Celtic transfer guru Nick Hammond leaves confusing legacy and uncertain future

By Euan Davidson

March 31, 2021

So, Nick Hammond has left Celtic.

Just a quick update in case you missed it. And we’ll admit it, we’re not entirely sure what the Head of Football Operations did during his stint at the club after joining in 2019.

Formerly of West Bromwich Albion and Reading, Hammond ran the show for the latter between 2003 and 2016. The Berkshire side made it into the Premier League under Steve Coppell, who was approached by Hammond to take the job. Over their spells in the top-flight and Championship, Reading signed extremely well.

The likes of Dave Kitson, Kevin Doyle and Leroy Lita became Premier League players under Hammond, whose swashbuckling, attacking Reading side won plaudits over two spells in the top-flight. Nick Hammond was central to the club’s recruitment at all levels, and helped to set up the club’s academy [Birmingham Live].

What he did for Celtic was unclear, however. We never learned much of anything about him while he was here. We’ve got to assume he was head of recruitment, over the January 2020 and Summer 2020 windows. These weren’t entirely fruitful spells for the club.

Players were signed in a scatter-gun approach. Vasilis Barkas, Albian Ajeti, David Turnbull arrived permanently, while Shane Duffy, Diego Laxalt and Mohamed Elyounoussi were brought in on loan, the latter for the second time. Attempts had been made to buy-low-sell-high, particularly with Barkas and potentially Liam Shaw.

Nick Hammond in 1998 / (Photo by Staff/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)

What next for Celtic after Nick Hammond waves goodbye?

It looked like Hammond was attempting to flex his muscle with the English leagues ahead of the summer. Alfie Doughty, Bright Osayi-Samuel and more were linked, albeit to no avail. Meanwhile, Kwadwo Baah, Kyle Joseph and Siriki Dembele are continually talked about in the context of Celtic.

With that in mind, it seemed Hammond was still the one with the biggest vote on transfers. It looked like there was some kind of coherent strategy for once, after the dismal return from the summer window.

Now, who knows? If Hammond had been sacked, you’d expect the club would announce a new face soon. Him resigning only complicates matters, though. No mention of “mutual consent” either, which you might’ve thought would be the case.

Perhaps Hammond is cutting his losses. He’s seen the scale of the rebuild required at Celtic and given up. If that’s the case, it’s a pretty weak abdication of responsibility after his signings, en masse, have put us in a difficult spot. There didn’t seem to be an understanding between himself and Neil Lennon. We might never know whose decisions Barkas and Duffy were.

It’s not just transfers, though. Theoretically, Nick Hammond would’ve been involved in finding Neil Lennon’s successor. Identifying managers is something he did with WBA and Reading. Yet, here we are with no manager, nobody in charge of running football operations, and a CEO with one foot out the door already.

So, more uncertainty upon uncertainty for Hoops supporters.

At least we’re used to it by now.

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