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PART TWO: LISBON LION BERTIE ON McGINN SAGA, THE PASSION FOR THE JERSEY AND PLAYING THE SKINT CARD

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LISBON Lion Bertie Auld was a master of the transfer market when he was manager of Partick Thistle and Hibs.

The Celtic legend could wheel and deal with the best of them and had an eye for a bargain and genuine quality.

In another CQN EXCLUSIVE, here is Bertie’s take on his old club’s attempts to sign John McGinn from Hibs during the summer:

“I would have loved to have seen John McGinn join Celtic. I’m positive he would be a great acquisition to Brendan Rodgers’ squad.

“Quite apart from his midfield skills, we would have been getting a player who knew what this club is all about, a young player who would have brought passion to his game in the green-and-white hoops.

“I knew his grandfather Jack, a former chairman of the club, of course, and I’m told John had been a season ticket holder before becoming otherwise engaged on matchday.

“He would have played for the jersey and, when you are right up against it and you’re striving to get something from a game, that means a lot more than financial incentives.

CLASH…John McGinn challenges Celtic defender Kieran Tierney for the ball.

“Well, at least, it does to those who are committed to Celtic. For me, these are the guys who really matter.

“I could have envisaged McGinn getting his sleeves rolled up when it was required and getting stuck in when the going got tough.

“We saw that last season when he was up against Celtic and trying to prove a point. I would have paid my admission money just to see him going head to head with Broony!

“So, it’s a pity he will not be in there vying for midfield places alongside the skipper, Callum McGregor, Tom Rogic, Olivier Ntcham and some of the others.

“As we all know the deal didn’t materialise and I can only wish the lad good luck at Aston Villa. Listen, I’m well aware there are many reasons why a transfer won’t work, but, really, this one should have been a shoo-in.

“It’s not for me to advise Celtic on how to go about their transfer business, but I would have done things differently.

“For a start, I wouldn’t have sold Stuart Armstrong to Southampton without having a replacement already in the squad.

“When I was at Thistle, I had to make stipulations with other clubs wishing to buy any of my players that they did not go public with their interest.

“If they did, they knew the deal would be kaput. I wouldn’t let it happen. Back then, I had complete control of the transfers, who stayed and who left. There were no Directors of Football or Transfer Panels.

CLASS…the stylish Stuart Armstrong goes for the ball with Aberdeen’s Graeme Shinnie. Pics: Geo.

“I would have found it impossible to work under those rules. If I saw a player I fancied, I went to the board and let them know. We would work out the finances and I would make my move. As simple as that.

“However, I knew if I sold a player for big money then the next team I went to asking about one of their players their value suddenly rocketed. The selling club knew we had a few quid and they just upped their valuation of their player.

“I recall two such deals when I was Thistle boss and I was selling Colin McAdam to Rangers and Doug Somner to St Mirren. I knew I would have to replace them and, at the same time, I was aware prices of targets would suddenly have an extra zero or two.

“I think we got something like £350,000 in combined fees for the players which was good money for the Jags where every penny was a prisoner.

“On both occasions, I told Rangers and St Mirren there would be absolutely no chance of deals being completed if a word was leaked to anyone.

“That allowed me to go to clubs such as, say, Kilmarnock, Dunfermline, St Johnstone and make an enquiry about one of their players. I would always play the ‘skint’ card.

“I would get the player I wanted at the price I was prepared to pay and everyone was happy.

“A day later, Rangers or St Mirren would get their man. That’s how business used to be conducted at that end of the transfer market.

“I don’t think Brendan Rodgers has to duck and dive in such a manner, but I would still have made certain I had my man in, the deal done and dusted and then I would listen to what Southampton had to say.

“Possibly, Celtic, Southampton and the player had a prior arrangement for a summer switch and that’s perfectly understandable.

“But no-one else needed to know about Celtic being guaranteed £7million for their player.

“Did Hibs expect Celtic to make a bigger bid for their player on the back of that deal? Perhaps not. My old Edinburgh team would have already known the Scottish champions had cash in the bank.

“Still, I believe it helps your bargaining opportunities if other clubs are not fully aware of what sort of amounts of cash you have at your disposal.

“And don’t even get me started on agents!”

* TOMORROW: Part Three: How I dealt with Partick Thistle’s version of Dedryck Boyata!

 
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