How Do We Stop The Hacks Unsettling Our Players? We Start Banning Them For It.

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The Sun today tried to unsettle James Forrest.

Look, let there be no doubt at all that this was the explicit intent behind the story which surfaced today about alleged interest from Russia.

Please note that this isn’t a bid that’s actually been made, more a bid that’s being “prepared.”

How long does it take to “prepare” a transfer bid anyway?

You call up a club, ask if the player is available and slink off when they tell you “no.”

Neil Lennon, knowing this, has slapped the Not For Sale At Any Price sign on him, in order to discourage further nonsense like this before it even starts.

Even this has provided fodder for the hacks to play their little games.

The Record has twisted his words to add Forrest to a so-called “Untouchables” list which now has the names of five footballers on it.

But the “list” doesn’t exist; it is an invention of the paper itself, the result of a throwaway series of comments the manager made about not wanting to sell key players.

As he did so he named Brown, Ajer, Simunovic and McGregor.

So of course, everyone else was, by definition, available.

You can see the thread of their thinking clearly.

It is bog roll quality stuff from them.

At no time did the manager create any such list, and The Record knows this full well.

The giveaway are some of the names not on that list; Ntcham, Rogic, Edouard, Christie. The manager has spoken and said no further key players will be sold, and I would stipulate that they and others tick that box. With the sale of Tierney, the board wouldn’t dare.

But this is The Record playing games. Did you notice the way they regurgitated The Sun’s story about Forrest? There was a time when these titles were in direct competition with each other; now they scramble about after the same disreputable rumours.

Before this window shuts they will have linked Edouard with a move somewhere else and in their defence they will point out that Lennon has never actually said he wasn’t for sale. He wasn’t on The Record’s phantom list, so he’s fair game.

The press is going to keep on making this kind of mischief. They will press this all the way to the final day, when the window shuts.

Even as we’re trying to bring players in, all the talk in the media is of who we might sell next. This is deliberate, and one of the reasons I’ll be forever pissed at Tierney is that he’s given them license to write that if we can’t keep Celtic born and bred players like him then it begs the question of who we can keep?

And this is the open sore they will be pounding on for the next few weeks.

There is a lot of mileage in the idea that we are a “selling club” – whatever that means in the window where the richest club in world football sold Romelu Lukaku and were under real pressure from another of their big players, Paul Pogba. It was the same window in which Arsenal’s captain agitated for, and got, a move and where Juventus only just hung onto their South American boy wonder Paulo Dybala after English interest and may sell him yet.

The whole of the media has said that Lennon has “rejected” the Russia move … well in order for him to have done that, the move would have had to been real in the first place it was more theoretical than real, more fiction than fact.

Actually, I would stipulate that it was an undisguised attempt to unsettle our player, and not for the first time in this window and probably not for the last.

The English window is shut – more on that later – but the rest of Europe is still open for business.

Over and over again, this is the kind of nonsense we’re going to read.

We say this a lot on this site, but it is high time bans were handed out to hacks who pull this sort of stuff.

It is the only way we’re ever going to get it to stop.

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