Before I start, let me say that I wish no ill will to Charlton, and they were perfectly entitled to reject any move that we made for their young winger Alfie Doughty in the course of the summer window. The news today that he has suffered a long-term injury must be crushing for them and for the player himself.
This is the risk teams take with players nearly at the end of their contracts and who other clubs express an interest in.
Any player can get injured, of course, but it must be especially hard for a club to take when they kept the player in spite of needing the money only to lose him anyway, and for a term that might take him beyond January.
The player himself now has to consider his own situation; there’s nothing like finding out you’re going to be out for a while for making a footballer consider his own career and where he wants it to go.
Every one of them has been injured and many of them have gotten injuries which have made them contemplate “is this it?”
Doughty doesn’t have an injury like that; it’s a hamstring, but a bad one, and the sort that will rule him out for many, many weeks … but he’ll be thinking “What if?” and one of those “what if’s” will be “what if I’d got my move to Celtic?”
There’s a lesson in this for us, of course; we are going to have similar decisions to make if certain players don’t sign new deals.
We have to balance our urge to keep them with the necessity of getting good money for them if we possibly can.
I feel bad for Charlton, but I did say they were being a little unreasonable in their expectations of getting a huge fee.
Doughty hasn’t proved himself yet, we’d have been buying potential and from the English third tier and a club in financial dire straits … they had to temper their expectations about what was possible and gettable, and with only our club in the race.
This is the chance you take, and we’re facing a similar choice.
I hope we make the right one when we have to, because anything can happen in football and this is a good example of that.