Celtic isn't a feeder club for the dregs of West Brom
Another day and another negative article hits the newswires about Celtic, this time it isn’t a Daily Record journalist creating fake quotes but West Brom’s Technical Director criticising Neil Lennon over his treatment of Oliver Burke - while on loan at Celtic.
The 22-year-old was one of Brendan Rodgers’ last signings as Celtic manager when he made the move north of the border on loan during the January transfer window, along with PSG’s Timothy Weah.
And while he had a good enough start to his Celtic career, the £!5 million signing from RB Leipzig soon fell back into old ways and flattered to deceive as the Celtic closed, with Rodgers’ successor Neil Lennon preferring to bring through Celtic’s own youngsters than give more game time to West Brom’s most expensive dud.
Despite his lack of form and poor performances proving Neil Lennon was correct in the way he handled Burke, the West Brom technical director seems to think that Burke had a god given right to play in a Celtic jersey for every game.
Dowling said: “He won’t be going anywhere near Celtic with the current manager. We sent Olly to Celtic in good faith with Brendan Rodgers and Lee Congerton, there were some really good people up there that wanted to take Olly and wanted to play him.
“Once Brendan left to go to Leicester the treatment he got from the manager that’s in place now is something we don’t expect for one of our players. He won’t be going anywhere near Celtic FC. We currently have a new manager that’s excited to start working and looking at Olly.”
“We believe he’s got an opportunity back here with a new manager in place. Through no fault of his own he’s been bought twice for £15m.
“When West Brom bought him, look at the games he’d started, I think there was only 19 in his career. Nineteen games and you’ve been sold twice for £15m.
“There was big expectation when Olly came here. Naturally you’re going to get that when people pay that amount of money for you, but I don’t believe he really got the best chance to perform here.
“One minute he’s told he’s a right winger, next minute he’s a centre-forward then he couldn’t do that because he couldn’t play with his back to goal.”
As Dowling should know when a new manager is installed at a club, they select the players they believe or have faith to do a job for them. Lennon gave Burke plenty of chances to be THAT man to help Celtic cross the finishing line to win the club’s eighth title in a row and with a Scottish Cup Final victory - an historic treble treble - but he wasn’t up to the task.
Burke played 496 minutes across eight games in all competitions for Celtic under Neil Lennon, making six starts and scored the square root of fuck all goals. His final game for the Scottish champions being 45 minutes of the first half in the 2-1 win over Hearts where he was absolutely woeful being replaced at half time by Karamoko Dembele - who had an immediate impact on the players and the fans alike.
Following the match, Sky Sports pundit Andy Walker speaking about Oliver Burke, said: "I didn't notice him at all, Burke, in that first half. He comes with such a big reputation. I think he'll be one of a number of Celtic players who won't be here next season."
The 22-year-old also missed a plethora of sitters during his time at Celtic none more so against Livingston when he had rounded the keeper Liam Kelly before missing an open goal and being one-on-one with Rangers keeper Wes Foderingham in the final derby game of the season - with the goal beckoning, Burke hit his shot directly at the Rangers keeper in the 2-0 defeat at Ibrox.
West Brom have a bloody cheek saying anything about Celtic’s treatment of the Scotland international. Especially given the fact that four managers have worked with Burke since his move to the Hawthorns in August 2017 and he has amassed a grand total of four starts and 17 substitute appearances with the English Championship side. He has had as much game time at Celtic in one half of a season than he has had in nearly two years with the English club - yet Celtic and Neil Lennon are the bad guys in this scenario?
Burke’s form after the first few games under Brendan Rodgers was never going to warrant Celtic splashing any sort of cash on the midfielder - yet the player himself wanted to speak to his agent once his loan deal finished to ‘sort something out’ in regards to a move back to Celtic.
With Slaven Bilić West Brom’s sixth manager in the space of two years, maybe Burke will finally get a chance to play regularly for the Baggies - his performances at Celtic show that he will in all likelihood not make the grade but you never know. I have no ill-feeling towards Burke and hope that he gets his career back on track, but Dowling’s comments are a disgrace.
So before anyone at West Brom tries to act the billy big baws again with Celtic or Neil Lennon they need to get their basket case of a club in order first before standing on a pedestal claiming how one of their players was hard done by - especially when Celtic did more to progress the kids career than West Brom have ever done, including his international career.
Or could Dowling’s comments be linked to Celtic’s pursuit of their youngster Rekeem Harper? The 19-year-old is out of contract this summer and has been linked with moves to Celtic, Liverpool, Juventus and Spurs. But if Celtic sign the player then West Brom will only receive £235,000 in compensation, while if a move to another English club is forthcoming then the Professional Football Compensation Committee [PFCC] would determine the compensation fee - which could run into the millions - and with the Baggies stuck in the Championship for another year and debt-ladened as well as a Chinese owner that looks as dodgy as a Motherwell-born billionaire, they need all the money they can get. So I wouldn’t put it past the likes of Dowling to use Harper’s future footballing career for their own financial gain - even if that move is wrong for the kid.
Celtic have a wealth of young talent breaking into the first team now with Mikey Johnston, Ewan Henderson, Armstrong Oko Flex and Karamoko Dembele the latest Celtic Academy graduates to make that step up. Celtic fans would rather see them progress at the club than acting like a feeder club for the likes of West Brom and their dregs.