A Massive Throw Of The Dice

Finnbogason-2151029Fred Schwed Jr. was a professional trader who got out of the market after losing a bundle of in the 1929 stock market crash.

He later wrote: “Speculation is an effort, probably unsuccessful, to turn a little money into a lot. Investment is an effort, which should be successful, to prevent a lot of money becoming a little.”

Celtic’s investments over the last few seasons have been successful. The spine of the team has gone for the princely sum of £20m with last season’s Champions League money doubling it to £40m or thereabouts.

In line with Schwed’s train of thought, I see a notable striker as an investment and certainly not as a speculative buy. This should have been done before we even kicked a competitive ball. We knew Hooper was off, along with Wanyama. Kelvin Wilson was a little bit of a surprise, but as speculation arose in the national press regarding his return, Nottingham was on the cards. And lo and behold it happened.

Let’s look firmly at the front line of Celtic.

Anthony Stokes will score you 20 plus a season domestically, but he struggles in Europe. He has a tendency to try and grab the glory, and he lacks insight. He’s clinical at times but can lack a football brain. Then we have Amido Balde, the £1.5m capture from Portuguese outfit Vitoria Guimaraes. For some reason his appearances have been limited. Only Neil Lennon will be able to fill us in on that one. From what I’ve seen thus far, I’ve not been too impressed, but I’m a firm believer in giving players time.

The other two captures have came from Holland with Virgil Van Dijk making his debut in yesterday’s 2-0 victory over Aberdeen. Derk Boerrigter looked impressive on his debut against Ross County, and by Christ should have netted at least one, but again he’s a left winger not a forward.

The Celtic board, in my view, have tied the noose around Lennon’s neck, held a gun at his head and made him walk the plank as we head toward’s Tuesday’s epic tie in Kazakhstan. I’m not overly concerned about the travel bit – it’s a two way street – Shakter Karagandy need to make the same trip for the return at Celtic Park.

But the biggest gamble so far is not bagging a proven goalscorer. It showed against Elfsborg in the last round. I’m guessing if we had Hooper and Wanyama against them we’d have gone through by a more comfortable margin. Worst still, we have no clue how good or bad a side Shakter is. I know more about nuclear physics than I do about this team. I cannot name one of their players. Therein lies the danger.

Previously, at this stage, we played against Arsenal. We knew what was coming. We knew who they were, and the inevitable happened.

Anyone who thinks we’ll stroll this has delusions of grandeur. This isn’t the same Celtic who beat Barcelona and Spartak Moscow.

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We can try to be tactful and respectful to the likes of Stokes, who frankly won’t cut it at Champions League level, but the facts need to be faced. The Celtic board knew what was what with Hooper. They were aware that he and Wanyama were off. They were urged by many to invest in a new striker.

Alfie Finnbogason appeared to be the ideal answer, but they balked at the price. Dig deep, bring him home. £5m is not a lot for a goalscorer nowadays. In fact, it’s buttons. The Icelandic front man has scored an impressive 74 goals in 118 career appearances. Surely this is not speculative, but a wise investment. Celtic would be guaranteed a huge return on their investment.

And please, spare me any nonsense about not understanding finance. Don’t waste my time talking about we need the money because we’re a loss making club. Last season’s second half figures were unbelievable.

They were so unbelievable the club was able to cut season ticket prices by £100. Bear that in mind. The average fan might not be a financial genius, but you make him out to be nothing short of an idiot when you try to convince him that a club that can write off £4 million in season ticket sales is skint.

This striker is quality, and he fits the bill for Celtic’s transfer policy of buying young and selling high. This was proven dramatically in Wanyama’s case.

Yet it looks more than likely that the Icelandic striker is now off Celtic’s radar and will no doubt go elsewhere. But he won’t stray too far from our thinking. If we can get to the Group Stages in a few more years, doubtless he’ll be there.

It appears more likely that they will pursue, and probably capture, Finnish striker Teemu Pukki from Schalke 04. Now having looked at his 29 goals in 109 career appearances I feel slightly let down, especially in light of the Icelandic’s scoring record. and it seems like Lennon is having to settle for second best.

There are some who are determined to spin this as a risk. They’ll talk about Fortune, about Bangura, about how some players don’t make it. Neither of those players had a scoring record like this guy. A player with an average like his, in the Dutch league, is a proven quality. It’s no risk whatsoever …

For the sake of a few millions pounds – and remember that’s what we’re talking about here; no-one is advocating risking the club’s financial future on one player – we’re letting go the finished article to buy someone who’s not done it yet.

