Scottish football transfer window: The losers

Celtic loan signing Jo Inge Berget. Picture: SNS
Celtic loan signing Jo Inge Berget. Picture: SNS
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The clubs that should wish for a do-over with regards to their summer signings.

Yesterday the Terrace Podcast discussed the winners from the transfer window. These were the clubs that strengthened where they needed to and generally gave themselves a great chance of being better, or at least as good, this season.

Now it’s time to turn to the losers. The teams that frustrated their own fans and brought derision from others. Unsurprisingly, there were some big names in the discussion.

Craig Fowler: Ok, let’s move onto the losers. Who wants to throw a team out there first?

John Callan: I’ll go! St Johnstone. I don’t think it mattered who they signed, replacing Stevie May’s goals and ability is close to impossible. Look what happened to Hibs when Leigh Griffiths was taken out of the side. St Johnstone have more steel about them than Hibs, so I’m not predicting their relegation or anything, but I think they’ll struggle to replicate their form from last season.

Losing 27 goals is a disaster for anyone, but the way it has forced them into playing with three central midfielders hasn’t been a bad thing. It frees up Gary McDonald to attack more, and takes pressure off Chris Millar - though they may revert to two up top with Brian Graham’s arrival. I think losing James Dunne, who was brilliant at the tail end of last season, will be a big loss too, though.

CF: I worry about Graham and Steven MacLean as a partnership. Tommy Wright seems to think they’ll work but I disagree. There’s a lack of movement in the channels with they two. Also none of their midfielders score goals with any regularity, which makes playing in the 4-5-1 a struggle. Having said all that, I still think they might make the top six. They’re just so well organised. I think they’ll pick up a number of victories through sheer will power.

Craig Cairns: Agreed. Tommy Wright’s St. Johnstone have shown they can grind out a set of results when they are required.

CF: Think it’s a little harsh to name them since they did get a decent fee for May. Anyway, we should move on. It would be remiss of us not to mention who EVERYBODY (OH MY GOD) thinks are massive losers this transfer window: Celtic.

CC: Not just this transfer window but over the last few. Jo Inge Berget? The strangest thing about his signing is how he walked into the side and seems to be one of the first names on the team sheet despite not really impressing too much.

I could have scored a brace against Dundee United in that game!

JC: Swapping Craig Gordon for Fraser Forster and pocketing £10m could yet prove to be inspired. I get Celtic fans’ frustration though, you can’t play a bag of money up front.

CF: I think that should be an experiment. Celtic play with a bag of money (essentially ten men) for a season and we see if they still win the league.

CC: I still have my doubts about Gordon, though not really concerning his ability. I would love to see him succeed for Celtic but I just think that there’s potential that he could aggravate previous injuries given that he struggled with them for so long.

It must play on his mind when he rushes and dives at the feet of attackers during 50-50s and I think this will increase his risk of getting injured again. There’s still a chance Celtic could have Lukasz Zaluska as their number one for a portion of the season, which is definitely a downgrade on Forster.

CF: I get your point. There’s no real precedent for a player as injury prone as he was, or out for so long, to come back and stay healthy for the majority of the time. The Berget thing is just bizarre. I wonder how Ronny Deila looks at him and Leigh Griffiths everyday in training and comes to the conclusion that Berget is better.

CC: And to favour him over Commons. It seems like he was trying to make a statement rather than for any reasons concerning tactics or ability. But that’s obviously speculation on my part.

JC: I think when you’re winning the league without breaking sweat, you need to convince supporters that you’re trying to achieve something more on top of that. Sure, Deila’s still trying to get the team to play in his own way, but a heap of loan signings doesn’t exactly scream long-termism.

CF: To be fair, Berget and Wakaso Mubarak are both in loan deals where they have the option to buy, so they are, in essence, Celtic players unless the club doesn’t want them to be.

CC: Celtic were probably the biggest losers in the top-flight regarding transfer activity. They lost one or two key players, another wants to leave and the only permanent outfield player they signed seemed like he didn’t want to be there either!

Plus they gambled on not spending much to reach the Champions League and failed. Twice.

CF: Biggest losers? Ross County, surely!

CC: OK, so the two clubs had similarly bad transfer windows but for different reasons. I still think that, relatively speaking, Celtic’s was worse.

CF: I have my sympathies with the former Ross County father-and-son team. They’ve signed relatively well throughout their time with the club. The problem is that they keep having to gamble in the transfer market, and eventually you’re going to lose big, which they certainly did this summer.

CC: The problem for County has been offering one-year deals, not knowing if they’ll establish themselves in the top flight or not. This means upheaval every year.

