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Where did it go wrong for Shaw and Urhoghide at Celtic?

In many situations the phrase misfit is a derogatory term, especially in football.

The game is full of misfits but in the case of Liam Shaw and Osaze Urhoghide it is perfectly apt, virtually nothing in football terms was right about their 2021 moves from Sheffield Wednesday to Celtic. Both players found themselves at the wrong club at the wring time, it happens.

Agents could be partly blamed but with four year contracts on offer on very attractive terms the agents for the two players did exactly what they are employed to do.

With their contracts running down Sheffield Wednesday were in turmoil, playing behind closed doors they were doomed to relegation from the Championship with a depleted playing squad and a 12 point deduction for breaking Financial Fair Play rules.

Offered four year contracts by a club that had won the title nine times in the previous 10 seasons and facing a rebuild with a fair wind either player might have hit it off. Their situation was no worse than that of Tony Ralston who was handed a 12-month ‘Just in case contract’, he took his chance, it never worked out for Shaw or Urhoghide.

Ange Postecoglou took a very unusual squad to Wales for a pre-season training camp, Owen Moffat was the unlikely star, Karamoko Dembele suffered a serious knee injury just when he might have been given his big chance at Celtic.

Early on in his reign the new manager took to Ralston at right-back, ahead of Urhoghide and Lee O’Connor. In midfield Shaw found Callum McGregor, David Turnbull, Nir Bitton, Tom Rogic and Ismaila Soro ahead in the queue, soon to be joined by James McCarthy.

Despite being stretched for resources neither of the signings from Sheffield Wednesday featured in the early competitive matches.

Away to Real Betis in the heat of Seville in September Postecoglou was only able to name nine substitutes while the hosts selected from 12 subs. McCarthy replaced Soro (on a booking) but despite the conditions no other subs were thrown into the match.

The return match against Betis, a dead rubber, saw both players start their only Celtic match, a few weeks later Shaw was a late substitute away to St Mirren and that was that.

In January Shaw went on loan to Motherwell, Urhoghide to Oostende who took him back again last season while Shaw went on loan to Morecambe.

This time Shaw has gone on loan to Wigan while Urhoghide has made the permanent move to Amiens in the French Second Division.

Apart from Jeremie Frimpong and Kris Ajer things haven’t worked out for any of the young prospects recruited in the last decade. Piled up alongside them are Luca Connel, Holmbert Fridjonsson, Jonathan Afolabi, O’Connor and others.

At the same time not much has emerged through from the Celtic Academy since Kieran Tierney’s breakthrough in 2015.

With the first team squad expanding towards 25 or more players the prospects of younger players breaking through becomes more remote although the offer of a Celtic contract is a difficult one to resist.

As Neil Lennon’s last signing Shaw will be the answer to a quiz question while Urhoghide was the first under Postecoglou. Whatever else their career throws up they’ll be able to call themselves Celtic players, with one starting appearance in a European tie against Spanish opponents.

Two years ago they were the focus of interest on Celtic TV, times change quickly in football with targets at Wigan and Amiens now the goals.

Meanwhile Celtic have moved on with two slightly more experienced Korean prospects now signed up, hoping that they can follow in the footsteps of Cha Du-Ri and Ki Sung Yeung with a significant place in Celtic history.

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