Anyone who has ever played the computer game FIFA for an extended period of time will no doubt have heard former Arsenal striker Alan Smith furiously expunge the catchphrase, “Well his teammates have taken to calling him snowy, on account of how quickly he’s settled”, referencing any new signing who makes a positive impact for your club of choice. For most new acquisitions this phrase is extremely hyperbolic, for Kris Commons it was entirely apt.
It is hard to think of a player that has made a more immediate impact for the Hoops than the portly midfield schemer. Drafted in from Derby County in January 2011, for a scarcely believable bargain price of just 300K, Commons managed to score on his League Cup debut, the 4-1 victory against Aberdeen. Shortly after he scored on his home league debut against eternal rivals Rangers in a rampant 3-0 display. Sandwiched in between those two dazzling feats was the crucial goal in a 2-2 Scottish Cup draw inside Ibrox, a result that force a replay that Celtic would go on to win. These acts were made all the more impressive when you consider the fact that Rangers were rumoured to be desperate to acquire Commons’ signature.
Between his arrival in 2011 and the end of the 2015 campaign, it was hard to make a case for any other player having more influence inside Parkhead, sure Hooper bagged goals with startling regularity and Wanyama, Forster and Van Dijk were sold for mountainous profits, but for a sheer, unwavering knack for deciding the flow and outcome of games, that crown must surely rest atop of Commons’ head.
Fans may differ in their opinions of the defining moment or stat that surmises the playmakers time at the club. For many it would be his 13/14 season where he scored an envious 27 goals from 34 games, earning him both the player’s and writer’s player of the year awards. For me the defining moment comes at the conclusion of the 12-13 Champions League group phase. Having already dispatched giants Barcelona in legendary fashion, Celtic were in the rarefied position of needing a home win against the already eliminated Spartak Moscow to all but secure passage into the elimination stage. In a tense, cagey affair the sides remained locked at 1-1. With hope beginning to fade, and the feeling that the heroics displayed throughout the tournament thus far were all in vain, Celtic were awarded a penalty with just 10minutes remaining. The chance to usher the Hoops into Europe’s upper echelons was as opportunity too good to pass up, indeed one that all but the most stoic of fans would have though fanciful. As such the pressure must have been suffocating. The explosive manner in which he dispatched the penalty, in off the crossbar, belied the gravity of the situation. In that moment, Commons’ reputation as a fan favourite was solidified, for me at least.
Sadly, for many, Commons’ most memorable moment stood out in stark focus for all the wrong reasons. Another European competition, this time in the often-derided Europa League. Trailing Norwegians Molde 3-1, Commons was substituted. Clearly bewildered to the point of fury, Commons, visibly and wildly upset, was seen shouting and balling at the much-maligned Ronny Deila and his coaching staff. For some it was a simple demonstration of his frustrations at not being able to do more for the masses of fans that had made the expensive trip to Scandinavia. For others, it was no more than an act of petty insubordination. A power-play against a manager whose last wish would have been yet another dissenting voice echoing in the background. Everyone though, was united in the feeling that this was the point in which Commons had begun the downward spiral of his career. Already playing second fiddle to Stefan Johansen, and looking more cumbersome and injury-prone by the day, it was clearly the palpable beginning of the end.
Commons, despite possessing as much natural ability as anyone in Scotland, has been unable to force himself upon Brendan Rodgers’ rampant squad, clearly unsuited to the pressing style deployed in the 4-3-3 formation. It now seems abundantly clear that the playmaker will be allowed to reunite with former gaffer Neil Lennon at Hibs, under the guise of an emergency loan deal.
Personally, I would like to thank Commons for his goals, tricks, effortless demeanour and conveying the feeling that he genuinely enjoyed playing with the famous green and white hoops emblazoned across his chest.
After such a storied time at the club it is only fair that we wish Commons all the luck in the world. An Indian Summer in Easter Road is the least this fan favourite deserves.