The Scotsman tonight is running one of its more lurid, imaginative, daringly fictitious headlines; “Rangers to beat Celtic to Premier League winger” it reads.
The winger in question has played exactly one game for an EPL club; his name is Brandon Barker.
You may remember him for a single season at Hibs, and a vague link with Celtic at the start of the window.
The link was for two reasons; he was on the notorious “leaked list” … from which not one player has actually been signed by the club.
If Barker now signs on at Ibrox he will be the second name from that list who has, the first being Joe Aribo.
Tonight I wonder if that list was a bizarre hoax, a scam directed at Ibrox itself, to put them onto players not worth the scratch. Because few on that list were exactly inspiring names. In fact, the poor quality of it was one of the reasons so many of us thought it worth highlighting.
The link to Barker lasted less than a week.
Celtic never expressed the slightest interest in signing him, and it would have been easy to do, not to mention cheap.
The truth is, he is a sub-par footballer who would not have gotten near our squad.
The second reason he’s been linked with us is that Lennon is a fan.
Lennon did like him, when he had Hibs players at his disposal. We have slightly better footballers at Celtic Park, and on that side of the pitch they include Mikey “Magic” Johnson, Ryan Christie, James Forrest, Scott Sinclair, Lewis Morgan and Hayes himself.
I would not willingly keep any one of them out of the squad to accommodate someone of such poor quality as Barker.
A place at the City youth academy does not a class player make; indeed, some of the fans at Ibrox don’t like the sound of this one bit and reckon he’s a Mark Allan signing … in other words, a cheap City reject who is at the limit of what they can afford.
The odd thing is, not only do I know he wouldn’t get into our team but I wonder if he’s actually good enough to get into theirs.
This is a baffling move, making not one blind bit of sense for either the player or the club. I would take Jordan Jones over him, and I don’t even particularly rate Jordan Jones. He is certainly inferior to Candelas, who the club has already sold.
I understand that this is a difficult, and emotional, time for the Ibrox fans.
Their club has watched us take a giant step towards Champions League group stage football, and we’ve done it whilst putting a cool £25 million in the bank. Their club has spent the summer trying to punt some of its dreck and they made less than a million in fees and added more useless clutter to the squad at the same time.
But made up nonsense about how they’ve pipped us to a third rate footballer isn’t going to cheer up supporters who know the difference between what was promised and what they got. They dreamed of seeing their club splash out £7 million on Ryan Kent … instead they’re on the brink of this.
And they know what that means, even as we prepare to flex more fiscal muscle.
Celtic has actual money to spend. We don’t need to root around in the bargain bin, which is full of players like Brandon Barker.
We can do better because we can afford to and because we need to if we want to improve the team. This guy wouldn’t be an asset if he was the backup to the backup to the backup to the backup with a side-line in cleaning the Lennoxtown bogs.
This is the Scotsman – this is Joel Sked; who else? – at the most desperate.