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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