ role. Whichever circumstances have brought the Ukrainian winger to Celtic’s attention, Brendan doesn’t appear to see the player as an immediate priority.
His comments could’ve been taken out of context, but it left many of us wondering about two things. How much control Brendan has over transfers and are there still relationship issues behind the scenes?
Shved doesn’t look like a bad player on paper, but as the manager said, he’s not short of wingers. So why bring a player for a position when it isn’t a priority?
He appears to have been offered to the club and the “club” appear interested. Brendan didn’t share the same enthusiasm whilst briefly admitting that come the summer the landscape may have changed.
So are deals being done without his approval? There have already been one or two deals that had us in that frame of mind previously.
We all hoped for a defender or two but it’s clear that will not be addressed until the summer. Andrew Gutman coming in on trial has been the only activity in that area.
Even then, no deal has been done as yet. This kind of delay added to this season’s speculation that Brendan might be for the off.
I do think they’re are issues behind the scenes because Brendan has been pretty vocal for the past 12 months. Personally, I don’t think he’s for walking away despite his frustrations.
Only a substantial offer elsewhere would tempt him. That would test the board’s resolve and how much they actually value their head coach.
However, we’re not there at the moment. It still raises the same unanswered questions over player transfers though.
Right now we’re back playing football again and with some fresh blood. Vakoun Bayo has just had his permit clearance verified though still to play and we’re all keen to see him in action.
Meantime, Oliver Burke and Timo Weah have been stealing the headlines. Both players have opened their accounts with two goals in their opening two games.
Another player making an impact lately is Scott Sinclair. He’s never repeated his first season form, regardless of what the stats say, but he’s been looking very much like his old self.
In the three games played in January so far, he has shown the kind of hunger not seen since his debut season. That negative body language appears to have been shrugged off and for good we hope.
Denied a legitimate hatrick against Airdrie, he was electric against St Mirren four days later and made it three goals in two games. He made it four goals in three games after the victory over Hamilton when he converted a penalty.
Celtic’s final match of January is at home to St Johnstone on Wednesday. A win would be a perfect start to the year for Brendan Rodgers.
It’s been a fairly easy going restart, but Tommy Wright’s side will provide a tougher test. The Saints tend to raise their game against Celtic and they’ll have not one, but two chances do so in the space of five days.
The first match is of course Celtic’s long awaited game at hand. Victory would put the Hoops six points clear at the top with all teams having played 23 matches.
This could be the chance for Celtic to pull away after a tough slog. The signs are positive despite a few current personnel setbacks.
Absences of varying kinds mean we are without Dedryck Boyata, Kieran Tierney, Leigh Griffiths, Tom Rogic, Odsonne Edouard and Tony Ralston. The team will battle on though and our additional attacking players will help Celtic on the front foot as we look for another treble.
Whilst we’ve all been harping on about our unsettled and soon-to-be out-of-contract defence, it’s easy to miss to that in attack we’ve been very lightweight this season. Lack of attacking options has put pressure on our defence, midfield and the players that have had to shoulder the responsibility.
We all question the effectiveness of our defence at times, but we’ve not exactly been doing it well enough in the final third either. Hopefully, with Weah, Burke and Bayo weighing in, the pressure will be off everyone.
Burke and Weah already look like good loans. If they keep up their form we may even see them beyond the summer.
Celtic now have the firepower they’ve lacked for some time now. It could make a significant difference as we march towards May.