The Celtic Way’s Ryan McGinlay answers some of YOUR questions, posed through social media platforms X and Facebook…

Q: Do you think Callum McGregor should be dropped?

A: I’ve been a vocal critic of the captain this season, on both the morning briefings and in some of my pieces throughout the campaign. This is because of the quality that Celtic’s number 42 possesses, an ability to completely run a game in the busy engine room of midfield. Admittedly, there have been quite a few false dawns concerning McGregor, especially after games against Rangers in September and January respectively. His biggest issue this season has been that of consistency, as he has failed to reach the levels shown in Glasgow Derbies on a regular basis. This may be down to his position, which may call for a return to the side for Tomoki Iwata, who has been named on the bench for the past couple of games. By playing Iwata in the defensive midfield role, you can free up the captain to roam around the park and influence the attacking side of the game more. Whether you like it or not, he will not be dropped – especially under Brendan Rodgers – so the next best scenario is to move him to where he played his best football, coincidentally under the same man back in 2016-19. Regardless, he has to get back into gear, as Celtic face a tough end to the season, even more so now that they’re playing catch-up with Rangers. Here’s hoping he kicks on from here.

Q: What are the realistic expectations for a Joe Hart replacement at the club?

A: Big shoes (and gloves) to fill, that’s for sure. On my checklist, Celtic should be shopping for a younger goalkeeper who can keep shots out and play passes with relative ease to his outfield players. Younger does not necessarily mean a 19-year-old ‘project’, but a 24-27-year-old who has experience in the game but wants to take it up a notch in playing for a big team, if they have not done so already. I don’t want the Vasilis Barkas experiment to put the club off signing foreign goalkeepers if they feel that they're good enough to come in. This is a position that I would hope is rectified before pre-season even starts, to give Celtic’s new number-one a clear run at acclimatising to his new team and role. Exciting times for the defence, but the club will be thankful for all of Hart’s efforts over his three seasons up north.

Q: Why are the current crop of players not good enough, and why were replacements not brought in during the January transfer window?

A: This is a tough one to answer, as it puzzles me also. You have to remember that the spine of the team – of which some are injured – won a treble last season under Ange Postecoglou, so it shows that some are up to the grade or have shown it in the recent past. For whatever reason, a lot of the signings made in the summer have not worked out, with many struggling to find a positive contributor at all now thanks to the downfall of Luis Palma’s form since the winter break. Some signings have left in search of game-time such as Kwon Hyeok-kyu and Marco Tilio, whilst others are not fancied by the manager like Gustaf Lagerbielke and potentially Odin Thiago Holm, who has dropped out of the squad completely recently.

Not to sound like a broken record, but it is notoriously difficult to get business completed in the January window, as has been shown to be true when looking at the lack of done deals around the world during this time. That being said, Celtic are not a poor club and could have backed Rodgers further if they wanted to, with the club only shelling out money for one of their two signings in Nicolas Kuhn. Adam Idah has looked capable in spells, but the disaster at the left-back position has cost Celtic dear already, thanks to the injury of Greg Taylor and the need for Alexandro Bernabei to step in. You get the feeling that even a Thiago Aroujo or Owen Beck would have been seen as upgrades on the Argentinian full-back. With Taylor back now, this is not as big a problem, though it is an area that the club will need to address going forward, likely in the summer.

Q: Who bought the players that have been brought in by the club?

A: I will not claim to know the ins and outs of the day-to-day running of the football club, though Mark Lawwell will play a major role in the identification of players that best suit Rodgers’ style of play. The manager has said on more than one occasion that he has the final say on whether a player joins the club, so by all accounts he is okaying the targets that Lawwell and his team of scouts identify for potential transfer moves. With Celtic’s success rate dropping season on season in terms of sellable assets, this is a system that has to improve, and fast. Postecoglou’s success rate must continue to be striven for, despite the Australian’s departure last summer.

Q: Would you rather lose playing ‘the Celtic way’, or win ugly?

A: I’d like Celtic to be somewhere in the middle, winning football games but with a bit of style, not unlike Postecoglou’s ideology. Unfortunately at the moment, the club are sometimes failing to do either, though their one consistency this season has been an inconsistency in their performance levels, which poses problems as the side delves deeper into the business end of the campaign. I do not think the two are necessarily exclusive, as Celtic playing well tends to lead to a comfortable victory, given the quality of the teams they face. If they drop below their standards, however, then it gives their opponents a chance, something we've seen on more than one occasion this season under Rodgers. Of course, sometimes you have to win ugly, given the nature of the game’s proceedings, but Celtic must strive for perfection, both in results and performances that contribute to said results. That starts this weekend against Motherwell at Fir Park, as the club cannot afford to drop any more points from now until the end of the season whatsoever.

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