Why were Celtic so determined to hang on to a manager costing them tens of millions?
The men leading the club had presided over nine successive league title seasons, so it’s been assumed that supporters are merely throwing their toys out of the pram because the club have been unable to extend the domination for one more year.
This is not the case. The Celtic support has long had a strained association with those ultimately responsible for the success and failure of the team. They’re looked upon as prioritising the bank balance rather than trying to grow the club as a continent force, often being accused of choosing the cheaper option or haggling too much over player transfers, with the John McGinn saga being the most noteworthy in the last few years.
It is therefore strange that such a fiscally stringent group would stubbornly dig their heels in while the club was losing millions of pounds in future assets.
News broke earlier this week that Odsonne Edouard is closing in on a move to Leicester City and a reunion with former boss Brendan Rodgers. This will reportedly cost the English Premier League side £15 million. It’s a pricey sum of money, but considering Celtic paid £9 million for their record signing and there is a portion of the fee going back to PSG as part of a sell-on clause, they won’t be earning too much from the deal overall.
That seemed unthinkable this time last year when Edouard was widely recognised as an asset who would go for more than the £20 million the club earned on the sale of Moussa Dembele to Lyon. Figures upwards of £30 million were banded about for one of the most exciting young strikers in Europe.
So what happened? Celtic in 2020/21 is what happened. An anti-Midas touch developed around the reigning champions and the French striker couldn’t escape the hex. A one point he went almost five months without scoring a goal from open play in domestic football as his performance levels dipped dramatically.
He was far from the only one to do so inside the Parkhead dressing room under Neil Lennon’s waning influence. It was clear the manager had outstayed his effectiveness, but the board and majority shareholder Dermot Desmond refused to see what was right in front of them – including the bottom line.
Edouard isn’t the only player who will have majorly decreased in value. Anyone Celtic will be open to selling this summer, whether it’s Olivier Ntcham, Ryan Christie, Kristoffer Ajer, Callum McGregor, whomever, they won’t be getting anywhere near what they would have before they all profoundly regressed under the former boss.
And that’s without taking into account the pair of tactical disasters which cost them the chance at the Champions League group stage and upwards of £30 million in prize money in each of the last two seasons. First there was Callum McGregor at left-back in the 4-3 defeat to Cluj, then Ryan Christie’s appearance as a loan striker in a loss to Ferencvaros.
It may seem trite to focus on the departed boss ten days after his exit, but this disastrous campaign could have consequences for years to come. The Edouard fee is just one example of it.
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