Michael Nicholson revealed as 'driving force' behind Celtic transfer strategy

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou has pinpointed the club’s chief executive Michael Nicholson as the man “driving” the transfer window strategy that he is set on rapidly delivering squad reinforcements.

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou has credited chief executive Michael Nicholson as key to January transfer planning. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou has credited chief executive Michael Nicholson as key to January transfer planning. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Japanese trio Daizen Maeda, Reo Hatate and Yosuke Ideguchi are believed to be close to joining in the early days of the new year, and Postecoglou maintains any successful moves will have been months in the planning - and the fruits of Nicholson’s considerable labours.

The permanent elevation to chief executive last week of the director who had acted for the club on legal affairs for seven years received an icy reception from large sections of the club’s support. Nicholson had been fulfilling the duties on an acting basis following the September departure of Dominic McKay, whose cutting adrift after only 72 days in post was perceived as major shareholder Dermot Desmond re-establishing the power structures as existed pre-McKay during the 17-year era of the now retired CEO Peter Lawwell.

The Celtic manager has largely set himself apart from the internal politics that consumes so much of the fanbase. But he is unabashed at stressing that Nicholson and the Celtic board’s “visions” for the team are currently “aligned” with his own.

“We’ve been working really hard on this window for quite a while,” the Celtic manager said. “We knew it would be a crucial one and it is not an easy one, to be fair, the January window. It’s not one where you really want to do too much because there is sometimes a desperation around it in terms of the business. So we set our task early on that, irrespective of how the first half of the year went, we knew what targets we wanted. We knew what kind of players.

“And he [Michael] has been the driving force behind it. Because, as you can appreciate, with the games we have had, I had to focus on making sure that we were competitive on the field. He’s taken the lead on that and he’s working awfully hard in the background to make sure we get what we need done.”

It was put to Postecoglou that he must be encouraged by the sense the club’s “suits” are really “pushing” to strengthen the squad for a humungous second half of the season. The decis ive phase of a campaign wherein the most lucrative Scottish title in history will be settled - the cinch Premiership winners almost certain to gain direct entry into the £35m-banking Champions League group stages. The 56-year-old believes there is no great mystery as to the board’s focus.

“It’s because our visions are aligned,” Postecoglou said. “It’s not always the way and there may be times in the future where, whatever my vision is, it’s at odds with Michael. But, you know, if there is reasoning behind it, then I am comfortable with that as well. That’s the key. I have good and open discussions with Michael and for both of us it’s about this football club.

“It’s not about ourselves, personally. It’s about what we think is going to be the right fit for this club. As long as that’s aligned, things run a lot more smoothly. As I said, he’s worked awfully hard this last couple of months as we knew the January window was going to be important to make sure we get what we need done.”

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