And spare us this nonsense that a big name signing on big wages will have other players knocking on Lennon’s door. Let some of them knock. Here’s how it works, in football as in all businesses, for those who’ve forgotten; you are paid according to your ability. If those players were good enough to command the big wages they would be getting them. It’s that simple. All this talk of wage structures is a red herring. If this guy is worth the money then you pay him what he’s worth. If the others rise to the challenge and prove they are worth it then so be it.

There’s hell of lot at stake here. I’m not interested in how Celtic balances the books. It’s evident that they are financially sound. Lennoxtown won’t be getting sold and neither will the car park.

I don’t want a panic buy. Far from it. I want to hear Zadoc the Priest at full blast as the team runs out for Group Stage games.

I want the Man Utds, Real Madrids et al to come to Paradise.

But I fear Mr. Lawell and his cohorts are standing at the roulette wheel, gambling with our emotions. I fear it’s red or black instead of green and white.

It’s like the biscuit tin has returned. Either that or Lennon will receive cash on reaching the Group Stages. Perhaps emotions are intensified by the mixture of the unknown and the fear of failure. I don’t want the Europa League – I want the big boys.

Domestic football, frankly, does not match the upper echelons of the continental game. It’s like comparing McDonald’s to The Ritz. I want to dine at the top table and if I’m robbed of that I will have to content myself with a Parkhead Pie. Slightly less appetizing.

Like Schwed, I agree with the sentiment of investment, and the lack of it, on decent striker, may well cost us a Champions League place.

Artmedia Bratislava were an unknown an look what happened there – possibly the most embarrassing European defeat for Celtic.

The board has left it late. Possibly too late. That’s the gamble here. For people who claim to be unwilling to take risks, this is a big one.

I just when the dice is thrown it lands a double six.

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Gavin McCann

A dipsomaniac funambulist steadying himself on life’s tightrope through the medium of writing. I “suffer” from diphallic terata with mild polyorchidity. Like a dug wi’ two dicks.

10 thoughts on “A Massive Throw Of The Dice

  • 19 August, 2013 at 12:20 am
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    so fucking on the money and how worded like i feel !!

  • 19 August, 2013 at 12:45 am
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    This has been repeated far too often over the last 13 years when we have had the finances available to us to invest some of the surplus cash and still not

    a/ go into debt
    or

    b/ a servicable and manageable debt.

    yet Brian Quinn followed by Lawell have continued to treat us, the folk that make their jobs as financially rewarding as possible treat us like mugs and take us for granted. I would like to see a more miltant approach from our support to take on this clownshoe. Sadly he knows as do I that we generally have a spineless support that will gladly bend over and allow us to be………..yeah you know what I mean.

    As long as the majority of the support continue along with ach its alright we are doing the right thing we will never progress. We will never get stronger and only and only if the Monkees survive and come back up to the top tier will you see them spend money to insure we are top dogs. by then I fear we will become about as relevant to players as other clubs that once played for European glory like Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa.

    The head in the sand is fun to laugh at when its happening over on Edminston Dr. but I feel a lot of us are guilty of the same actions and not really questioning the forward movement or lack of from our clubs leaders. They are content to follow teh financial prudence model and not invest at key times they like to gamble on cheap buy and get it right 10-15% of the time and sell on while hoping we forget the willo Floods Darryl Murphy’s Camaras Banguras Fortunes, Miku’s lassads etc etc etc…
    Always the cheap option and never willing to spend wisely and only when the panic sets in do we see big names come to the club i.e Robbie and Roy Tommy G and f Freddie Ljunberg and between the 4 of them it was hardly a stellar contribution of silverware with them in the team.

    its time for this board to get their thumbs out and do something significant or time for the support to get more than vocal and let Lawell know how displeased we are with out wallets opening elsewhere and everywhere but Celtic Park.

  • 19 August, 2013 at 5:27 am
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    What a waste of effort. How can any spend any time trying to construct an argument against the board, our chief executive and our manager and scouting staff.

    Celtic have delivered big style and when looking across the city you can see where pandering to this local minority can get you. The value of a player and the type of stats that you trot out are no test to their ability and how they might fit with the Celtic team.

    It may not be the £5 million price tag that is the issue but the players wages and their fit with the rest of staff. This is a team game and the manager needs to consider how the dressing room will react to someone that may break the wage structure.

