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The two reasons that Celtic lost points away to Hibs today

After an impressive run of five successive wins on the road Celtic ground to a halt today at Easter Road, drawing 0-0 with a dull Hibs side that offered little of a threat.

An injury to Reo Hatate forced one change on Brendan Rodgers for his second trip to the capital in a week, if the Japanese midfielder had been fit it would have been the same starting XI for the third time in seven days.

Two factors contributed to today’s dropped points- Sky Sports dictating the fixture list and Mark Lawwell’s disastrous summer transfer window.

For no obvious scheduling reason Sky were allowed to push last week’s match at Tynecastle back from Saturday lunchtime to a 2.30pm kick off on Sunday.

Typically not a word was said by Celtic, the SPFL or the broadcaster, such is their interest in Scottish football that tomorrow they’ll be showing Kilmarnock v Aberdeen on a nightmare surface.

These things happen when you leave negotiations up to Neil Doncaster. Very easily the Hearts match could have been played on Saturday, Atletico on Wednesday wasn’t up for negotiation with the Hibs game on Sunday for the Sky cameras. Good luck trying to get an audience for Aberdeen’s visit to the plastic.

The other factor is entirely in Celtic’s hands with the appointment of Mark Lawwell Junior and his very limited contact book to head up Scouting and First Team recruitment with no previous experience.

From last spring it was clear that Celtic needed three first team starters, improvements on what they had, players of the calibre of Jota and Cameron Carter-Vickers who had been signed last summer for decent fees on good contracts. Solid investments rather than hopeful punts.

A change in manager seemed to give Lawwell the chance to indulge in his fantasy with projects brought in from South Korea, Australia and Norway. One of them made the bench today but was overlooked as Mikey Johnston and James Forrest were sent on to turn the match. Carl Starfelt has been replaced, none of the wingers signed in the summer are anywhere near Jota’s levels.

After the exertions against Hearts and Atletico there was virtually nothing left in the tank of the core group of 10 players that Rodgers trusts to get results.

In midweek against Atletico a scintillating first half was followed by a tired second period.

Rodgers had no option but to hope that his core side could hang on. A year ago Ange Postecoglou could have put on Liel Abada and Sead Haksabanovic with Giorgos Giakoumakis to offer a different threat, all of them capable of starting and turning matches.

Luis Palma was the only summer permanent signing that started at Hibs today, he seemed to want to score every time he had the ball, with more experience or know how he could have played in better placed team-mates on a couple of occasions.

The unexpected opportunity and form of Liam Scales has pushed Maik Nawrocki and Gus Lagerbielke out the picture, where they can join Marco Tilio, Odin Thiago Holm and Kwon Hyeok-kyu. Four signings that will only start before January if there is an injury crisis. Five transfer fees, five signing on fees, five agent fees and five wages contributing nothing.

Rodgers has spoken about coaching the players that he is provided with. After making Celtic credible in the Champions League surely he has the clout to say no to signing more projects in January.

The first team squad picture featured 33 players but the manager has one left-back and one striker to get by with.

A massive push is needed over the next two transfer windows to shift on Kwon, Tilio, Alexandro Bernabei, Yuki Kobayashi and others out the door. Miracles like Scales happen very very rarely.

Only tried and tested arrivals are required, like in the summer of 2021 when Dom Mackay brought in Giakoumakis, Carl Starfelt, Josip Juranovic and created a title winning squad alongside the inspired loan moves for Jota and Cameron Carter-Vickers.

With Sky Sports manipulating the fixture list the onus is firmly on Lawwell Junior to prove his worth, deliver in the market and prove that he hasn’t inherited Dad’s judgement by bringing in Marian Shved, Vakoun Bayo, Ismaila Soro, Patryk Klimala, Albian Ajeti and Vasilis Barkas topped up with loans for Oli Burke, Diego Laxalt, Jeremy Toljan, Shane Duffy and Jonjoe Kenny. Andrew Gutman and Manny Perez are best forgotten.

There are 10 players that could move on in January without being missed- finding buyers as willing as Lawwell Junior was to sign them up will be the tricky part.

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