If there’s one man who came out of yesterday’s AGM looking the part it’s Celtic’s new Head of Football Operations Nicky Hammond.
Hammond was taken on by Celtic in what was a trial period over the summer. He was to play an active role in helping Neil Lennon to strengthen the squad. During his initial months at the club, Celtic managed to bring in the likes of Christopher Jullien, Hatem Abd Elhamed, and Boli Bolingoli just to name a few.
The former Reading Director of Football has made a strong impression. Much of Lennon’s early success has been built on his successful scouting work over the summer. Celtic shows their faith in him when they appointed him permanently last month too (CelticFC.net).
At yesterday’s AGM, it was clear that both Lennon and Peter Lawwell were keen to praise his work. As reported by the Daily Record (live blog, 11:46 and 12:00), here’s what both men had to say on Hammond.
Lawwell: “Nick Hammond has been exceptional. We got the right players in. The real core of the team are under long term contracts’. We are stable on and off the pitch. Nick is rebuilding our recruitment department and we have high, high hopes for him. We have to find uncut diamonds and the basis is good recruitment.”
Lennon: “Hammond has been a massive help. We’ve replaced (departed) players with quality. There was a huge gap in recruitment when Brendan and Lee (Congerton) left. It was important he had a look at it first. He produced a brilliant report and he is my go-to guy. His personality energises you.”
Two ringing endorsements, but the hard work has only started
Hammond deserves all of the praise going for what was a thoroughly successful summer. Going through all 14 of our summer signings, there’s not one you could pick out and say he’s failed. And that also came in a summer where there were massive concerns over the right-back, left-back, and centre-back positions.
The one player to have perhaps made the least impact is Greg Taylor. But would you consider him a poor signing or a flop anytime soon? Absolutely not. Hammond has worked closely with Lennon and there’s a clear trust developing there.
But one good transfer window does not make a successful Head of Football Operations. Hammond has now officially signed up for ensuring we reach 10-in-a-row. The hard work has only begun, and he’ll have to play a key role in ensuring that Lenny gets what he needs to top things up in January.
Much of the love towards Hammond probably comes from just how poor an appointment Lee Congerton was. Sure, he had his moments such as bringing in Odsonne Edouard and Olivier Ntcham respectively.
During his stint as Head of Recruitment, however, he also had signings such Marvin Compper, Youssouf Mulumbu, Oliver Burke, Jeremy Toljan, and Jack Hendry to his name respectively. We had just as many poor players coming in as good ones.
Celtic had been crying out for something new and someone with a fresh set of ideas. Hammond apparently seems to be that man, and we have a lot to thank him for already.
Hopefully, he can back his summer up with a strong January. As the road to 10-in-a-row gets shorter and shorter, we have no room for bad business.