The moment the Charlie Wyke story first broke, my initial reaction was to dismiss it as ludicrous. Why in God’s name were we looking at a League One striker who was 27 with one good season of goals behind him? And then I watched the video of those goals.
It was immediately clear that Wyke was a left-over option for an era that was fading into a horrible Celtic Park memory. For two entire seasons we played ridiculously predictable football, often with one man upfront against packed defences who knew how to stop him.
Wyke looked like a guy being pursued explicitly for the purpose of changing that. In other words, he was a guy we had targeted to play a specific role in a specific system. He was a guy Neil Lennon had wanted us to go for.
We can probably go further and suggest that he would have been a natural Leigh Griffiths replacement on a short term deal. Both are penalty box finishers, although Griffiths is nowhere near as good in the air as Wyke appears to be, on the evidence of those clips.
So it made sense. At the time. Then Ange jetted in, met with McKay and a lot of things that were being worked on were put to one side. A lot of things that were far down the line were jettisoned, including plans to appoint a director of football.
The partnership at the top of the club has literally pulled the rug out from under whatever schemes and plans were in place before they got there.
Griffiths getting a one-year extension was a sign, in itself, that there was a change of thinking. McKay’s public statement suggesting that the Lawwell Plan was in the bin was another. Wherever we are tonight, it was not where some inside Parkhead envisioned us being just a few short weeks ago. There are downsides to that, but there are upsides to it as well.
Charlie Wyke is on the verge of signing for Wigan, a League One team. He’s not taken a single step forward in his career. He’s going there for £10,000 a week. We could have afforded that quite easily and given him the contract he wanted to if we thought he was worth it. Wyke could have played in Europe. He could have given himself the platform for an even bigger move in two or three years if he kept himself fit and did a good job.
The only way a guy like this would be staying in England’s League One is if Celtic’s offer were not on the table, or it was one that reflected our valuation of him as a one note player intended to play in specific system. And if he wasn’t happy with that, fine.
Celtic were talking to he and his agents at one point. Before Ange came in. Did you notice how all such talk about the player dropped off the radar the moment the Aussie was in the door? Even the hacks, who asked about every other player we were talking to, never once asked what the progress of that particular deal was. The chatter over it had died away.
It seems pretty clear that Celtic’s interest cooled rapidly the moment the manager was actually in the building, working alongside Dominic McKay. I think you can draw the simple conclusion that we just didn’t see any value in finishing up with this deal.
You have to trust the people currently running things at the top of the house, and although I’d have welcomed the signing, as I’ve made pretty clear, if Wyke had a Celtic offer he’s rejected it for better money in the comfort zone of England’s own footballing backwater.
And that tells you everything you need to know about how he’d have fit into what the manager is trying to do here. In short, he wouldn’t have fit at all.
Last night I was happy to spend some time with the Endless Celts podcast guys. You can check it out below.