They say a week is a long time in football. But if you had told anyone a little over 48 hours ago that Scott Allan would be a Celtic player by the end of the week they would’ve scarcely believed you – they’d probably have laughed at you. The 23 year-old midfielder has been the subject of an intense transfer saga over the past month or so, with Hibs’ Championship rivals Rangers having had several bids turned down in their pursuit of the former Dundee United man. However, in a quite astounding turn of events he is now the latest addition to the Celtic squad.
As is so often the case in football, there is a lot of misguided beliefs about how these things work. There will be those who reckon this has been a dastardly plan cooked up between the various actors involved in the deal to spite another actor previously involved in the deal. There will be those who cannot comprehend the fact that a guy who grew up supporting the arch rival of Celtic has just signed for Celtic. There is a wide range of things (and people) involved in the completion of a transfer in modern day football. It’s not as simple or as straight forward as many think. However, despite the initially random nature of this deal, with a deeper consideration of the circumstances much of it makes very good sense.
Hibernian had an unhappy player who no longer wanted to be there. They did not want to sell him to a direct rival for the Championship title – a team who they already appear to be quite a bit behind on the park. They also had wanted to reacquire a player they had on-loan from Celtic last season. Celtic, fully aware of this situation, have rightly seen the potential in Scott Allan and are happy to allow Dylan McGeough to return to Easter Road. Hibs would also like a central midfield replacement for Allan, as McGeough is naturally a winger, and Celtic were happy to oblige by offering Liam Henderson’s services on-loan. This means Henderson will get first-team experience at a good club, close to home (unlike Rosenborg), and will return to a Celtic a better player for it. I sense a lot of trepidation about Henderson’s temporary departure among Celtic supporters but we have to remember that he is only 19 and would have been no more than a bit-part player for Celtic this season. All of this results in Hibs getting rid of their unhappy player, not to a direct rival, Celtic recruiting a good Scottish player, facilitating the departure of Dylan McGeough – who had become surplus to requirements – and Liam Henderson gaining valuable experience. Everyone – well, almost everyone – is a winner.
Aside from the off-the-pitch soap opera which I’m sure will rumble on, I believe Celtic have a acquired a good footballer. A good, relatively-young, Scottish footballer. It’s great to see the club finally signing good Scottish talent rather than gambling on players from around the world on the off chance we’ll land another Victor Wanyama. As I’ve said before, for every Victor Wanyama there are three or four Derk Boerigtter’s, Temmu Pukki’s and Amido Balde’s. The current recruitment strategy is undoubtedly a better one.
I can count in one hand the number of times I’ve watched Scott Allan for 90 minutes. Here’s what I think; He is a better passer of the ball than Scott Brown – never going to take his place but the point stands -, he has more about him than Tom Rogic, he is a better central midfielder than Charlie Mulgrew and he gives us a good option in that area of the park.
There seems to be a misconception among Celtic fans that we have a plethora of central midfielders. What we have is a plethora of 10’s and wingers, and wingers who can play as 10’s. As we’ve seen over the past week or so, Brown’s absence has meant Johansen has filled in as one of the deeper two alongside Bitton. Stefan Johansen is not as effective here as he is in any of three positions behind the striker. Scott Allan gives us a great cover option in the absence of Brown or Bitton. He’s not going to walk into the team or take us to a whole new level but he is a good addition.
He has also made a brave, professional decision which he deserves credit for. Unlike the majority of football fans, I don’t think that the team you supported as a boy holds much significance when you become a professional. Fans are irrational. Professionals have to be rational. It’s no longer a hobby in which you hold one team sacred. It is your life, your work, and your livelihood. You don’t make decisions based on blind, biased emotion, you make decisions based on what is best for your career. Scott Allan has joined the strongest team in the country, a team which is one two-legged tie away from competing in the competition which is the pinnacle of European football. He has made the best move for his career. Everything else has faded to insignificance.
Welcome to Celtic Scott, we hope your stay here is long and successful.
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