Exclusive: Jackie McNamara questions Celtic planning; comments on wantaway stars

By Euan Davidson

January 7, 2021

Celtic legend Jackie McNamara didn’t hold back when he spoke to 67 Hail Hail this week.

The former Celtic defender, a treble winner with the Hoops in 00-01, always has a constructive comment when it comes to the Bhoys. Like the supporters, Jackie Mac has noticed a stagnation and lack of forward planning at Parkhead.

Speaking on summer plans, recruitment and the difficulties Celtic have faced so far this season, Jackie McNamara was typically honest. He points to an obsession with 10IAR as part of the problem.

“We don’t seem to be as strong as we were a couple of seasons ago. A lot of the focus has been on trying to secure the 10, and that’s been in the decisions of certain players coming in. Or doing things differently from before, that’s worked.

“They’ll look at that in the summer, press the reset button, and [say] “let’s go back to what’s working”.

“The recruitment has been mixed. The ones they’ve brought in; Turnbull looks like he’ll be a fantastic signing. Soro, Frimpong is young, there’s a lot of things to build on for the squad and the future.

“You’ll see changes at both clubs. If [Rangers] do get into the Champions League, they’ll be able to buy players and get stronger. Competition is healthy, but we just want to win!

“I think the difficulty is playing qualifiers before the team’s ready. Or before they’ve got players into the building. Sometimes they wait to see if they get through the qualifiers and then they’ll add one or two players later on.

“The teams you play at the start, if you played now, you’d probably beat them. I remember the year we got the UEFA Cup Final, we got beat against Basel. We weren’t ready, hadn’t played enough games and were rusty.

“If you do the work early, get the team settled early then focus on trying to qualify, it’ll help the team in the long run.”


Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard battling against Dundee United / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Jackie McNamara on Celtic and their unsettled stars

McNamara went on to discuss want-away players and the all-important context of the Champions League.

Celtic once again failed to qualify for Europe’s premier competition. Crashing out to Hungarian champions Ferencvaros (Sky Sports), it was just the tip of the iceberg that was the Bhoys in Europe this season.

“You seen the year before, [Moussa] Dembélé left once we were out of Europe.

“[Players] are not coming to Celtic to play in the Scottish league, they’re coming to play in the Champions League, or to earn a move to England or abroad.

“Every season, if we don’t make the Champions League, you see a lot of them wanting to move.

“The most important thing in the summer is to find moves for the ones who don’t want to be there. Obviously, you have to get the right amount for them in the market. You then try and reinvest that in players that are up and coming.”

Jackie McNamara commented on Celtic centre-back Shane Duffy / (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Bhoys legend Jackie on Shane Duffy

Celtic hero McNamara also spoke about the heartbreaking derby defeat on Saturday. The Bhoys dominated the game, but lost to a Callum McGregor own goal. It was a particularly harsh way to lose a Glasgow Derby, and Neil Lennon’s squad will be looking to bounce back at the first opportunity.

The former Partick Thistle manager had specific comments about the defence. He said he felt sorry for Irish captain Shane Duffy, who has had an incredibly difficult year on and off the pitch.

Specifically, it was Lennon’s choice of Nir Bitton over the Brighton loanee that caused concern for McNamara.

“It tells you he doesn’t have a lot of confidence in Duffy, or a lot of confidence in Bitton. I think it’s more the latter. You could see that with Duffy when he came on, he looked really nervous in possession.

“It’s a shame ’cause his dream was to play for Celtic and be part of it. No fans there, he’s not experienced home games. It’s been a tough time for him.”

For more Jackie McNamara content, watch ‘Celtic’s concerning contract situation – and what a major Hoops rebuild could look like’ on the 67 Hail Hail YouTube Channel.