The latest transfer rumour is not an interesting one as much as it’s an illuminating one.
The name of Liam Scales will be unfamiliar to most Celtic fans, except for those who live in Ireland. He plays over there, for one of their top flight clubs.
Now, this could be another mere rumour … but then again, it might not be. In the event that this turns out to be something more than tittle-tattle, here’s the problem – the very big problem – with the very idea of it.
Right from the moment Ange Postecoglou was hired, the mantra from the club has been that he’s in total control of football affairs.
We’ve already seen the club scrambling to deny that he had our two-bob coaching team imposed on him. It was, therefore, purely a coincidence that a matter of days later he confirmed that he’s keeping Kennedy and Strachan around.
At the weekend we lost a goal from a set-piece, an affliction that haunted us all through the last campaign and which that pair of jokers couldn’t fix. If Ange thinks these are the right guys with whom to trust his future and his reputation, well that’s up to him.
He alone knows whether that decision has already been taken out of his hands.
We simply have to take his word for it that he’s making that call.
But if we sign Liam Scales, the best thing the club can do, for the sake of the manager’s credibility, is to leave his name out of it entirely because not for one second will I believe, no matter what we’re told, and nor will most people, that this was an “Ange signing”.
It reeks of boardroom interference in the building of this squad and you don’t even have to look terribly far to find the circumstantial evidence of that.
Just last week, someone inside Parkhead fed a juicy story to the media about how our absentee shareholder was suddenly taking an interest in the transfer business.
None of us knew specifically what that meant, except that it didn’t sound promising.
Well, Desmond’s “other” club, in whom he took a shareholding earlier in the year, is Shamrock Rovers, and it just so happens that Liam Scales, the alleged “hottest property in the League Of Ireland” plays for that very club.
So Desmond’s sudden interest and involvement now makes a lot of sense.
Just where a League of Ireland player fits into the Celtic rebuild … well, a lot less so.
The thing that should be most obvious here is that any effort to dress this up as “Ange signing” will be greeted with the contempt and derision that it deserves.
Once again, our club is putting itself in a dreadful position because even if this is kosher, and Ange is fully on board, getting people to accept that is going to murderously hard to do … even in the best case scenario, this is one of those examples of perception versus reality where even if we’re playing it straight it presents our critics with an open goal even Edouard wouldn’t miss right now.
That, on its own, makes this utterly needless, and reckless.
And as I said above, I don’t believe for one second that Ange Postecoglou would sign off on this decision based on the merits of it from the point of view of “strengthening his options.”
At best, it’s a cheap third or fourth level choice based on the growing unlikelyhood of us reaching even the Europa League Groups; certainly it will not, in any way, shape or form, dramatically enhance our chances of getting there.
Scales is 22, so the club dare not even dress it up as a project signing.
What kind of project signing is older than two centre backs who started the game against the Danes in midweek?
How long has Ange been “following his career” from Japan?
What standard of opposition has this player faced, week in week out, that makes him ready to be part of the biggest rebuild this club has encountered in years?
To try and convince us that the manager is convinced by this … that’s not just an insult to our intelligence, it’s pissing us on and not even bothering to call it rain.
Please understand, this is nothing against the player.
He could wow us. I hope he does.
But if we’re now looking at the League of Ireland for answers to the massive questions facing our club then we have the wrong people looking for those answers.
Comparisons with Paul McGrath and Seamus Coleman and how they went to massive clubs from that league … honestly, it’s desperate reaching and the proof that some in our support simply don’t get that this is why we’re in this mess.
Look at the state of us at the moment; we are here precisely because we continuously recalibrate, downwards, our expectations of what this club should be aiming for. The moment most swallowed, without question, the “logic” of hiring a manager from the Japanese League it was a matter of time before we were settling for players even further down the chain.
Thank God no-one from Luxembourg has ever won the Champions League.
Our team would have probably have six of their internationals on the books.
There’s a parable I like to fall back on in times like this.
A kid wakes up one Christsmas morning, hoping to get the present he’s been angling for all year. Instead, his parents take him into the garden where he finds a pile of shit. Undeterred, he gets a shovel and starts digging. “What are you digging for?” someone asks him. “There must be a pony in here,” he says.
That’s what we’re like at times.
But sometimes, folks, sometimes you just get a pile of shit.
The more obvious explanation isn’t that we, of all clubs, have stumbled upon an undiscovered superstar in the backwater league and at the very same club where our absentee shareholder has an interest but that this is a player imposed on the manager by said largest shareholder.
Frankly, I find that easy to believe and would defy anyone to say that it’s a stretch.
It’s hardly a unique scenario, with us having been over this course many times in the past.
But if it comes off they should do us all – and especially the manager himself – the courtesy of keeping Ange as far away from the announcement as possible because it will make him look like a joke in the eyes of our critics who don’t need the additional ammunition. It makes him a laughing stock, it makes a mockery of the very idea that he is charge of who comes and who goes.
It is a PR calamity of biblical proportions and if people inside Celtic Park don’t care about that then shame on them.
If they want to kill the public credibility of the manager, then in many ways this is the perfect time to do it, early on, before he’s properly got his feet under the table.
If they want to punish him, publicly, for his calling them out on the time deals take then there’s no better way to do it than to make a signing that he obviously hasn’t sanctioned and to force that signing down his throat.
But if they do that they better be prepared for most of us to see it for what it actually is; a ghastly, retrograde step not only against the manager but against the supporters and the shareholders and everyone who cares about this club.
Because this isn’t a strategy for getting us back on top, it’s scorching the earth under Ange’s feet and nobody should see it in any other way.