This morning, Joe McHugh of VideoCelts published one of his excellent pieces on the latest rantings by Tom English.
The subject matter? John McGinn.
We are four years on from the fiasco that was the summer of 2018.
None of us are going to forget it.
The most obvious effect of it was that it annihilated the working relationship that should have held the whole club together, the one between Brendan Rodgers and Peter Lawwell, and whilst Lawwell was not entirely to blame for that neither side emerged from it with a shred of credit.
The gigantic clash of egos that took place destabilised us and in the end was a contributing factor in costing us ten in a row.
John McGinn was but one element in that toxic combination.
What happened with that transfer failure is still only half understood, but what’s known is that Rod Petrie and Lawwell got into a pissing contest over him and our CEO made a momentous miscalculation; that McGinn, a diehard Celtic fan, would reject any offer which was on the table to wait and transfer to us for free the following summer.
Which he wasn’t prepared to do.
Was there a number which would have moved Petrie and gotten us the player?
Petrie never wanted to sell him to us, that much has always been clear.
But money does talk, and Lennon, who was the Hibs boss at the time, wanted a transfer kitty and was making noises about it in the media. The thing is, Lawwell had his own ideas about what the player was worth and Rodgers, for reasons which I will never fully understand, allowed that interference.
Nobody at Celtic emerged from it with any credit. I was inside Celtic Park, talking to Lawwell, on the morning McGinn made his decision to go to Villa. I was no sooner out of the building than the deal was being announced.
I still remember the sheepish look on Lawwell’s face, as he tried to assure myself and Auldheid that the club had done all it could.
All but pay Hibs a fee which would have reflected the esteem in which Rodgers held the player, and thus made sure he never went down to talk to Villa in the first place.
I don’t agree with English, at all, that “money no object” should have been our strategy, but Lawwell went out of his way to make offers which were more insulting than serious.
Yet let’s acknowledge a simple truth; Lawwell’s strategy was flawed because it was based on a complete failure to understand McGinn.
At its root was the idea that McGinn would wait because it was Celtic, that we were the club he wanted to play for, that his roots and familial ties and his lifelong support for the club would make it an easy decision.
But Lawwell forgot that this was a young guy with a career plan.
Kieran Tierney already had, or was about to have, his head turned by interest from Everton; a little known fact which I assure readers is exactly that. People at Celtic professed to be shocked when, upon informing Tierney of Everton’s interest, that he expressed a desire to go … if that came after McGinn’s decision they ought not to have been.
If it came before it then we should have known that we didn’t have a prayer of getting him once Villa were on the scene.
Right there is the truth that dare not speak its name, that’s what lies at the heart of the whole affair and makes English’s tweet little more than a bitchy snark.
He knows, and we all known deep down, that once Villa made their interest plain that we were never getting near John McGinn.
Not only was the option of waiting that extra year and signing for us on a free on the table, but he knew and we knew that we’d be back in January with a vastly stronger negotiating hand, and he wasn’t even willing to wait for that.
The only way we were getting John McGinn that summer, after English interest was registered, was if we’d been able to match Villa’s personal terms and English knows that wasn’t feasible.
When he says “money no object” it’s easy to do because it wasn’t his money … and Celtic simply wasn’t going to make him the highest paid player in Scotland, and by some distance.
Aside from times like this, I try not to look back.
When McGinn scored that goal last night I didn’t wonder what might have been; what’s the point in that?
The moment passed.
He had a chance to sign for Celtic, albiet six months to a year down the road and he made his choice. Lawwell played his hand badly – shocking badly in fact – but it was a weak hand to begin with.
English, as usual, is simply sniping because he saw an opportunity.
That’s what the man does.
As Joe points out, it’s the reason the BBC slapped his wrist not that long ago.
He can’t help himself.
The man is so poisoned by his own biases that he’s got an itchy trigger figure and it won’t be long before he gets himself into more trouble with it.