Celtic have abandoned their tried and trusted methodology concerning incomings in the transfer market this January, it would seem.

Their tried and trusted formula – executed effectively by Ange Postecoglou in particular – has been posted missing thus far, with only one real incoming to speak of after a tumultuous first half to the season. And what a formula it was, too, though it has not always guaranteed results on the pitch for all of the benefactors. It was first seen on Hogmanay 2021, in Postecoglou’s second transfer window in charge of the club. Celtic were aiming to get closer to their rivals Rangers, who looked primed for their second consecutive title.

In one of the club’s most memorable announcement videos, Celtic published a teaser video to their Japanese social media platforms – which contained three gongs and native text, alongside traditional music of the country their new signings originated from. Finishing the year off with a bang and ushering the New Year in style, Celtic announced the triple signing of Reo Hatate, Daizen Maeda and Yosuke Ideguchi from Kawasaki Frontale, Yokohama F Marinos and Gamba Osaka respectively. All plying their trade in the J1 League at the time, Postecoglou – himself a former Marinos manager – was familiar with all three, particularly his ex-player in Maeda.

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Looking back at the many tweets that spawned on that particular day, the excitement and buzz were clear for all to see. These particular players had been linked to the club for months, with supporters still in a collective daze over the emergence of Kyogo Furuhashi following his move from the same place in the summer of the same year. After a dismal season the year before, the likes of Kyogo, Hatate and Maeda all contributed to steering the title back in the direction of the green half of Glasgow once again, the latter two providing some much-needed depth in the business end of the season.

This trend continued into 2022, as most of Celtic’s business was completed very early on in proceedings. Tomoki Iwata’s announcement on January 4, 2023, was considered one of the ‘later’ signings thanks to the club’s early recruitment drive of defenders Yuki Kobayashi and Alistair Johnston respectively. This proactive way of doing business paid off for Celtic, as Johnston put in a tremendous performance against Rangers at Ibrox, whilst Kobayashi was afforded even more time to adjust to his new home.

Fast forward to now, and Celtic – as things stand – have no new additions to the squad as we hit the mid-way point of the window. Of course, Nicolas Kühn looks set to join the club from Rapid Vienna in Austria, though this is a late deal compared to business completed in previous years. The question remains, however: why have Celtic not followed through with the process so far this month? It does not make any logical sense, in all honesty.

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By bringing in players quickly, you allow the incoming talent to acclimatise to their new surroundings, ahead of a busy second half of the league season. They will get to know their teammates through training and spending time with them, rather than rushing them in and hoping that they swim instead of sink. It worked for Postecoglou, particularly with examples such as Hatate, Maeda and the aforementioned Johnston. Funnily enough, all three players will be major players under the incumbent manager in the business end of the 2023/24 season, as they have all been since their respective arrivals, in truth.

Instead of this proactive approach, it seems as if Celtic are going to go down the reactive route with signings, a method many of a Celtic persuasion will groan at the mention of. They are familiar with it, having been subjected to the same strategy when Rodgers was manager the first time around. Indeed, it was this approach which played a part in the Irishman leaving the club back in February 2019 for pastures new at Leicester City. Between not getting the quality in quickly enough or recruiting a standard of player not good enough to play for the club, these factors contributed to the all-conquering Rodgers to head for the bright lights of the Premier League once again.

Though the landscape of Scottish football has changed somewhat since he departed – there seems to be a credible title challenge from Celtic’s neighbours – the club cannot allow history to repeat itself once again. It has been very well documented that around €60 million is on the line for the winner of the Scottish Premiership this year because of the UEFA Champions League, with the added incentive of more matches thanks to the ‘Swiss Model’ generating more of a cash flow than ever before in Europe’s premier club competition.

With a minimum of eight games to play in the Champions League next campaign, Celtic must not gamble with their signings, though in truth they already have, given their summer exploits. You could also make the point that you do not necessarily want the club to rush into any signings this month, given the scattergun approach that many sides adopt in this short window, something that Celtic themselves have been guilty of in years gone by.

Whatever the club decide to do in this window concerning transfer business, Celtic’s head of recruitment Mark Lawwell is under increasing pressure to deliver in this particular sector. Back in 2022, his arrival – suspiciously not broadcast on social media – pointed to a change in strategy, one which would encourage and implement modern practices and techniques in what seemed like a tired and outdated section of the football club, at least from the outside looking in.

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However, apart from a handful of signings – Luis Palma, Aaron Mooy, Johnston and Paulo Bernardo lately – you would have to say that the majority of his signings have been failures. There may have to be a frank conversation down the line if this trend of misses continues.

Regardless of this individual hit rate, time is of the essence this month. Celtic cannot afford to gamble this season with so much on the line. It is time to get working and ensure that the club are in the best possible position to deliver success once again this season.

Anything else would be unacceptable, especially with the positive position they find themselves back in...