After a bad day, it’s always nice to have some good news, and the news today, that Callum McGregor has become the latest Celtic player to commit to Project Brendan, by signing a new four year contract with the club, is as welcome as it was unexpected.
I had no idea we were in negotiations with the kid over a new deal, but he’s got one and it ties him to us for the immediate future.
As pleasing as it was to see Scott Brown get his contract and as delighted as we all were to see Jozo commit, this one is somehow more satisfying than those others, including the one year extension signed by Armstrong.
The reason I mention Armstrong specifically is that during our long, dragged out summer, someone asked me who would get Celtic’s goals from midfield if he was to leave, and I answered “Callum” without a moment’s hesitation. And that made me think.
Cause Callum McGregor was one of the players who appeared to have no future here when Brendan rolled into town.
I thought he looked out of his depth in Ronny’s team, which was a clear symptom of his being played woefully out of position as a holding midfielder.
He seemed like a guy who clearly had bags of talent but who you could go old and grey waiting for all the bits to coalesce.
Under Brendan, he was given a second chance.
Some thought a last chance.
Playing him in his natural position made a difference, sure, but there was more than that – there has always been more than that – to his amazing rise.
Callum is a model pro. He is a hard worker. He never shirks responsibility.
When asked to play in such an odd role, to which he was manifestly unsuited, he didn’t bitch or moan as many in the modern game like to when taken out of their comfort zone … Callum saw a chance just to be in the team at all and he made it work.
Even on his bad days we could forgive him because the kid never gave up.
He offered 100% each and every time.
And when opportunity knocked, and Brendan offered him a chance to show what he could do, playing his natural role, he seized it … but first the manager, in an effort to decode the Ronny Deila strategy, tried to play him where the Norwegian had.
Brendan must surely have seen what was readily apparent to us all, that Callum had a different skill-set than that, but he would also have seen a selfless footballer who gave everything for the team.
What a credit Callum is to himself and to the club. He is the proof for any kid out there who wants to make it in the game that all the hard graft and effort will pay off if you’re dedicated and you grab the moment when it’s presented to you.
The midfield is the most crowded part of the Celtic team; somehow he managed to push his way in there and cement a place as an integral part of it. That takes more than just skill. There is a mental toughness to Callum too which has got him through those frustrating times and made him a better player.
He is not a complete player; there is work to do, but he is a Celtic fan and this is where he belongs.
Over the next two years I expect to see him get better and better, until he’s one of the first names on Brendan’s team sheet every week.
Congratulations on your new deal, Callum, and we all look forward to your continuing success at our football club.
This Family would be less without you.