Celtic for the past two seasons have kicked off their seasons early with Champions League Qualifiers. This season the first whistle of the Celtic campaign blew on the 15th of July. The whole debate of Champions needing to go through qualifying stages is another debate that usually happens every July.
The point is it’s a very short space of time to find and sign players and then to get them to fit into a squad and adjust to everything that goes with a transfer.
Surely January is a better time to be buying players and giving them nearly 6 months in their new surroundings to adjust, establish themselves in the team or let the club know that the player isn’t going to cut the mustard. The team that “played” Warsaw were unrecognisable to the team that had just won a league championship.
Then there’s the matter of match fitness, Celtic over the past number of years have been drawn against teams who already have their season underway so their team have an advantage in terms of match fitness and sharpness. Neil Lennon was infuriated with a trip to Cliftonville so early in the season:
I’m baffled that after beating Barcelona and reaching the last 16 we have an extra qualifier. It has to be looked at by UEFA.
Granted, there was a new manager in but it’s not like previous Celtic managers such as Neil Lennon and Gordon Strachan didn’t struggle going through qualifying either. It’s mid January and it so far it doesn’t sound like any big moves are going to be made in this transfer window by Celtic, in fact, it reads more like we could be losing one or two big players.
Celtic don’t really have a history of big signings in January and the point is the club looks like its going to have to find the hard route every season with poor coefficient ratings not likely to change anytime in the near future.