It’s a sad sign of the times when the main drama of the January transfer season is an alleged tug-of-war between the Old Firm to sign a Championship winger. No offence to Kris Commons – he’s decent enough, though he wouldn’t be in my first Scotland XI – but this seems like a case of two bald men fighting over a comb.
Or maybe they’re like two hairdressers fighting over a comb. After all, Celtic seem to have wide midfielders coming out of their ears (Maloney, McCourt, McGinn, and Ljungberg) while Rangers are paying through the nose for flatters-to-deceive loanee Vladimir Weiss, and they also have Lafferty, Naismith, Davis, Fleck, Whittaker, and young Gregg Wylde who can play on the wings. Perhaps Walter was just talking up a bid to (a) trick Celtic into buying an unnecessary player or (b) put more pressure on Lloyds to give him a few pennies to spend.
Perhaps the best bit of business done so far this month was Craig Brown signing Blackburn’s Nick Blackman for Aberdeen until the end of the season. Aberdeen are a team of lightweights, and having the hefty – but skilled – Blackman up top will keep them climbing the table.
And perhaps the best bit of business that’s still to be undertaken will be done by whoever signs Conor Sammon, another “big lad with a good touch”, to use the old Peter Crouch cliche. Sammon turned down a move to Championship side Scunthorpe, though other bidders are sniffing around and Killie will find it hard to turn down an offer.
Sammon’s boss Mixu Paatelainen has given us an early contender for unlikeliest headline of the year: “AC Milan midfielder joins Kille” There’s truth in this one, though: “Gabon midfielder Willy Aubameyang has joined Kilmarnock from AC Milan after impressing on trial,” reports the BBC. Don’t get too excited though: he wasn’t exactly a first-team regular.
Switching channels, one very unexpected transfer this month was that of Andy Gray’s move out the door of Sky Sports. This one definitely falls into the Ron Atkinson “What was he thinking?” category. Gray and fellow commentator Richard Keys were caught off-camera but on-microphone disparaging female assistant referee Sian Massey and suggesting that women don’t know the offside rule.
I reckon half the players and managers in football don’t know the offside rule, the main part of which reads:
“A player is in an offside position if he is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent. A player is not in an offside position if he is in his own half of the field of play or he is level with the second-last opponent or he is level with the last two opponents.”
In Scotland there is, of course, the unwritten extra clause: “or if he’s wearing a Rangers shirt and they need a bit of help.”
And finally, can we have a brief moment of silence for the Hearts title challenge, which expired on Wednesday evening in Glasgow. During its short life (November 2010-January 2011) the challenge gradually increased in stature, and never burned brighter than in its last few days; although in hindsight, last Saturday’s victory over Rangers should not have been interpreted as anything other than it was – a lucky win by a team completely outplayed on the day.