A couple of years ago, I argued that we’re missing out on using the free transfer market.
The truth, though, is that you really have to know your stuff when you are shopping there.
Most out of contract players are near the end of their careers, guys in their 30’s looking for one last pay day.
They are not the kind of players we want at Celtic Park.
I think of the sort of player’s we’ve signed on frees before. I look across the city, aghast, at the colossal waste they’ve sunk into players on free deals. You hear that term and you think sometimes that there’s no real risk in those signings, but they also like bling and they’ve signed a lot of it over the years, like Barton and Kranjcar.
It is dead easy to get that market wrong.
That’s why when you hit the jackpot it so memorable and unbelievable. How in God’s name did no club swoop for Aaron Mooy before we did? We won a watch, but it had nothing whatsoever to do with luck.
Ange knew what we were getting and that he would fit brilliantly into this team. He knew it. This wasn’t even a risk. You need that sort of knowledge shopping in the free transfer market. You need to know that the guy has the right skill-set to fit your plans. You need to know that he has the right personality. Ange knew both.
For all that, I do remain amazed. Because Mooy is very obviously a classy footballer, and he proved it during the World Cup before coming back here and riding that wave of acclaim to brilliant performances in our own famous shirt. He has never looked back.
His performance on Saturday was immense. Absolutely immense.
Not just the goal but the way he marshalled the midfield. He is a cut above every other player in this league not already at Parkhead. He would walk into the Ibrox side every week, without question, and I have to laugh at the idea that he trained at Murray Park and they didn’t take the option on him.
The geniuses at Ibrox left him for Celtic, where he has already terrorised them in a cup final. You could not make that up. It sums up the state of them.
But it speaks volumes for us. It speaks volumes for Ange. And it speaks volumes for Mooy himself, because this is the way to see out the last years of your career. To play for a top club. To win your first titles. To secure your first major trophies.
I love the big guy. He has been an exceptional signing as all of them are … and that we got him for free is a delicious irony when we’re being accused of having bought this success.
Those accusing us of it should consider that this was just one of the options they passed on.