This is the third article I’ve written on the Craig Gordon story in two days; yesterday I said it wouldn’t be a shock if he was sold. Then I had to write a piece on Chelsea’s derisive opening offer, of £3 million for an international goalkeeper. Ridiculous.
Today some of the hacks are stirring the soup, with Roger Grieve from The Sun the lead-off hitter suggesting that Gordon’s head has been turned by the move and the offer of the big bucks, and wants a sit-down with the Celtic management team to discuss it. Grieve even threw in the old “Before he signed for Celtic he trained at Murray Park” line, as if the subtext – that of a player with no real loyalty to us – wasn’t clear enough.
I have no idea whether the story contains even a kernel of truth. I don’t particularly care.
The “source” who allegedly spoke to the paper was labelled one of the “player’s advisers” and I have little doubt that such individuals are interested in a deal because they can smell EPL money and the promise of a hefty commission. It doesn’t mean the player is.
These “crunch talks” could, themselves, be little more than Craig sitting down to ask if the interest was real and what it represented to the club and to him. To ask for clarification on his own future role at Celtic Park.
That, under the circumstances which surrounded him early in the season, would be more than a reasonable reaction to these stories.
Either way I am not panicking and Celtic won’t be either.
Even if Grieve has the story 100% right, and the nuances are not simply a Sevconite journalist indulging in wishful thinking – many at his paper were amongst a handful of hacks who picked Warburton’s squad of OAP and English lower league rejects to win the title – I wonder how many at Parkhead would be overly concerned.
Chelsea have been told that a £3 million offer isn’t going to cut it. They have the money to come in with something more. If they get to £5 million I wonder how many inside Celtic would find that hard to turn down. Gordon is 32, not old for a goalkeeper but at the age where a player has probably improved as much as he’s going to. He has 18 months left on his deal, and the manager has already signed a player for his position who, it was made clear at the time, was being brought in to challenge him for the jersey.
It is to Craig’s credit that he warded that challenge off. Some of his performances for Celtic have been little short of brilliant. As a shot stopper he can pull of miracles. But there are parts of his game which induce anxiety, and Brendan is by no means blind to that.
De Vries is two years older than Gordon, so he’s clearly not the long term answer either. Logan Bailly is a guy who I would walk past in the street; his continued presence at Celtic Park is baffling as he doesn’t appear in the plans at all. But he is younger than both and clearly capable. But overall he isn’t going to be the guy between the sticks five years from now either. Leo Fasan is kicking his heels at Celtic Park, for his own good that guy ought to leave.
As I said yesterday, if we were still in Europe it wouldn’t even be up for debate; you do not sell one of your starting eleven whilst still playing for those stakes. But the SPL title race is pretty much over. The treble is still to play for, of course, but if De Vries and Bailly couldn’t be trusted between the sticks for domestic games neither belongs at Celtic Park.
I don’t want to see Craig Gordon leave. Not at the moment. I think, ultimately, there are better keepers out there, younger keepers, who we could organise the defensive side of the team around for the next five years and beyond, but at the moment Craig is the number one because he’s the best in the country. Period.
And you don’t sell a guy like that without knowing what the long term option is.
But £5 million would be awfully hard to turn down for a guy the manager’s not 100% sure about and who might find himself sitting on the bench anyway.
If Craig wants to go then we shouldn’t stand in his way, not for that kind of money. If he wants to stay then he will. We don’t need the cash and couldn’t spend it on a replacement in this window anyway. Either way, I suspect nobody at Parkhead will lose sleep.
If the media wants to stir trouble up, surely they’ve got better than this?