By Brian P. Dunleavy
We know the season just ended three weeks ago but, if it isn’t painfully obvious from our weekly missives and musings, we might as well make it official: We don’t have much going on in the offseason.
Sure, there’s MLS… Like we said: Not much going on here.
Which is why the dearth of news coming out of Glasgow’s East End regarding potential signings since the start of the summer holiday has us particularly flummoxed. Rangers, after all, have made nine signings since the end of the season, and there’s a name-brand (admittedly an older one) among them in Portugal’s Bruno Alves.
Meanwhile, Brendan Rodgers and the Hoops are reportedly interested in Aberdeen’s Jonny Hayes. Maybe. At least as of this writing. Perhaps. Possibly.
You get the idea.
Assuming Celtic are, in fact, interested in signing Hayes, it stands to reason: After all, the Irishman did help them take home the Scottish Cup (rimshot).
Yes, we found that funny. We told you we were bored.
Missed second-half connections with Kenny McLean aside, Hayes is a nice player and all, but hardly a game-changing signing. He is, perhaps, a depth player at best—assuming the Hoops bring back Patrick Roberts as is (again, reportedly) the case.
The Irishman does have a history with Rodgers (from their days at Reading) and there is, of course, the fact that he’s Irish… However, Hayes in and of himself is not exactly inspiring positive feeling from the Celtic support—particularly if, as is rumored to be the case, midfielder Ryan Christie heads back to Aberdeen on a one-year loan in the deal. In recent years, the rule of thumb among the Hoops support has been: If the player wasn’t good enough to sign for Celtic in the first place, what makes him good enough now? Leigh Griffiths, who last weekend may have singlehandedly saved Gordon Strachan’s job with the national team, wasn’t always “Super Leigh,” and Hayes will have to similarly prove his worth, particularly as the saga drags out in the press and the transfer fee (um, reportedly) climbs above £1.3 million.
With so little going on, it’s no wonder talk of Celtic and Rangers moving into the English football pyramid has resurfaced, this time courtesy of the Scottish FA’s Neil Doncaster, who somehow connected the dots between teams from Ireland and Wales participating in next season’s Irn-Bru Cup (man, an Irn-Bru would go down well right about now) and UEFA being okay with Celtic and Rangers abandoning the Scottish top flight for England’s… what? Championship? League One? League Two?
As compelling a topic as this is compared to the Hayes “will-he-or-won’t-he” headlines, it’s also likely a non-starter. English clubs in the lower divisions are unlikely to be in favor of the Old Firm leap-frogging ahead of them into the EPL, and Celtic and Rangers (well, okay, Celtic) are unlikely to risk giving up the possibility of European football in either the short- or long-term for a slice of the EPL TV revenue pie.
Or we think so, anyway—and we’ve had plenty of time to think about it recently, and will continue to have said time until roughly mid-July.
See? There you go. We’re left with this or contemplating our collective navels.
Now, if Hayes signs, what shirt number will he wear…