'Mistakes were made': Dermot Desmond lifts lid on Fraser Forster Celtic situation, erroneous trips and what went wrong last season

Celtic majority shareholder Dermot Desmond has spoken on why Celtic were unable to land Fraser Forster on a permanent deal and what went wrong last season.

In a rare interview, Desmond said that the player walked away from a move to Celtic after agreeing a fee with Southampton and that was the start of issues in the summer of 2020 that led to the club relinquishing its grip on the cinch Premiership title.

Celtic ended up signing Vasilis Barkas, with the Greek’s time in Scotland largely underwhelming, with Rangers pulling away from Celtic from an early stage.

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Desmond also addressed the decision-making with regard to then-manager Neil Lennon and that “mistakes were made” with regard to players going away on trips during the pandemic.

Fraser Forster decided not to sign for Celtic permanently.Fraser Forster decided not to sign for Celtic permanently.
Fraser Forster decided not to sign for Celtic permanently.

"As a club, we're continuing to learn and want to improve every aspect of the club,” Desmond told Celtic TV.

"Our facilities, our infrastructure, our personnel, that's a given, every year.

"If we look back and analyse last year, let's look at the facts. The first thing we wanted to do was retain all our squad to win ten [titles] in a row.

"That we did, we wanted to retain the players we had on-loan, [Mohamed] Elyounoussi and [Fraser] Forster from Southampton.

Celtic Majority shareholder Dermot Desmond.Celtic Majority shareholder Dermot Desmond.
Celtic Majority shareholder Dermot Desmond.

"We'd reached terms with Southampton that both could come. Both players wanted to come and those deals were being consummated.

"Unfortunately, at the last minute, Fraser Forster decided to stay at Southampton.

"But in the interim, we'd let Craig Gordon go. That was the start of a little bit of challenges we faced from the previous year.

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"We were in need of getting a goalkeeper to replace both Forster and Gordon. That was one of the challenges we faced.

"We recruited other players so that in every position we had cover. We added Shane Duffy as cover for centre-back and we did that throughout the whole squad.

"Now, there were mistakes made, I grant you. As far as maybe selection, there were mistakes made that were Covid-related, there were mistakes made with players going on trips.

"But it wasn't from the lack of having the squad, it wasn't the lack of dedicated manager and coaches to resolve the issues.

"You may say we should've got rid of the manager earlier on, the manager was an outstanding player for Celtic that won the league in his own right in his first period as manager of Celtic.

"He'd basically won two trebles, if you want to call it a treble and two thirds. Everybody endorsed the view Celtic were favourites to win the league.

"All the pundits, the paper commentators and, indeed, the betting companies. They had us odds-on favourites.

"We were well-geared for ten in a row. Unfortunately it didn't happen.”