8.12.04

Bouncebackability!


A bit of a bummer last night, but at least I can get some consolation out of the fact that my favourite English team (Arsenal) got through, and I still have tonight to look forward to when Liverpool take on the 'mighty' Olympiakos of Greece in search of a two-goal victory to secure their place in Europe's elite. As for Celtic... Well, I have said it before, we are not up there, and the people in charge insist in the fantasy that we can join Europe's top clubs on determination alone. We have a great manager who has done wonders with the meagre resources available to him, and who is showing signs of frustration at the lack of resources. The money men don't seem to have a clue what it's all about, as is quite clearly obvious by the way they mishandle contract negotiations with our best players. Last year we lost a superb young player who had just forced his way into the team. We waited until the last year of his contract, which fell during his breakthrough season, to offer him a new one. Manchester United snapped him up, and are paying him double our best offer. The year before, this player had asked for a new contract, and was told there was no urgency. Now there is a similar fiasco brewing with our leading goalscorer, whose contract is up at the end of the season. For months he has been saying he wanted to have it sorted out so he can concentrate on the football, and for months the money men have been hedging their bets. In January he will be able to sign a pre-contract agreement with any other club, and we will lose him, and not get a penny for it. But still the negotiations are dragging on. And remember, this is just to keep what we already have - we are not even talking about strengthening the squad. Despite three successful European campaigns, we have a weaker squad now than we had four years ago. Our main rivals, Rangers, have bought well this season, and have several talented players to call upon. What did we get? A Brazilian World Cup winner at the end of his career, and who is not up to the physical challenge of the Scottish game, and a Senegalese striker on loan from a team that was relegated from the English Premiership last season, and who would miss an empty net from six inches. It says a lot that our two summer signings spend more time warming the bench than they do on the park. Still, as the photo says, it is a fan's lot to grin and bear it, and there were some positive things from last night: we didn't get beaten by Milan, and we have discovered a bright new star in 18 year-old Aiden McGeady who was running rings around Alessandro Nesta, Milan's international defender - so much so that the Italians ended up putting two men on him. What a compliment.

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