Ok I’ll admit I have more or less checked out of the current weird restarted football leagues throughout Europe. I wish I could enjoy it more but something about the whole thing has just felt ‘off’. The piped in crowd noise, the shouts of the players and coaches, the knowledge that this possibly shouldn’t be happening at all but is being done not out of sporting integrity or a bid to ‘raise our spirits’ but out of a necessity to fulfill a financial obligation. Thankfully, Celtic have made everything feel a bit more ‘real’ again by lurching into one of our famed goalkeeping crises. Just like the good old days!
A few short weeks ago we had Fraser Forster who had been utterly revitalised following his truncated loan season – everything seemed to point to him staying – at the very least for another year. Then we had two very capable backups in Craig Gordon and Scott Bain. Smash cut forward to now and the current number 1 and most senior goalkeeper at the club is Bain, Gordon was offered reduced terms and the likelihood of a place on the bench, at best, so he returned to Hearts, the kicker was Forster’s apparent U-turn on learning that, actually, now that he’s been rehabilitated they might quite like to have him back and give him a few games. So, as things stand, he’s not coming back and that leaves us with quite the gap to fill.
In this, the year of the potential 10, I am sure Neil Lennon did not envisage having to replace his goalkeeper at short notice. Frustratingly, last season was possibly Forster’s best for us in his two spells here and his best personal season in a number of years as his form had utterly deserted him in his last two years in England. Football is football and money talks but it is still a little deflating to lose him for the chance at ‘maybe’ being number 1 for a mid-table EPL club. He had fit back in so seamlessly, now we have a gamble to take on who to replace him with.
As much as I love the holy goalie, Artur is probably a little too old and rusty from his sweet gig on Bournemouth’s bench the last few years. David Marshall has also been mentioned and he’d be a safe if unspectacular choice. Joe Hart’s name has popped up too but his decline in recent years has been remarkable and that might just be asking a bit too much of Stevie Woods. We have also, apparently, asked about the AEK Athens keeper Vasilis Barkas who would cost around £5m. I can’t profess to watch much Greek football but the fact that his club want actual money for him whereas everyone else on the list would be free probably makes this the least likely move.
It wasn’t all bad on the Southampton front as they have been good enough to loan us Elyounessi for another season and the prospect of him fully fit, for the entire campaign is a genuinely exciting one. He’s another who fit in to the team almost immediately and aside from the goals and assists is a diligent worker, a good get and it means we don’t need to put too much pressure on Mikey Johnston and risk burning him out like we did with Kieran Tierney. In general, the squad seems settled though there’s always the lurking spectre of a gigantic bid for French Eddie which currently makes every transfer window a jittery prospect.
Celtic begin their pre-season games soon, ideally this would have been with a first choice keeper in tow. For now we just have to hope that the club makes the right call or that Southampton or Forster have a change of heart. The whole affair lays bare the risk we take with loan deals and the lack of security is something we’ll have to get used to if we continue with those kinds of deals (we invariably will). Wages in England remain on a whole other stratosphere than what we could offer and even if a player loves it here, you’ll do well to find one who loves it enough they’d take a 50% pay cut to stay here.
Eoin Coyne was born and raised in Dublin and studied print journalism back when that was a thing. Aside from blethering on about Celtic he can often be found at Richmond Park bemoaning another poor St. Pat’s performance. Once saw Tony Cascarino score a goal for Celtic. Temporary stand survivor.
Terrible twitter is @toomanybigwords