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Terminado? Nothing adds up as Rodgers goes public on Lawwell’s transfer ‘strategy’

Brendan Rodgers added another contrasting version to Celtic’s summer transfer activities when he spoke to the broadcast media.

It wasn’t a 180 degrees about turn but another of the 45 or 90 degree turns that have left fans no clearer over what is going on inside the club.

Not every detail needs to be made public, the summer window of 2021 was exceptional with exactly the right profile of player arriving followed up by another impressive window in January before Mark Lawwell got involved.

The summer window really should have seen Celtic make great strides forward regardless of who was manager.

A well run club with a young promising squad was fairly certain of playing in the group stage of the Champions League from January 2 when Kyogo Furuhashi equalised at Ibrox to secure a draw and retain the nine point advantage at the top of the Premiership.

Rodgers looked on from an executive box at Hampden at the end of April as a place in the Scottish Cup Final against Inverness Caley Thistle was booked, he is on record as saying that he has watched every match since leaving for Leicester City in 2019.

Last season’s squad perhaps at a push reached 13 good quality players but it shouldn’t have been too difficult to bring in three first team starters of the quality of Cameron Carter-Vickers and Jota to raise the bar.

Incredibly Jota, Carl Starfelt and Aaron Mooy left to be replaced by seven project signings and two loans with only Luis Palma making any positive impact on the side this season. Even at that it is doubtful if he’d have been involved last season when Daizen Maeda, Jota and Liel Abada competed for two places on the wing.

Back in August, before losing to Kilmarnock in the League Cup Rodgers explained that his role was to coach and develop the players supplied by the club. On his return he had highlighted the great work by Lawwell Mini, one of the factors that made him decide on another stint as manager.

With recruitment under fire at last week’s AGM Rodgers stepped in to explain that he had the final say over signings. Suddenly the blame for the summer signings had two sources.

Yesterday another element was raised when Rodgers told the broadcast media conference that he wanted to add four quality signings to last season’s squad.

Some arithmetic would now suggest that the current squad is seven short of what the manager requires although that conclusion wasn’t aired yesterday the message was fairly clear.

Friday’s Questions and Answers

You mentioned the need for that quality after the match. I suppose there are one or two grumblings within the fan base on why that quality was not added in the summer considering the number you brought in. How would you react to that?

Supporters have every right to ask and demand the highest level of expectations and that’s what we demand here. I think there was an anticipation in the summer that a number of players were going to move on so replacement players were brought in. That didn’t happen and we ended up with a bigger squad than what we anticipated. There’s no doubt going forward now that the squad will come down in number and we need to add quality. There’s no dressing it up, the group lost real quality players in the summer so that’s something over the coming windows that we will look to improve on.

Is there confidence from yourself when you look at the scouting network already in place, the money that was talked about at the AGM and the strong financial position of the club? Is there that confidence that those quality players will be added soon?

If that’s the ambition of the club then of course that will happen. I think that the club has been so well run for so many years and from a domestic perspective that’s been highlighted in terms of what the club has achieved. The next step is the European side and that’s why I came back, to hopefully be able to fulfil that in my time here.

At the end of the window, you said that you would have liked to have added one or two more players. Coming to the end of this Champions League campaign, has that changed your mind at all?

I felt when I came here in the summer that with the squad that was already in place from last season that we probably needed four players, and by that I meant four quality players to add to the squad. How the game works, you lose players and there were players that were earmarked to come in prior to me coming here. That’s absolutely fine, they’re no problem as we’ve got young talents here that will develop and grow and that’s the model of the club.

To continue to improve and grow then you need to have players that are established because they help bring those players on. I’m very very confident that we can do that over the coming windows. Once we get some of our players back like Daizen Maeda, and Liel Abada, who are very important players for us. Reo Hatate when he comes back in January will be like a new signing for us and he’ll be great. There is no doubt that we have to add extra quality. We don’t need quantity of players, you need quality and that’s how you improve.

Have you had these discussions with the people that make these transfer decisions? Do you see it more as a January topic or in the summer at the end of the season?

It’s ongoing. My sole focus at the moment and priority is the players that we have and maximising what they are bringing to the game. So far this season we have not had a settled team or squad. Through the injuries the players have performed domestically very well and in Europe we have had some very good moments.

The beauty and excitement for me is that I know it will get better and it will improve and that’s what I look forward to. It doesn’t necessarily all have to be in January because the right player might not be available. It might be the summer but certainly over my time here we will want to improve the depth and the quality of the team.

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