Before Ange was approached to become Celtic manager, we looked at a number of players from England and Scotland. They would have been a fairly uninspiring bunch. We know we were in for some of them because the drumbeat was just too loud not to have been backed up by something real.
There is no question that we dodged a few bullets.
Lennon would have signed players from that shortlist. So would Howe. On both of those lists was a guy we made a bid for on freedom of contract and who we looked set to sign, but who Ange pulled the plug on right away. In July last year Charlie Wyke was on his way to Celtic Park; almost everyone agreed that it was virtually a done deal.
Then our managerial plans changed and he found himself fighting to find a new club.
He opted for Wigan, and although some of the media claimed that he had snubbed us the truth is that Ange found the signing just as uninspiring as many of our fans did. I thought Wyke would have brought us something different than we had; he was a six-yard box player and we hadn’t had one of those in a while.
But I understood that it was good that we’d walked away.
In the end, we signed a six-yard box player and one of the highest quality. He proved it again today when he got the late winner for us. Giakoumakis is a better footballer than Wyke by far. The whole outlook of this club has been different since big Ange took the reins.
Normally I never bother with “the road not taken.”
Why would I? Why should any of us?
There are a few notable exceptions, such as with John McGinn, but that was because the failure to do that deal was a symptom of much bigger issues at the club … the Wyke decision was about a change of focus and a manager who had his own ideas about signings.
The reason the player is still on my radar is that he had something of a dreadful time of it since he signed for Wigan. He collapsed on their training pitch and was diagnosed with a heart condition.
He was lucky to survive, and it was a minor miracle that he was able to even consider a return to the game. Well, today he scored his first goal since that horror event.
I was pleased for him, acutely aware that he could have been lining up for us when he suffered that horrible setback, and I can imagine how the forums and the websites would have reacted to his getting on the scoresheet.
I remember how we all felt when we saw Henrik score his first goal after his horror leg break – against Italy, for Sweden in Euro 2000. This would have been much more intense and you can well imagine how Wyke felt.
I am so chuffed that he’s back scoring goals again, and whilst there’s no way to know if this is a real comeback he’s experiencing or a false dawn it will feel good to him tonight, perhaps the best he’s ever felt after scoring a goal.
And as someone we came very close to bringing to the club, and who is only somewhere because our whole plan changed, I don’t think I’m alone in hoping that he goes on to be a big success at Wigan, and in his career beyond that.
Well done, Charlie Wyke. Outstanding.