The underrated success of Celtic signing policy

By Euan Davidson

September 25, 2021

It’s far too early to say whether ever Celtic summer window signing was a success or not. But there’s already a considerable difference between last season and this one.

Consider 20-21, if you will. Too many times, supporters were ignored to a degree, win, lose or draw. One of the common complaints that, under Neil Lennon, the players weren’t able to express themselves.

All forced rigidly into a siege mentality of sorts, and often criticised publicly in the press, the Celtic players went about their business with a significant lack of confidence.

That showed in the results on the pitch, but also the communication with fans off of it. Communication in general from the club was a point of enormous contention, and barring a few characters, we couldn’t honestly say we got to know the new players, particularly.

Diego Laxalt liked classic cars and streaming video games. Shane Duffy was a boyhood fan. Vasilis Barkas barely spoke to the media, while Albian Ajeti was kept similarly under wraps.

Compare that to this year. Already, Kyogo has built an extraordinary relationship with the fans. Ex-England ‘keeper Joe Hart is a stand-in captain. Liel Abada has absolutely infectious enthusiasm (look at any Celtic player’s Instagram post, he’ll be there). Then there’s the genuinely witty Jota, the earnest and humble Cameron Carter-Vickers… the list goes on.

Joe Hart understands Celtic – and brilliant Thursday moment proved it

Joe Hart understands Celtic – and brilliant Thursday moment proved it

Even project signings like Osaze Urhoghide have been communicating with the fans. We feel like we know these guys far better. That just wasn’t the case last season. When things were bad, players were only wheeled out to say things like “we have to improve”.

This year’s squad is bursting with personality. That kind of thing matters a lot.

Nearly every Celtic signing has shown personality, a shared goal and desire to relate to supporters

Yet, at no point has it felt like a narrative has been forced on the supporters. There’s the obvious stuff; they like the manager, they like the supporters, they like each other.

But it seems much more than that. Celtic have positioned their new signings – generally speaking – in such a way that’s it’s been easy to get behind them. Perhaps that’s a follow-on from more detailed psychological profiling in the scouting process. A return on an investment if you like.

Rather than aloof stars, this Celtic team seems full of genuinely humble lads from a differing set of backgrounds.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Some guys are promising talents who are moving to a bigger stage. Some are resuscitating their careers after some wilderness years.

It just seems, for now at least, like an extremely good blend. Results on the pitch will be the main proof of that.

Still, it looks as if Postecoglou has mined his notes for players who can bring not just quality on the pitch, but more expansive qualities off the pitch that fans can absolutely relate to.

As the season goes on, that’s going to matter a lot.

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