Celtic | A Squad Building Exercise | Part III

An article from our guest author – SI community member Sean1967, continuing this series on the site. I highly recommend his content as he has a very calculated and strategic management approach as well as a clear writing style, which make for an entertaining yet informative read. Make sure to follow Sean on twitter and check out his work🙂

Initially I was going to share my plans for scouting and staff recruitment, but I have yet to pass the first transfer window and have funds for compensation yet. Another point is that I should probably identify the type of players that I will be targeting.
 
Looking at the initial squad – just considering the starting XI – what I need long terms is the following;
 Goalkeeper
Right back
Centre midfielder x2
 
All of the players I will be looking to bring in are what you would consider complete players, along with one or two ‘specialists’. Goalkeepers should be first and foremost good shot-stoppers but good with the ball at their feet or at a level that can be improved. Defenders should be able to defend but good passing and vision would add to the squad.
 
My wingers should have pace and be able to cover the length of the pitch comfortably when playing with three at the back. I like well-rounded midfielders, but each should have a stand out quality that makes them unique, as well as a good playmaker. Up top I like to have a striker who can do it all, drop back, hold-up play and also deadly in the box.
 
There will be many factors behind decision making when signing a player as well as outlined above.
 

  • As stated in a previous post I will be avoiding the player search function, instead relying on my scouts and own real life knowledge of the game. To do this I will look to build an extensive scouting network as stated in Part I, this will be explained in more detail in the next post.
  • Player age will be a deciding factor. We won’t be paying for old rope. Key age range for the first team will be 20-24 with obviously some exceptions.
  • Career appearances and caps/youth caps. Players with more of these tend to be more developed already and first team ready.
  • Player personality will be a huge factor if a senior player – youth players will be brought in and moulded.
    Most importantly. Will they improve the starting XI or bench?

 
Transfer Activity (Budgets Disabled)
So far I have only brought in one player in Diego Poyet. This lad looks great, possibly a key player in the future in the playmaker role. He looks a certain improvement on Nir Biton and after a year out on loan should come back with some top-level appearances under his belt.

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A lot of deadwood left on loan to free up the wage budget and put them in the shop window. I purposely avoided sending u20 players out on loan as I would rather focus on selling the ones who won’t make it in January.

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A huge part of how successful this turns out will be down to the scouting team and how I utilize them. This is due to my reluctance to use the basic player search function, except for bosman deals and to see who is transfer listed. 
 
I play to expand the scouting department in phases.

  1. Scotland, UK and Ireland along with a Chief Scout being sent out on specific assignments.
  2. Scandinavia and Central Europe
  3. Eastern and Southern Europe
  4. The Americas and the Caribbean
  5. Africa/Asia/Oz

Each phase will be scouted slightly different form the last, I will go into this as I manage to recruit for these areas. As a general rule assignments will tend to last for 3 months.
 
Phase 1

  • Chief Scout will be sent out roaming in order to find a player with a specific skill-set ready for the first team. This will wait until I have a budget available as I want the best possible candidate.
  • Development league and the UEFA Youth League scout; John McGlynn will be my man on the ground at both the u20s and the UYL, he will also e tasked with scouting next opposition.
  • A scout looking for the most promising players in England; Michael Murphy will be on the hunt for the next Moussa Dembele to slip through the net down south.
  • Someone looking for first team ready players in UK and Ireland; David Moss is tasked with finding me first team ready players in the UK, focusing mainly on the Championship and Premiership.

 
The remaining phases will be carried out as and when scouts are identified but summary posts will follow. Another way of increasing global scope that I will be looking into is through affiliation. We already have informal partnerships in Ireland, NI and Mexico. I expanded this by requesting a club with successful youth development. 

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I had a few options from England, Romania and Spain but the Germans seemed like the best option. I plan on using them the way Chelsea use Vittese to blood in players.

  • 2 Bundesliga is playable so players send on loan will get opportunity to play
  • The standard of the league is probably better than SPFL
  • They have some talented youngsters in their side
  • We get a foothold in German football

Tactics seem to be working out well, the one tweak I have made though is dropping back to a DM and two CM. I have now just found out after all these years that starting formation represents your defensive shape.

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And other news…

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I added to our rather depleted backroom team with a host of additions, filling up most of the first team roles. More will come in over the course of the season, but for now I am happy. Mick Halsall comes in as Chief Scout and looks a steal at only £40k from Notts County, he has already been tasked with finding us a new CM. Phase 1 complete.

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I made a few more tweaks; instructing the CB and CF to play a shorter passing game. Slight increase in pass completion but sample to small to tell. Breezed through to the CL groups securing at least £15m in prize and TV money. Changed too many players in the Aberdeen game as the team was tired due to fixture congestion. 

First Rangers game finished 9-0, yes 9-0. It couldn’t have went any better, we dominated the match containing them in their own half. We had 14 SoT and managed 6 CCC to their ZERO.

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Being a Scottish side we don’t generate a great deal of revenue, in fact we rely heavily on both season ticket sales and UCL qualification. Prize money for the Scottish Premiership is terrible and TV rights even worse. However we have the advantage of a 60k seater stadium and a he fanbase. On the back of this we raised £19 million from season ticket sales.

Qualifying for the Champions League meant and extra £14.4 million in prize money – with a game to play and TV money still to come. Leaving us with a healthy bank balance. Due to this I am in no hurry to sell any key assets. 

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Being in such good financial health meant that there was funding available to improve the equality of the squad. The full amount will not be spent in January and an effort will be made to move a few players on to reduce the wage bill. Upon the news of my January war-chest I immediately stated to identify who fit my criteria for the players that my scouts found.

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I had a look at the players who will likely leave in January/July I decided that midfield will be the priority. But what do I want in a midfielder? Firstly the must be able to pass a ball. They must have high work rate/determination and be able to last a high intensity 90 minutes. This criteria left me with 3 players. In terms of personality they all fit what I am looking for and can fit the BBM and CM role.

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We went on a great run of form that seen us unbeaten domestically since the loss to Aberdeen, we won the League Cup, can still quality for the last 16 of the UCL and score 74 goals in 29 games. The highlights of the season so far being a 9-0 win over Rangers, 2-2 draw with Juve (conceding in the 89th) and 7-1 win over Spurs. All this sees us with a domestic treble available and 9 points clear with a game on hand.

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