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‘An opportunity missed’ ‘Was Brendan backed?’ ‘That’s a real disappointment’ Former Celt calls out the failed strategy

Alan Stubbs has delivered a detailed criticism of Celtic’s ‘rainy day’ policy that sees the club’s bank account soar while the team consistently fails to make any impact in European football.

No Celtic fans is demanding signings in the £15m range with wages of £50,000 a week but there is plenty of scope to recruit in away from the apparent model of spending £2-3m on young players and hoping that one in four can make an impact.

During the summer Celtic signed seven players on permanent deals but only two made it into the Starting XI that lost to Feyenoord on Tuesday night. It is fair to say that Gus Lagerbielke and Luis Palma were well short of the level required.

It was the Swede’s fourth start for Celtic while Palma made his debut. None of the substitutes used had played before in the Champions League.

A year ago Ange Postecoglou had Josip Juranovic, Liel Abada, Jota and Giorgos Giakoumakis in his squad that tested Real Madrid for an hour then crashed to a 3-0 defeat. Afterwards there was barely a word of criticism with most fans looking forward to the remaining Champions League matches to see how their side was developing.

There is no doubt that Tuesday’s squad was much weaker, despite the club celebrating record breaking turnover and profit the day before the match in Rotterdam.

Finance seems to be totally divorced from football, with two home matches coming up in the Champions League the focus on finance is about to come under greater scrutiny than ever with little to be optimistic about.

The Daily Record reports Stubbs saying:

Celtic are not as strong as they were last year going into the Champions League groups. That’s a real disappointment when you consider the financial results that came out before the game. They’ve £70m+ reserves in the bank. The financial results tell you the club is in a really healthy position.

I thought it was odd for them to say that it’s there just in case they don’t qualify for future Champions League campaigns. To say that, for whatever reason, we might finish second one year doesn’t really send a positive message. I thought Celtic needed two marquee signings, especially for the Champions League.

They’ve not been forthcoming. This is a trick missed from Celtic. They’ve got the marquee manager back. The valid questions are: Was Brendan backed in the transfer window in terms of players he wants to bring to the club? How much money was available?

There’s no doubt Celtic are ahead of Rangers now in terms of strength of squad. That, I believe, will be reflected come the end of the season. A few weeks ago, I said Celtic will win the league by 12 points and nothing has changed my mind since.

Celtic were there for the taking – more so than I can remember for a while in an Old Firm game, in terms of the team Brendan was putting out there. And Rangers weren’t able to beat them. So, there’s a lot more questions over the Rangers than Celtic. But this is the time where Celtic should be putting the foot on the pedal and driving it home, staying way ahead of Rangers. And building a squad where they can become really competitive in the Champions League.

With projects, you’re willing to give them more time. But qualifying from a Champions League group is not something you can wait for to come to you somewhere along the line. It’s an instant demand. You can’t go into the campaign undercooked and hoping that projects just in the door will get you through.

The Celtic faithful will be wondering why they didn’t spend more in the summer.

This will be an opportunity missed if Celtic don’t progress from this group. On the European stage, the fans want to see progression. With that, you have to be a bit more ambitious to bring in the better calibre of player to give yourself a real fighting chance. Brendan is not going to come out and criticise anyone. He’ll say he’s happy with his squad and they’re on the same page.

In July 1996 Celtic paid Bolton £4m for Stubbs, almost 30 years later only one of Rodgers’ summer signings cost more than that fee.

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