Reading the CQN article on Stuart Armstrong this morning pulled the emotional strings. Stuart has made two starts in the league since moving, both of which ended in substitution, while Southampton are above the relegation places only on goal difference.
The club will doubtless throw money at their problems in January, which will do nothing for Stuart’s chances of more game time. That first glorious season under Brendan Rodgers at Celtic must seem a long time ago.
It took Stuart 18 months before his flame flickered here. For most of that period, it was Gary Mackay-Steven who looked the more promising player. Then everything clicked. Goals and assists arrived, as he became an integral part of the team. His form was good, but was never going to trouble one of the larger teams in England, so Southampton looked a wise move. The problem with all of these clubs, though, is they have a surplus of everything. And even as his time at Celtic expired, he was more of a squad player than automatic first choice.
Unless a manager is going to sit you down and tell you how you are going to change his life, the deal to sign you might not register too deeply with him. And even then, whoever makes the promises to you may well be moved on before you’ve had a chance to buy a house. With the news of Fulham changing manager this morning, Mark Hughes will know his time will be up soon if results don’t improve.
I can’t blame Stuart for going to Southampton. They did well by Victor, Fraser and Virgil and the money would have been fabulous. It was the right decision to make at that time. He is too professional to pause right now to reflect on what might have been had he extended his Celtic contract. For now, his focus will all be about getting into the Southampton team, but you’d better believe he will be used as a morality tale when Celtic have been busy with contract renewals this month.
“Go for a bit more money, sit on the bench until the manager is sacked, then sit in the stand. And win nothing.” We need players to be successful when they move on if we are to continue to get value when others leave, but the odd flop introduces a useful jeopardy into the decision to leave Celtic.
Pretty much every player at Celtic will know they could earn more money in England, but when they measure themselves against Stuart, few will be assured of a better outcome.