Pat Bonner believes Celtic should push the boat out and make two major signings to ensure they can navigate a way out of the Champions League group phase.
Wednesday’s 5-0 crushing of Astana means manager Brendan Rodgers will once again lead his side into the lucrative sectional set-up leading to as much as £30 million in revenue.
Bonner believes that re-investing some of that money in a central defender and an attacker can make the difference in prolonging their involvement in Europe’s elite competition.
The former Parkhead goalkeeper, who was helping to make the draw for the second round of the Irn-Bru Cup at the Falkirk Wheel yesterday, has scarcely seen a more complete Celtic European performance than the destruction of Astana and feels landing in the Europa League in the new year is the least most fans should now expect. However, he would love to see two marquee arrivals that would signal Celtic’s intent to joust with Europe’s best.
With injuries to Dedryck Boyata and Erik Sviatchenko, and Moussa Dembele out until next month, centre-back and centre-forward are the areas he would like to see filled.
Bonner said: “There should be the possibility of adding a couple of players.
“There are those two areas, central defence and up front. But it’s the type of player that’s crucial.
“You have to be logical about it and we don’t know how long Boyata is going to be out or Sviatchenko.
“If Sviatchenko was fit I would think they might be looking at moving him out and getting a better one in there. That would have filled the void a little bit.
“Up front, there is a legitimate debate to be had there about adding another striker.
“If Patrick Roberts signs on loan again then what he does is he can play in that position but also wide. There was a debate about whether Brendan could play with two up front at times, if he brings another one in there.
“It’s not his preferred way of playing but there is a legitimate argument about bringing in another striker.
“But if you bring in one quality one for money you have to get him into the team and he’s not going to be happy sitting around. So, it’s a bit of a dilemma.
“Brendan’s in the situation where he doesn’t want to add players just for the sake of it.
“He wants to find the right ones, not just from an ability point of view but also to fit into his philosophy and the way he wants the team to play.
“If you go and buy a big-name player, with a big price tag, he has to go straight into the team.
“Is that going to upset the environment a little bit? Who is he going to leave out?”
Bonner feels having already made next Tuesday’s return with Astana a formality, Celtic should be looking to at least get out of the group.
Some blanched at the £2m-plus salary afforded to Rodgers, pictured, but Bonner insists European qualification more than justifies it.
He said: “Brendan was brought in to take Celtic into the group stage and that’s why he is being paid the big money.
“Last year was a real bonus but this year the expectation was higher.
“So he’s done really well because, of course, they are already through as they can’t lose 6-0 next week.
“The first target was obviously to get to the Champions League.
“But I think the demand he will be putting on the players would be to get out of the group stage.
“He’s developed the team really well and it’s pleasing on the eye. You can see exactly what’s happening on the pitch.
“Ntcham beside Brown means they are a little more square than they are with Armstrong but that’s a good defensive unit for Europe and they still exploit those spaces further up.
“With other managers, you were never quite sure how they were playing in Europe and they got away with it because they had better players in the league.
“I think it was the most relaxed I’ve been ever at a game. Everything went well for them, absolutely everything.
“Even the time Simunovic went down when he got knocked over and the ref gave a free-kick, when he could have lost it in a dangerous position.
“In saying that, they controlled the game well and that’s what Brendan’s been trying to get them to understand.
“I think Astana came with a bit of over-confidence. They thought they were going to come here and it was going to be the Celtic of last year but it wasn’t and that’s the big difference.”
Perhaps romantically, Bonner would love to see his old club land in a group with Real Madrid, allowing the Parkhead fans to see Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema at close quarters.
He added: “I would love to see them draw Real Madrid. Last year was about as tough as it could have been for Celtic but knowing Brendan he will want to go in and take a few scalps.”