So, Liam Shaw announced he’s signed for Celtic.
No problem with that. The promising 19-year-old midfielder has earned good reviews in his first season of first-team football at Sheffield Wednesday. Certainly, it’s better to sign someone whose fans will miss him than not.
Describing the move as “impossible to turn down”, Shaw certainly looks a decent prospect. With at least Scott Brown, Olivier Ntcham and possibly Tom Rogic leaving Celtic this summer, a new-look midfield for 21-22 is set to be in place. Yes, he has already collected two red cards this season [Transfermarkt], but that’s more down to youthful naïveté than it is a dangerous streak.
Still, Liam Shaw was targeted while Neil Lennon was in charge. He’s been in Celtic’s crosshairs for a good while now, with the Bhoys finally landing their target. But what does that say about recruitment at the club, and does it suggest longer-term ramifications for Nick Hammond?
When did Liam Shaw to Celtic rumours start, and who led the charge?
Liam Shaw was first linked – in any substantial way – back in January. By Celtic’s standards, this has been a trolley dash. Crucially, this was when Neil Lennon was still Celtic boss, and very determined about remaining so.
Lennon, for his part, didn’t talk about the move. That implies that he wasn’t massively involved, although he may have been attempting to curb the expectations of supporters. Invariably, when we’re linked to a footballer, as supporters we generally expect the board to make the appropriate moves, and we’re disappointed when they don’t.
So, is this a Nick Hammond signing? Very likely, yes. Hammond is well-connected in England, having worked as Director of Football at Reading, and a Technical Director at West Bromwich Albion [BBC]. For all his rumoured faults, there are few that Celtic could hire who’d have better knowledge of the English game than Hammond.
Or, was Chris McCart, Head of Youth Development at the club, involved to some degree? It depends on how Celtic view Shaw. Like Luca Connell, Shaw has enjoyed a handful of performances at a decent level. Connell, though, has largely played development football since joining Celtic. He is yet to make a competitive first-team appearance.
So, if that were the case, who’s in the board’s ear in regards to signings? And what does that mean going further back?
If Hammond is signing players Neil Lennon didn’t necessarily want, should we worry about how the club might operate with a Director of Football? The next manager that comes in? All we need to do is look at Olivier Ntcham’s situation to see how things can break down through bad communication.
How would this improve in the future?
You’d hope that with a Director of Football/Sporting Director coming in, it’ll clear things up a bit. Or, as the case may be, it might shroud recruitment in even more mystery.
If Nick Hammond is in charge of Liam Shaw’s transfer, it suggests that he isn’t a man Celtic are desperate to part with. After all, he’s not actually been at the club for very long. As we’ve argued before, his is a job predicated on educated risks. The board might sympathise with a view that Hammond’s recruitment this season has been bad luck rather than bad judgement.
Make of that what you will.
But the Liam Shaw business suggests that there’s a place for Nick Hammond within a revamped footballing structure at Celtic. It’s hard to believe that anyone else at the club would’ve pushed for this move, given that nobody else has the exact remit of Nick Hammond.
These are very interesting times indeed for Celtic supporters.