Date: 6th January 2017 at 11:15am
Written by:

Let’s start with this, with what I am sure is an unintentionally hilarious paragraph from our national “paper of record”.

If you’re standing, sit.

And don’t have anything in your mouth when you read this, because you will spit it all over everything.

“Warburton is working within tight financial constraints,” an Ibrox source said. “Before the window opened, he made it clear to the board he needed three new players in January. He’s now hoping to get two, while expecting to be able to afford just the one. If that’s the case, then Toral would be unquestionably his first pick.”

First, Warburton is not working under “tight financial constraints” at all, at least not compared to the other teams in the league.

This is one that always makes me laugh; if the reason we’re so far ahead is money then they should be equally out in front of the rest of the teams in the league. They could give lessons in what operating under “tight financial constraints” actually means.

So he wanted three signings. But would settle for two. Whilst accepting that there might only be one, and that a loan signing of a “kid” from Arsenal. A 21 year old kid, by the way, two years older than the teenager we’ve paid £2.5 million for but without the European football experience.

I can hear the wailing now of people who will say “Aye if you ignore the fact he’s playing in La Liga …” and I applaud them for their keen understanding. He’s played six games for one of their relegation battlers, this after a career that’s consisted of one loan spell at Brentford and another at Birmingham. And Granada have him on loan for the season … if they’d happily tear up his contract and let him move to Ibrox that should suggest something.

“Maybe he just didn’t settle in Spain,” someone said to me last night, by way of explanation.

That would be unfortunate, since he’s Spanish.

If he can’t settle there, one wonders how he’s managed to eke out any kind of career in England.

On top of that, although the Scottish hacks said the deal was done he’s apparently decided to keep the club waiting for his decision; he clearly knows what Warburton only appears dimly aware of. That his career was nudging steadily upwards and that a move to Ibrox would not enhance it in the eyes of too many people.

This has nothing to do with Scottish football itself; yesterday’s reports that Dembele has been the subject of a £20 million bid – rejected by Celtic – have created a storm of online opinion and some of it has been of the sort that talks down our national game. I said here weeks ago, and then was delighted to find Brendan echoing similar sentiments, that market value has nothing to do with the league in which someone plays; it is based on potential and that reveals itself in any number of ways, including how someone responds to pressure and how they play on the big stage. Moussa has done it in the Champions League, and with all our media hype over the games at Celtic Park, Hampden and Ibrox they’ve somehow managed to convince an English audience that those were big occasions too … and he’s scored in them all.

Those were certainly heightened occasions, but Moussa reacted brilliantly in the pressure of all of them. He can perform when it matters. He can find the net in those games where the chaos swirls around him and a cool head is needed.

He has the potential to be a huge star, and those guys don’t go for the kind of derisory money that we got for Wanyama and Van Dijk. To those who say we’ll not get more than we did for those guys, consider that Fulham – who we bought the player from – sold Patrick Roberts to Manchester City, as a reserve, for more than we got for either player.

We sold ourselves short both times. We know it.

On top of that, people tend not to look at those deals in context. They should. Celtic is now a club whose judgement on these matters is taken seriously. Trusted. We know exactly what Moussa is worth and don’t have to settle for less, because there is interest from across Europe. The fact we’ve already been responsible for developing a number of stars who’ve gone on to command astronomical fees improves our chances of getting such a fee for Moussa.

And we’re not soliciting bids. We turned this one down whether it came as a bona-fide offer or something more discreet (and which West Ham’s own website stupidly made public; I bet neither club is particularly happy at the writer) in spite of the big number.

Because we’re not in a position where we either need or want to sell this player.

The £2.5 million move for Eboue is only the first of this window; rumours continue to swirl that Henri Lansbury, the talented ex-Arsenal academy player now at Notts Forest, who Brendan has coveted for years, will be next. I hope those rumours are true.

Lansbury is a fantastic footballer, one of a number down there who has been over-looked by huge clubs in spite of possessing a great talent. A little bit like Scott Sinclair, who’s one of the most exciting signings we’ve made in years.

So whilst we’re turning down eight digit sums for a guy we bought for a modest six figures, and splashing more money on a teenager than other clubs in Scotland have spent on their entire squads the press would have you believe Warburton is preparing for austere times.

Compared to us, he is. But comparisons with us aren’t fair or appropriate; we leave his pitiful NewCo in the dust.

Compared to the rest of Scottish football the idea that the Sevco manager is battling austerity, that he has a chairman who is “keeping a vice like grip on the club’s finances” is an insult.

Because Sevco’s wage bill dwarfs that of every other team but one, and none of those other teams ever complain about it and the media doesn’t howl from the rooftops on their behalf about how such a spending gap affects the credibility of the sport here.

I understand why their fans hate the West of Scotland press.

They earn that contempt every day.