Derek Adams, overall, done a fantastic job though it probably was time for a change. I just think that with the right manger there is something to work with there.

JC: I don’t disagree with getting rid of Derek Adams, but almost immediately after his latest overhaul? It gives the new manager a lot of immediate work to do. Still, they got everyone’s favourite sub ‘keeper, which has to count for something.

CF: I don’t get the benching of Antonio Reguero, but that’s a topic for another time. I’m gonna throw out a controversial “loser”: Aberdeen.


JC: Given how little variation Derek McInnes used in his line-ups last season, it seems a bit odd that he’s streamlined the squad even more. Goodwillie is a gamble, particularly if his arrival influenced the plan to change from the 4-2-3-1 to a diamond. Ash Taylor has had an unconvincing start too, although he was better at the weekend.

CC: Yeah, you go after the SPL’s all-time top scorer and end up with a guy whose career has gone severely downhill since he showed early potential.

But there’s a lot of continuity there, so I think overall they’ll be fine.

CF: I just think it’s poor that they’ve kept the core of what was a very strong team but don’t actually look any better for it. In fact, with Russell Anderson, Barry Robson and even Jamie Langfield a year older, you can argue they are even worse. I disagreed with the signing of Ash Taylor and the goalkeeper, Scott Brown. If they seriously wanted to make a run at signing a replacement for Langfield then Jamie MacDonald was available.

JC: I think most Aberdeen supporters saw left-back as a priority, too. Clark Robertson hasn’t played much football over the last year, and Andrew Considine isn’t a full-back. Even if you give 3 as a squad number.

CF: Right, before we finish, I think we need to mention Hibs and Rangers. Hibs, for me, are definite losers of the transfer window, though I don’t feel that is the fault of Alan Stubbs.

CC: It doesn’t matter what Hibs do in transfer windows. They’re cursed.

CF: That is true.

JC: I can see why they wanted a complete clear-out, but it looks like they bit off more than they could chew in one window. Scott Allan could turn out to be a good signing.

CF: That’s just it. I’m pretty impressed with just about every player they have brought in so far, but the squad is still nowhere near complete. Although, having said that, I initially criticised the decision to release all those guys, saying “look at Liam Craig and Scott Robertson, they’re decent, Butcher just couldn’t get it out of them” after the Rangers match. Their performances since has vindicated the board’s decision to allow the former manager to wield the axe and made my look like an idiot.

I still think they’ll finish third. There’s a run in that team, and once they get that their confidence can be built up and they’ll be fine... until they play Hearts again and their backsides’ collapse.

CC: They have signed well - David Gray, Matthew Kennedy, Scott Allan, Farid El Alagui (despite his injury) - there’s just a long way to go for them to go still. I agree the’ll work their way up the league eventually, I just hope they give Stubbs some time.

CF: So, Rangers: winners or losers? (In terms of playing squad, obviously)

CC: Losers. Their transfer policy since their liquidation has been horrendous. They remind me of Gretna, just buying their way out of leagues rather than building something lasting and financially viable.

Ok, so they added more top-flight experience, making them stronger, but they missed an opportunity to clear the squad and develop talent from their academy while signing wisely and working their way up the leagues. Instead they’ve wasted money on short-term fixes. Their signing policy has been all over the place.

JC: Totally agree. Just as I said with regards to Celtic, give people an overarching strategy that they can buy into, like developing young, hungry players moulded into a positive style of play. Although that does sound a little redundant when supporters are actively boycotting, regardless of what happens on the pitch. Granted, last season’s Kris Boyd would be an asset for any team in the country, but signing him and Kenny Miller just feels convenient and unimaginative.

CC: Lee Robinson? Why?

CF: Any others you want to mention before we finish up?

CC: Do we even need to mention St. Mirren?

Their best business was keeping John McGinn and Kenny MacLean but then they signed the likes of Jeroen Tesselaar (in order to play “total football”, I hear) and Ross Caldwell.

CC: Isaac Osbourne is a good signing though.

JC: Osbourne is good, but I’d be astonished if they got more than 20 games out of him. Big Cheesy [Marc MacAusland] looks lost without Darren McGregor too.

CC: Better than Eric Djemba Djemba, ha! Although I heard Lennon defending that signing recently.

CF: WHAT?! What did he say? “The man had some dapper hats”?

CC: He said something about him being great to have around the dressing room. Good for the young players. Aye, ‘cause he’s such a good role model!

CC: Was he a good example the same way a 65 year old alky tramp is for an AA meeting?

Be sure to check out check out The Terrace Scottish Football Podcast website ( - an alternative look at the country’s beautiful game.