An interesting wee bit of gossip today online, and one that made me smile; Celtic turned down the chance to re-sign Patrick Roberts after holding talks with him in the summer.
And it was Ange himself who made the final decision not to proceed with the deal.
A lot of us had written our own “Patrick Roberts: The Final Chapter” articles.
Now we can put it to bed knowing that we missed out on an Epilogue, but that the story is truly ended, and the final script was signed off on by the only director who matters, the Celtic manager himself.
Ange spoke to him, and Ange had doubts. About his focus. Perhaps even his full-blooded commitment. Not that it matters which, because Ange has a policy that if he’s going to allow someone into his dressing room he wants to know that person is the full package, that he’ll fit in and that he’ll bring something more than just talent to the table.
Patrick Roberts has the talent, but his career has been stuck in neutral for a long time now.
Why is that? Ange clearly asked himself that question, and he clearly asked the player that question, and he wasn’t entirely satisfied with the answer he got.
What has gone wrong with Roberts? How can a player of such obvious talent bounce around from place to place without making an impact? Sometimes a player and a club have a perfect marriage; is that what happened at Celtic?
He met people here he got on with and played in front of fans who loved him. Some in our media accused him of falling into a “comfort zone”. Is that the answer? He certainly didn’t look comfortable elsewhere.
And yet, how comfortable did he really look at Celtic? In the first spell, yes, the initial 18-month loan. But when we extended that by a further 12 months he looked as if he’d lost something. He certainly didn’t play as much. The hamstring injury he suffered was part of it, but the form of James Forrest was an issue in it as well.
There was still enough there to make most of us wonder if he’d realise the gig was up at City and push for the move. But he signed a new deal and was immediately sent out on loan to their affiliate club in Girona. That put the writing on the wall.
Four further loan deals at clubs followed – Norwich, Middlesbrough, Derby and Troyes – before City finally let him off the wage bill. At every stage rumours linked him with Celtic, and I am not surprised that we spoke to him at some point.
Ange’s decision can best be summed up by what Sunderland did when they opened talks with him. Roberts, remember, was once one of the most hyped young English players in the game … but when they had a chance to sign him even they, in League One, only offered him a short term deal. He now comes with a reputation. Is he awkward? Is he difficult? Is he just not focussed or committed? Whatever it is, it follows him around.
Ange’s decision is probably final. There hasn’t been much since he signed for the English club which would in any way cause him to question it. That means that even when his current short term deal comes to an end that Celtic probably wouldn’t even think of him.
So this is the Final Chapter. It’s a sad one, but you cannot look at the current team and the way it is playing and think that Ange would have improved it much by signing him. Who would we have left out? Who would we have had to sacrifice?