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Rodgers swiftly changes his tune as the reality of Lawwell’s Recruitment hits hard

Brendan Rodgers has rapidly had to reassess the performance of Mark Lawwell.

From out of nowhere the former City Football Group website administrator was propelled into the job of Head of First Team Recruitment and Scouting at Celtic with Michael Nicholson putting the appointment down to Ange Postecoglou.

It seems highly irresponsible for a CEO to hand over responsibility for a long term strategic role to a manager less than a year into his 12 month rolling contract.

Cynics would highlight that the new Head of Recruitment was the son of the CEO that brought Marian Shved, Vakoun Bayo, Andrew Guttman, Many Perez, Luca Connell, Ismaila Soro, Patryk Klimala, Albian Ajeti and Vasilis Barkas to the pay-roll, topped up by loan deals for Shane Duffy, Oli Burke, Diego Laxalt and Jonjo Kenny.

It looked an ominous appointment in the summer of 2022, after two fantastic transfer windows there has been a massive downturn in the quality and impact of signings on Lawwell’s watch.

Alistair Johnston has been a decent replacement for Josip Juranovic but Alexandro Bernabei, Tomoki Iwata, Yosuke Ideguchi, Marco Tilio and Kwon Hyeok-kyu were no where to be seen as Celtic crashed to Lazio.

Gus Lagerbielke and Odin Thiago Holm weren’t trusted to come off the bench.

The reality of Rodgers’ team selections is in stark contrast to his praise in June for the Celtic Recruitment Team, on June 22 he told The Sun:

One thing I’ll start by saying the recruitment team – Michael [Nicholson, CEO] took me through the structure.

Since I was here I can see the clear change in the infrastructure and the team behind the football team.

Mark (Lawwell) has done a brilliant job with the recruitment – you can see the market the club is operating in. He’s done a great job bringing in the players which fit the profile of Celtic.

Last season’s Celtic side was probably two or three good signings away from being competent and competitive in European terms.

Instead of identifying those type of players Rodgers nodded through seven project signings that left him short on options in the Champions League and trying to manage a bloated squad where 10 players could be removed without any impact whatsoever.

With players sitting on four and five year contracts it will be very difficult to move them out with a couple of loans the most likely outcome in January rather than a clear out.

Selling Jota and Carl Starfelt at the same time as Aaron Mooy retired has trimmed quality from the squad. Injuries to Reo Hatate, Liel Abada and Daizen Maeda has left Rodgers with just four or five reliable performers forced into carrying others that are miles short of the standard required.

The manager was still defending the club’s flawed Recruitment policy at last week’s AGM, after another doomed European campaign ended in Rome he appears to have changed his mind.

The Sun reports Rodgers saying:

It’s the overall quality. We need to have our very best players available going into this competition.

We have been competitive but what makes the difference is that bit of experience and genuine quality.

That’s something we can hopefully resolve over the next couple of windows.

This group has gained more experience and shown they can compete in some games but we need to add quality. That’s the glaring thing that stands out.

The glaring thing that stands out is the downturn in quality since Lawwell Mini was appointed at Celtic.

On his own Ange Postecoglou brought Kyogo Furuhashi, Carl Starfelt, Joe Hart, Josip Juranovic and Giorgos Giakoumakis to Celtic in his first window. Topped up by Maeda, Hatate and Matt O’Riley in his first January window, the supposed difficult time to recruit. Mainly players in their mid-twenties with experience in the locker and requiring very little settling in time.

Over the course of three windows it seems that Lawwell doesn’t know any similar type players, when Starfelt was sold he took a tip from the defender’s agent and signed Lagerbielke from Elfsborg.

By the start of January it will become clear whether Lawwell Mini can identify and recruit quality or just scrape around the project market in the hope that the talent of an elite manager can transform some into £10m targets for Southampton.


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