Date: 14th March 2017 at 2:10pm
Written by:

It was Jon Bon Jovi who asked “Who says you can’t go home?”

There is, indeed, only one place they call Aiden “one of their own.” This hometown boy has had his rolling stone years, including playing in Russia. And if there’s only one place left he wants go then who says he can’t, won’t or shouldn’t?

This talk surfaces every now and again. Aiden left us as one of the hottest young talents in Europe. Had we signed Aiden from elsewhere I don’t know a single Celtic fan who have grudged him his opportunity to test himself against better players in a better league, and Russia, at the time, was filled with clubs spending colossal sums of money. It still is, but its profile has fallen in light of what’s gone on elsewhere.

At the time it was a Hell of a move.

It was ambitious, it was bold, and it was a gigantic risk which isn’t always appreciated. Look at how few British based players have the stones to go and play abroad, in a country where the climate is different, the culture is different and where English isn’t the main language or one the majority of people speak. You could count those guys on one hand, and I’m not even talking about the small number good enough to move to Spain.

Aiden doesn’t get enough credit for taking that chance, for expanding his horizons in that way. Did it work? Arguable. He’s certainly made enough money to live comfortably for the rest of his life, but in footballing terms I think you have to call it a bust.

A lot of our fans remain very bitter about the parting of the ways, and it’s always like that when a player who was moulded at the club ups and leaves.

I was angry myself when it came to Aiden.

In fact, I thought we should have sold him sooner when he started making noises about his contract and other stuff. When Gordon Strachan dropped him for a crucial Rangers game the writing was on the wall, but he got back into the team and knuckled down. He suffered as much as any player from the stifling nature of the Tony Mowbray experiment, and showed only a few flashes of the magic under Neil. He was always going to go.

I’ve mellowed, over time. I appreciate that this kid had wanderlust.

I get that he believed his own hype to a certain extent; there was a lot of it, and much of it richly deserved. He never fully developed at Celtic; indeed, in the last two year progress seemed to have stagnated, but on his day he had a wondrous natural talent which was obvious to everyone who watched him play. It was fair play for the kid to want to take a shot at finding somewhere he could more properly hone his abilities. I get that now. I’m in a more forgiving place.

Aiden’s time at Everton is just about done.

He’s been on loan at Sheffield Wednesday and now is at Preston.

Found his level? Some cynics say that.

But he wouldn’t be the first hugely talented footballer to end up at clubs where they don’t know how to utilise his playing style.

Writing off professional footballers as “past it” is a lazy media game. Some thought that way about Scott Sinclair; we’ve proven that talent sometimes needs a little nurturing, and he has clearly come on leaps and bounds through the simple fact of being given an extended run of games in a team where confidence is high. Aiden is 30, not 50. These should be the peak years for a top player, and some thank he’s already past his best.

If so that would be a tragic waste of an awesome ability because he’d be the first to admit that he hasn’t reached the heights as he’d hoped for, and he hasn’t produced the goods on the biggest stages of all, in major competitions. Aiden is a player whose career opportunities are receding fast. Does that leave the door open for one last hurrah? For a shock return to the club which made him, and where he enjoyed his finest years as a player?

Brendan Rodgers is all about second chances.

He’s given them to enough players in the current Celtic squad. James Forrest is one of them. I’d have said it was as near certain as anything could be that my namesake was done at Parkhead before Brendan came through the doors. His career revival under Brendan is as extraordinary as anything we’ve seen happen at the club since the manager came in. In recent months Dedryk Boyata has come in from the cold too, and Stuart Armstrong has never looked more like a natural part of the Celtic team.

But do those second chances extend as far as players who’ve already left Celtic?

It’s not his job to rehabilitate the careers of those who’ve been and gone. I know for a fact that Aiden McGeady would walk to Glasgow if a contract was on offer at Parkhead, and it wouldn’t need to be a budget-busting one either. As a smarter man than me once wrote, “This is business, not personal.” Sentiment don’t come into it. Aiden would need to offer something pretty special before Brendan or anyone else at Celtic Park could recommend any type of deal.

Patrick Roberts will be offered a chance to stay at Celtic Park. Ironically enough, what might mitigate against him doing so is that Brendan doesn’t’ rate him as highly as Ronny did, or as numerous pundits and Scottish football fans do. I think the kid is a phenomenal talent but I also think he’d need to toughen up somewhat, mentally and physically. I do have an inkling he’ll stay and next season we’ll see the player unleashed on Scottish football and Europe.

If it doesn’t though, is Aiden McGeady an option? This season he’s been at his most consistent, in game time, of any point in his career since his first year in Moscow. He’s fit and he’s playing every week, and doing well if all reports are accurate.

In the end it would be unlikely to be enough.

Brendan will have his own ideas about who to bring in and I don’t expect that our former winger will be on his short-list. If he was, would Celtic fans be happy with it? I think for most part there would be scepticism.

That’s only natural. We’re not a club who should be in the business of giving somebody one last big paid day, one last shot at the dream.

Before Brendan, I would have written a scathing editorial about such a decision, but if there’s one manager I’ve seen at Parkhead who could find, and perhaps even resurrect, the incredibly skilful player who left our club seven years ago as a youth in search of fame, fortune and glory it would be this guy. And it wouldn’t be expensive to find out.

Aiden McGeady wouldn’t be my first choice, and I strongly suspect he wouldn’t be Brendan’s either.

But a guy nearing what should be his peak, who would walk across broken glass for the opportunity, and who once possessed such a mesmeric talent and who, in the final years of his career has everything to prove … well it wouldn’t leave me pulling out my hair.

Maybe you can go home after all.