The one key Celtic issue Nick Hammond looks to have sorted out

By David Walton

April 1, 2021

With Celtic announcing the departure of Nick Hammond last night, it led to another air of positivity sweeping around the football club.

Celtic fans can finally sense a new dawn honing in on them. Yet another of Neil Lennon’s staff is gone, and a key piece of the jigsaw at that. Hammond left his Head of Football Operations role with a major gap in the footballing department. One that will likely be filled by an incoming Director of Football. This was all part of the plan after Lennon left.

For Hammond simply wasn’t up to it and had proven so. £5million spent on Albian Ajeti [Sky Sports]. £4.5m on Vasilis Barkas [Scottish Sun]. £2m just so we could see Shane Duffy for a year [Sky Sports]. £3.5m on Patryk Klimala, a player who’s scored only three goals in his first 14 months here [Scottish Sun].

Yes, recruitment has been dreadful. There have simply been far too many failures. When you lose your organisation the money Hammond has managed with Celtic, there was never going to be any coming back from it.

However, for all of the poor signings and criticisms you can aim at the former Head of Football Operations, there is one major issue he looks to have sorted out. That’s the replacement of Scott Brown.

Finding Scott Brown’s replacement was a major task; Celtic look like they managed it under Hammond

Before Hammond’s arrival, the issue of Scott Brown’s replacement was a huge issue. Lee Congerton had failed to do so along with Brendan Rodgers. Eboue Kouassi was supposed to be the man when he signed four years ago, but he proved to be a poor buy.

In Ismaila Soro, one of Hammond’s finds, we finally look like we have our man. Soro has featured 19 times in what’s been a breakthrough season for him. He even kept Brown out of the team back in December during our strongest run of performances this season.

Soro’s major acid test came at Ibrox back in early January. He absolutely bossed the midfield battle and ensured Celtic dominated the derby in a way they hadn’t done since pre-Lennon. Inexplicably, Soro was dropped by the former Celtic manager for Brown once more. Interim manager John Kennedy has continued in the same manner.

Ismaila Soro: absolute class / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

But Soro, a £2m signing back in January 2020 [The Herald], looks like Brown’s positional replacement next season. He’s been something of a revalation this season along with fellow midfielder David Turnbull.

And Hammond also moved to secure talented young Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Liam Shaw on a pre-contract. If Soro, for whatever reason, doesn’t work out, we would hope we have a fallback on Shaw.

Hammond’s time at Celtic was disastrous. You can’t really dress that up with all of the poor buys we’ve made. But it does look as though he’s found Brown’s replacement. That, just a couple of years ago, was proving to be a troublesome task.

In other news, Shay Logan’s Aberdeen exit has finally been explained after Scott Brown’s arrival.