Earlier in the week, I actually breathed a sigh of relief on the day that the Tierney deal was done.
It was, I thought – and hoped – the end of the saga. The player had gone. There would surely be a day or two of mourning and then nothing more.
It had gone on too long. The club needed closure.
But this one could last a while, and I can already tell that reading the forums and the blogs. This one could run in the way the John McGinn thing never seems to pass.
When he scored yesterday for Villa I was in a pub full of Celtic fans many of whom said the same thing at the same time. And I shook my head in despair and wondered; “How long are we going to beat ourselves over that deal? Rod Petrie must be very proud.”
I thought we played the hand we were dealt pretty badly when it came to the John McGinn deal. But it was a bad hand to be holding, right from the start. Petrie did not want to sell to us, but there were ways we could have put pressure on him over it and we never did. Lawwell seemed to lack the strategic foresight to match him and at the end fell back on an arrogant belief that McGinn, as a Celtic fan, would decide to put his career on hold for a year and leave on a free.
And that should have been our first warning, right there.
When Rodgers left with a season still in flux and a history making third treble still in the balance, that should have been our second one. But some fans still aren’t getting it, and they will blame the club if it turns out that Callum McGregor goes in the next window or before the start of the next campaign.
Which part of this are some of them not getting?
Tribal loyalty doesn’t matter to most footballers and it never has. Our entire history is littered with the examples of this. When Nicholas and Dalglish and others walked out, did we self-flagellate over it like this? Did we obsess about what they went on to do with their careers?
I’ll tell you, I stopped caring what John McGinn did the moment he signed for his present club. Brendan Rodgers? I couldn’t care less what he does or does not do in the rest of his career and I will no more “look for the Arsenal score” than I would look for the Villa or Leicester one.
There are those who will absolve Tierney of putting money before ten in a row. They say it’s not that which motivates him. Fine. He was motivated by playing in a better league. That’s what he put before ten in a row. Do those fans like that explanation any better?
In my view he went for the money, and I hold that view because he would have gone to Everton last year and the only reason for leaving Celtic for Everton is money. I don’t hold it against him, and I wish him a good career down there, but honestly I couldn’t care whether he has one or not. I care about Celtic and those who want to stop Celtic and neither Kieran Tierney nor Brendan Rodgers are any longer part of that equation and John McGinn never was.
I didn’t make any effort to decipher Tierney’s “goodbye” post to fans as others have, looking for God knows what to prove their own view. The one thing I took from his public remarks was that he was down in the park with his mates as our game in the Champions League was about to kick off. Maybe they were going to watch it on their smartphones … or just maybe he’d mentally checked out already as he waited to have the move confirmed.
Still, the narrative has taken hold in places that we forced him out the door. It is easier for some people to believe that the people at the top of Celtic wrecked this kid’s dream to put more money in the bank than it is for them to believe – contrary to his comments, Celtic’s comments and a lot of previous badge kissers like Nicholas, Dalglish, Rodgers – that he was dreaming different dreams than we were, and much of it was to do with his own bank balance.
To me this all makes perfect sense, to me there is underlying logic to it and as I keep on saying I do not hold any of it against him. Football players live in a bubble and the average fan has no understanding of what goes on inside it. There are many factors to what happened here, including the player’s injury situation and, I think, even what happened to David Turnbull.
That’s the kind of thing that makes you sit up at night wondering whether you’re really doing all you can for yourself and for your family. Some of our fans have to stop taking this so personally; it was never about us, it was about him and what he thought was right for his own little circle. He wants the financial security for himself and for them right now.
Months of pain can really get you thinking. Arsenal’s announcement that he is nine to ten weeks away from even being in training should be reverberating around Celtic Park.
Even if the board had dug in their heels and we’d kept him at Celtic Park, how would we have benefited from that in the short term?
The Champions League qualifiers would already have come and gone. The first Group games, the first visit to Ibrox, crucial League Cup matches … he wouldn’t have played in any of them. We might not have got a fully fit, fully ready, Tierney before the turn of the year.
And to me that offers not only an alibi for Tierney’s decision but it offers an explanation as to why the club itself felt that this might be the right time to let him go. We can add three or four quality players to this already excellent team with the money we’ve got here.
We have to get past this, and we have to do it quickly.
There is real business to be done at Celtic, and we have to be focussed on the job at hand.
I would rather we focussed on that over looking back in anger over this.