• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Frank McGarvey: Celtic need to stop letting their best players leave

THE identity of the new Celtic manager is still to be established but his remit is already understood.

Celtic can only be competitive in Europe, argues Frank McGarvey, by keeping hold of the likes of Fraser Forster and Virgil van Dijk. Picture: SNS
Celtic can only be competitive in Europe, argues Frank McGarvey, by keeping hold of the likes of Fraser Forster and Virgil van Dijk. Picture: SNS

He must win the title by a healthy points margin, look to add a cup or two, and do all he can to guide the team into the group stage of the Champions League.

He must also be accepting that his best players will be sold most years and replaced at a fraction of the cost. It is not the exact job description that will be stuck under the nose of whomever ends up succeeding Neil Lennon but it will not be far off it.

Frank McGarvey believes that it is time to tweak the model. McGarvey speaks as a former Celtic player of some repute - 113 goals bagged over five years, two league titles, two Scottish Cups and one League Cup - but also offers the viewpoint of the ordinary fan. The 58 year-old's cv also includes spells with St Mirren, 10 months at Liverpool, and stints with Queen of the South and Clyde towards the end of his playing days, but he is unashamedly a Celtic man.

When he talks about punters putting in the hours at work to buy season tickets to watch the team, he is almost certainly speaking from personal experience.

McGarvey blames a sense of disenchantment among a section of the Celtic support on two things. One is a lack of genuine competition in the SPFL Premiership, something the club can do nothing about.

The other is the inevitable departure most years of the best players in the squad, usually to clubs in England. This, McGarvey feels, is disheartening for the fans and unhelpful for the manager.

"It annoyed me last year that the team had just come off a season where they had got into the last 16 of the Champions League and made £12m for Victor Wanyama and they still sold Gary Hooper, their top goalscorer," he said.

"They've got to have a balance. They can't keep asking the Celtic supporters to buy season tickets when they're selling their best players every year. That's not right.

"The board and Dermot Desmond [Celtic's major shareholder] have said they won't throw money at [improving the team] - the Celtic fans aren't asking them to throw money at it. They just want them to stop letting the best ones go every summer. They're getting into the Champions League every season.

"Surely that's enough money to pay the wages and all the bills for the year? But they seem to be more interested in money rather than keeping the Celtic supporters happy. That upsets me. They don't have to break the bank. But last year they bought [Teemu] Pukki and [Amido] Balde for around the £2m to £3m mark and that's cost them money.

"So there's got to be a balance. You get the Champions League money in and maybe sell a player if you're in trouble. But at the moment Celtic aren't even making an effort to try to get a team in the Champions League. Any player that's worth any kind of money they just sell.

"The fans are out working to pay for tickets and to take their kids to the games and they want to be entertained. That's the bottom line. If they don't get entertained, which they've not been recently, then why should they keep coming back?

"Celtic have done well but it's been nothing games. Who wants to watch nothing games?"

It was only last month that Lennon chose to step down but McGarvey felt it was a decision a year in the making. "They sold Hooper last year and that was the beginning of the end," he added.

"I was sickened by that as well. Their top scorer and they let him go for £5m, then buy in two guys for a total of £5m who can't score goals to replace him. That's not being clever.

"Neil helped [chief executive] Peter Lawwell become a good accountant as he was bringing in a lot of money. But Peter Lawwell wasn't making Neil Lennon a good manager. He kept selling all his best players. You can't do that, there has to be a balance."

Frank McGarvey was helping promote Saturday's match between a team of Old Firm legends and the Royal Regiment of Scotland to raise money for Erskine, the veterans' care charity - tickets are available from www.zeroalphafoundation.org/events.html

Contextual targeting label: 
Football

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

237785