Over the weekend, I decided that I needed some down-time and so I took Monday and yesterday and spent them relaxing.
Sort of. I still had to wade through the papers and an assortment of anti-Celtic trash and it was there I came across Andrew Smith’s piece in that failed paper The Scotsman, which has a readership which would struggle to sustain a blog.
I’ve read Smith a few times and thought I recognised in his work the guitar licks of my own. I won’t say that the tune and the lyrics are exactly the same but there is a tug of familiarity about it which could possibly be coincidence of psychic phenomena, so it wasn’t a huge surprise to me that his piece went over some of the ground this blog did late last week on Jota.
First there was the article I wrote where I said that he would stay if we were willing to do the deal but he was smart not to say that out loud for a variety of reasons. Second was the Rumour Guy’s article wherein he castigated the purveyors of clickbait who had suggested that we might find ourselves in a “transfer battle” for a player we have first refusal on.
This is what The Rumour Guy wrote in that piece.
“If we decide to exercise that option and the player is happy with that then it doesn’t matter if Barcelona are sniffing on the horizon and willing to pay three times what our clause is … if the player likes the idea, it’s a done deal. If he doesn’t then we’re not going to keep him no matter how quickly we try to tie things up. He’s not daft and neither are his agents. If they decide to explore their options, we won’t get him to sign early anyway.”
I feel as though we set the table just right. Someone was always going to run with the idea and Smith has grasped the sword with both hands and taken a swing at it.
And his article doesn’t just talk down Celtic, but Scottish football and the very idea that a player who had options elsewhere would ever want to stay here. It’s a snide, nasty little piece of work from a snide and nasty journalist who spends an awful lot of time slagging Celtic for someone who used to edit The Celtic View.
Perhaps his exit wasn’t pleasant, but that happens.
Most people don’t hold the grudge for the rest of their natural lives.
Entitled, “Jota: Why Celtic fans should not get too excited about permanent deal” it is a cynical exercise in what he freely admits is “reading between the lines”, which is the easiest thing in the world to do and the basis of many a shady article masquerading as journalism.
Taking a few random remarks and trying to find the secret meaning in them, Smith concludes that Celtic has already given up hope of keeping the player and that he will have vastly better options and that we therefore shouldn’t waste our time in even trying to keep him.
The nasty little contention that forms the centrepiece of the article is this; “The bitter reality is that his excellence puts him out of their reach.”
Which is basically speculative reaching, one man’s opinion, offered I suspect through the prism of an ancient grudge, or whatever it is that makes this guy so nearly uniformly negative about us.
First, Jota’s “excellence” has not properly been demonstrated yet and won’t be until he proves that he can do the job week in week out with all the pressures that entails, and on solid pitches in wintery weather I’m certain he’s never seen the likes of before in his life.
Secondly, Smith clearly believes that neither Celtic nor Scotland can provide a player with the things he needs.
What, pray, does he think footballers come here for? Charity?
They are paid well and given a stage on which to properly grow. If he does the business the next stage he’ll play on is the Champions League one, a shop window where he must fancy strutting his stuff.
Jota has no experience of winning things at Celtic.
He has no experience of being part of a team that is just going to get better and better.
For sure we could put an attractive package in front of him, and we’d have to; what does Smith think keeps Callum McGregor at Celtic Park when he could move to England and enrich himself beyond what we can throw at him?
I remember similar nonsense being talked about Edouard; his agents were smart enough to know that he still had some developing to do and that he was going to be better doing at Parkhead as anywhere else.
They knew that the big money move would come.
Jota knows it too and so do his people.
We have the first option, and that’s a powerful thing. If we can make him feel wanted, and make him feel that Celtic is his home, then I have no doubt that Smith will have to put some salt and vinegar on his very bitter words and scoff them up.
For the second time today I’ve had to write about stupid news stories involving our loanees.
As I said at the end of the first piece, on Cameron Carter Vickers, this is obviously a reaction to our current form. The hacks have no avenue to attack us in the present day, so they are trying to suggest we face uncertainty in the future.
Well you know what? Imagine they’re both right; imagine we get neither player.
We built an entire team in one summer, and I have no doubt that in the event we aren’t able to sign Carter Vickers and Jota that we’ll have a plan for that too.
Jota is the darling of the stands right now, the big hero.
But that’s life at Celtic.
We are a hero making machine, and there will be another and another and another and another … Project Ange is in its first full season.
The true shape of what he’s building won’t be decided this year either way.
The hacks ought to remember that, although that fact doesn’t suit them.