Celtic boss Neil Lennon’s warning over longer transfer window

Extra time for moves can work both ways

Celtic manager Neil Lennon supervises training. Picture: Alan Harvey/SNS
Celtic manager Neil Lennon supervises training. Picture: Alan Harvey/SNS

No one need tell Neil Lennon about the potential impact of a player moving during the throes of the season, as will be possible this season with the Covid-19 transfer window extended until October 5. The Irishman arrived at Celtic in the pre-window days, pitching up in early December 2000. His recruitment helped Martin O’Neill’s men overcome a wobble and set them up to land a treble, while the form of the Leicester City side he left behind spectacularly nosedived.

Lennon opts to believe the ability to bolster his squad as late as two months of the season can be a positive. Yet, in the pursuit of the 10-in-a-row milestone he may have more to fear than gain, with clubs also able to pick off prized asset Odsonne Edouard at any advanced stage of a Premiership campaign that begins for the champions today at home to Hamilton Accies. The uncertainty over the French talisman explains why a £5m bid for Peterbrough stiker Ivan Toney remains live. The player will consider a move to Scotland in the coming days only if fellow suitors Brentford lose their Premiership play-off with Fulham on Tuesday. Lennon says the club have a number of “plates spinning” as regards transfers and these sort of revolutions could last for the next nine weeks.

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“The extended transfer window is something you would perceive as an advantage – or something new anyway,” the Celtic manager said. “As your season is into its flow you might be able to bring in a player you need in a certain position. That’s an advantage from our point of view and something new.

‘We haven’t had that for a long time – it goes back to my days of playing when you could buy a player at more or less any stage of the season. That will be up to the club.

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‘The detrimental side is you just don’t know, a club could come in and show real interest in one of your players and then you have to play a real waiting game to see if they are going to bid or if it’s going to be unsettling for the player.

“I don’t know how it will pan out. It might just be an extension of what we already see in January or August. There might be activity in the last week in October. Now the EPL is finished and the major leagues are winding down and preparing for the season coming it will be interesting to see how the market looks. There doesn’t seem to be a drop in terms of the major clubs and buying major players. There may be a drip-down effect from that as we go on.”

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What else Lennon considers will be different - apart from playing in empty stadiums for at least the first six weeks - concerns the complexion of the campaign Their 13 point advantage meant the title was effectively sealed when the March lockdown curtailed the season. However, it means a clutch of new players have no experience of sealing a title in a run-in. A time wherein the cacophony around the game can go off the scale.

“We’re looking to try and improve, domestically and in Europe with Champions League qualifiers to look forward to as well,” Lennon said. “But ultimately, at the start of the season the priority is always to win the title – whether it’s your 10th or your first. For the likes of [Jeremie] Frimpong and [Christopher] Jullien – although they won it, they haven’t experienced going the full season because it was curtailed. There’s a real extra incentive for for these guys to help the rest of the squad over the line.

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“We live in an era of social media now where there’s intense scrutiny and analysis. You get used to it and immune to it. You learn to blank it out and do your job the best you can. That’s worked well for us up until now. That’s the way we do our business – we want to maintain that and build on it.”

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