Bargain Hunters

Craig-Gordon-CelticPound for pound Henrik Larsson is, for me, Celtic’s greatest ever signing. I think he’s also Celtic’s greatest ever player.

And what an absolute steal at just £650k.

My old man may beg to differ having seen the likes of Jinky, Lennox and McNeill but Henrik just stands out.

Closely behind is Lubo Moravcik who was an absolute bargain at just £300,000 from Duisburg.

For under a million quid, the Hoops unearthed two of the greatest foreign players to grace the Scottish game.

Some would argue the “bargain” tag should also be applied to Brian Laudrup, who was a fanatastic player for Rangers but he came with a price tage of £2.3m in 1994.

I’m wondering what that would equate to now?

In short, only a fool would disagree that Larsson, is and will probably remain the greatest. Even after his seven great years as Celtic’s No. 7 he went on the find success with Manchester United and Barcelona.

Some have been critical of Celtic’s signing policies at times. James has, and I have. We had the chance to buy Finnbogasson, for example, but waited too long and his value climbed, until we balked at the asking price of £5m.

Yet we never blinked when signing Pukki and Balde. To say those didn’t work out is an understatement … yet Finnbogasson hasn’t done so well in Spain either, which makes me wonder how well spent that money might have been.

To be fair, Celtic has done remarkably well over the years even if you discount the duds.

They seem to have a knack of bringing players in at bargain basement pricing and selling them on for a handsome fee.

Look at Wanyama, Ki and Forster. Around £25m in transfer fees for around £6m investment. Not a bad return.

These players were sold on the back of being successful at Celtic and excelling in their positions. Wanyama and Ki have taken to the “greatest league in the world” with applomb, which is testament to Celtic to as they nurtured both before selling them on.

It’s almost as if Peter Lawwell goes into the Pound Shop, picks up a silver-plated teapot, scrubs it with Silvo and pops up on the Antique Roadshow and stuns the presenters and audience by selling it for a million quid.

This is what King thinks he’s going to do at Ibrox, of course.

But it’s not easy. It took Celtic years to establish the scouting networks that uncovered some of these gems.

It’s not cheap either. Those profits had to be taken in line with the expenses we incur every year on keeping this network afloat.

Nevertheless, the sums we bring in remain substantial.

But let’s focus on today’s team.

Assistant Manager John Collins recently paid the Hoops No.1 a massive compliment by equating Craig Gordon with Henrik Larsson and Lubo Moravcik as being one best value for money signings made by the club.

Gordon came in during the summer for absolutely hee-haw. Diddly squat.

He had big gloves to fill after replacing Fraser Forster, who was sold for £10million and there were high expectations from many among the Celtic support. Admittedly, I was sceptical. Very.

This was a guy who has suffered a horrendous knee injury and was a footballing outcast training at Murray Park for almost a year.

Rangers must be kicking themsleves that they never signed him. But Gordon had ambition and moved to Scotland’s premier club.

He’s surpassed my expectations and I have as much confidence in Gordon as I did with Forster. There’s a reason why Sunderland forked out £9m for him.

His stature is growing day by day, week by week. He may have had a howler at Celtic Park versus Inter Milan but some of his work in the San Siro was truly magnificent and in the group stages he certainly excelled.

Yet, for me, “Mugging of the Season” has got to be the acquisition of the Dundee United duo Gary Mackay-Stevens and Stuart Armstrong for around two million pounds Celtic must have gone into Tannadice with balaclavas and shooters.

It seems like they have been at Celtic for 5 years and not 5 minutes. These two guys may just be Ronny Deila’s salvation.

They’ve added a certain edge and energy to Celtic and they way they play. They’ve helped up Celtic’s game and can only grow into better players by gaining European experience.

Mackay-Steven’s first half display in Milan epitomises this. He’s not scared to take players on. For me, he’s twice the player that James Forrest is. Forrest appears to have lost his mojo. I know he’s suffered injuries but his performance in Milan told its own story.

Armstrong for me is Scott Brown’s replacement. Not that I want the captain gone; far from it. The former Dundee United player will learn a lot but he’s already doing one thing better than Brown – scoring goals. Celtic needs that and have done for a while.

Johansen will score them too but Celtic has upped the anté with these two additions and for me they have been a masterstroke. It’s added competition to the squad together with strength in depth at the business end of the season.

Now that Europe has gone until next year Celtic has a wonderful chance to win a domestic treble. Frankly at the start of the season I would have taken the league title and 4-In-A-Row as Celtic had just appointed Deila, who was a real unknown.

Ronny’s grown on me. I backed him from the off but started to doubt his credentials as some of the results were poor at the start, but I will put my hands up and say I got it wrong by falling out of love with his football so quickly.

He’s been clever with signing these two young players. His style of football is starting to embed itself in at Paradise and beyond. It’s exciting to watch. Nerve-wracking at times but exciting, although the St Johnstone result was disappointing and the Scottish Cup tie with Utd has gone to a replay.

Lawwell and John Park will need to dust down the sawn-off shotguns and masks for the summer, as it looks likely we’ll lose Van Dijk and Denayer; again players we’ve borrowed or paid little for in today’s transfer markets.

It’s a model that we’ve had to adjust to. Gone are the days of £6m signings. We’ve had to adapt to our market and surroundings. Economically we cannot compete. Even if we tried to chase the dream we could end up like Rangers, who fell on their own sword in the quest for European Glory.

The way our club operates in the transfer market is the envy of many others.

It works for now and if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

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Gavin McCann

A dipsomaniac funambulist steadying himself on life’s tightrope through the medium of writing. I “suffer” from diphallic terata with mild polyorchidity. Like a dug wi’ two dicks.

6 thoughts on “Bargain Hunters

  • 10 March, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    £2.4m in 1994 works out to be roughly £4.3m in 2015.

  • 10 March, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    I have to say Gavin,how do you get a better bargain than paying nothing ?? For me Gordon is the steal of all time and the only worry was his fitness at 1st.We brought him in slowly to the team and now is back to class we new he had.At the start of the season I said he was a better keeper than Forster when we sold him and I got pelters from some guys.I am glad to say I was proven right and if he stays with us can be one of the all time greats up there with Simpson in my eyes.

  • 10 March, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    Laudrup was about a fifth of the then world record transfer fee.

    Basically £16m in today’s climate.

    Bargain. Lolz.

  • 10 March, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    I spoke with an ex player who’s knowledgable of the work at Lennoxtown and also the business model that we operate, and he backed Ronnie from day one, explaining that Ronnie was chosen because he was used to operating in the way Celtic operated the management of players.
    He brought up the many managers that appeared at successful run clubs and turned the managing of players in a total opposite direction, often creating unrest and massive upheaval.

    It’s something we just don’t think about when we think of a new coach or manager, preferring to look at his trophy cabinet.

  • 13 March, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    I agree with your old man – wee Jinky was the best (with Henrik a very close second). Older fans than myself would perhaps go for Jimmy Mc Grory or Jimmy Quinn. They are all true legends of our great club and we will, I am sure, produce future legends. Great article Gavin. Hail, hail.

  • 16 March, 2015 at 11:27 pm

    I think Dalglish was probably the best ever player at both Celtic and Liverpool and thats some achievement however, its a debate that could go on forever.
    Best that we thank our lucky stars that we’ve seen so many wonderful players and I include the current celtic number one.
    and he gave us……

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