Probably for the first since he joined the club in 2016 Brendan Rodgers is disappointed in the people above him at Celtic.
The McGinn saga proves that timing is everything.
I would wager that if Celtic had offered the same deal three or four weeks ago then the combative midfielder might have been training with his new teammates at Lennoxtown today instead of Birmingham.
Yesterday I was in receipt of conflicting narratives from Easter Road and Parkhead about how the move for McGinn to Celtic had broken down.
Brendan wanted the midfielder as part of a long-term strategy.
A term that the Irishman often uses is “succession planning” and McGinn was identified as an important part of that process.
I am aware of a player that Rodgers identified in the summer.
He is a left-sided centre-back who had played in the world cup.
Let’s just say the deal concluding side of the operation dallied and Celtic lost the player who could have been signed for £3m.
It is safe to say that Rodgers’ frustrations with those above him at Celtic do not start and end with the McGinn shambles.
The Brendan’s mood would not have been lifted by the result last night.
It is now very much advantage AEK.
The second leg in the oppressive heat of Athens will be especially difficult for Rodgers’ men.
Moreover, the Irishman will be fully aware that the vital away goal was a product of some work experience defending.
Beware of Greeks accepting gifts…
Now there is the real likelihood that Celtic will be playing in the Europa League this season.
If that happens then tough choices will have to be made.
The financial structure of Celtic is no secret and it is based on a binary choice:
- Access Champions League revenue.
- Sell a major asset (e.g. Van Dijk, Wanyama).
There is no realistic third choice.
With either (1) or (2) in play then Celtic can sustain a football budget that is beyond the reach of any other club in Scotland.
The question this morning is this:
Is there anything that could that could have been done earlier to shore up Celtic’s backline?
If John McGinn was a Celtic player he would not have been in the team last night.
However, failure to sign him does point to the possibility that there is a deficiency in the recruitment process.
The Irishman took the job in 2016 on the basis that if he wanted a player and it was within budget then others would get the deal over the line.
Yesterday, the McGinn saga reminded me of the Steven Fletcher affair of January 2009.
Of course, there is a common denominator in both of those recruitment failures.
For the avoidance of doubt, Brendan Rodgers is not that nice Ronny Deila chap.
The Irishman can drive a hard bargain and he expects others to keep to their side of one.
Some folk at Celtic might be about to find that out.