    I also consider that I would rather trust the scouting and coaching staff who have uncovered the players we need rather than be driven by the Daily Record that has no interest in our success.

    The spine of the team issue does not stand up to any scrutiny. In the important European games last season Gary Hooper watched from the bench. This year as last our campaign will have Samaras leading the attack. We have 2 new signings at centre back, one of which meets your criteria of successful performance in the dutch league.

    There is no gamble, we have a great chance of qualifying for the group stages. The board and chief executive have delivered and will continue to deliver. The reduction in season tickets is more about those supporters that have abandoned the club than the directors strategy failing.

    Instead of criticising the team why not try a bit of support.

  • 19 August, 2013 at 9:11 am
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    Celtics transfer policy over last 2 years has been spot on & I struggle to understand the negativity, if they have another season of profit like last year then maybe we will see them Gamble ( all transfers are gambles previous record means very little) with £5m on 1 player, as fans we don’t even know if this £5m player wants to player in our league or he may only want to join if we are in Champs group stages. Celtic have just started with this approach of buying young-sell for profit- re-invest in Club, we need to stick with this approach & trust the people that are in charge to do the job they are paid to do.
    Slippers just because many people don’t agree with you doesn’t make them spineless..

  • 19 August, 2013 at 9:13 am
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    I feel frustrated by the lack of new signings also but dont agree with you on parts of what you say. If we dont qualify for the group stages in europe we will quite simply make a loss. Spending 5m on players does not guarantee success, Rafael Scheidt, Eyal Berkovic to name just 2 and both were on massive wages. Celtic at present with the state of Scottish football cant afford to these mistakes to be made again. Season ticket prices imo were reduced to try and encourage everyone to renew and for others to take them up, as attendances are quite obviously down. 1st Rangers went down a reckless spending path and no longer exist, we wont do the same.

  • 19 August, 2013 at 9:46 am
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    No-one is asking Celtic to burst the bank here. £5m for a guy who by the looks of it knows where the net is. We will not go into Administration over one signing.

    If we want to have credibility on the big stage we need to have a decent squad.

  • 19 August, 2013 at 11:31 am
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    do we want to go into this with no strikers ? we need one asap

  • 19 August, 2013 at 12:16 pm
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    Its not about 1 player. Its about improving our squad. Too many are looking on utube and considering themselves a chief scout others claim Russel was the answer.
    How about supporting the club having faith in our management to continue providing players of quality who want to live and play in Scotland , at least for a year or two

  • 19 August, 2013 at 12:22 pm
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    We’ve made at least £40m in the last Season/Year – Lennon and his scouting staff should get at least 25% of that.

    I’ve supported Celtic for 30+ years and will always back them. It’s not to say anyone is immune to criticism.

    The most salient point is that we need a striker. Finnbogasson’s record speaks for itself. Buying him would not break the bank and certainly won’t put Celtic into Administration. If you’re happy with what we have fine. I’m not.

    I think we’ll reach the Group Stages but we need to improve the squad. Balde as I said has been bought and remains unproven. He’s had very little game time too.

    As I said – I think we’re gambling.

  • 20 August, 2013 at 9:23 am
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    It is a tough one because I don’t believe for one second that NL would be complacent as it clearly just is not in his nature. He wants the very best for Celtic, wants it (dare I say) more than you or I. We have some of the finest scouting networks around, it would seem, and the concept of buying developing talent to make profit works better when the whole world doesn’t know you are doing it – let slip that Celtic are looking at someone, other managers probably take another look at the player. Other teams also don’t want to let their better players or potentially great ones leave because they fancy making the big profit too – obvious but overlooked.

    That all being said, there are questions surrounding why we have got this far on from the sales of Hooper and Big Vic and not secured at least one quality striker. NL has stated his desire for two more and the media has whipped up a cloud of shit around it, each of them desperate for the scoop. Still, we face the unknown Khazaks today and if Celtic tumble out the CL because of missed chances in front of goal, there should be an uproar from the fans.

    I have been sold on the transfer policy, it is a good one, satisfying and one that ensures we never follow follow Rangers to their death. However, we need to be able to do more than that if we need to. We need to move forwards, progress, not bring in undeveloped talent, rise well, sell them than fall back again until the next crop develops. Move forwards or die. If we need to spend big money on a quality player, take a gamble, in order to maintain and improve year on year success, then damn well do it. Every few years or so we can do this, can’t we?

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