Celtic exiles could learn from Ryan Christie example and be an influence next season

By Euan Davidson

March 5, 2021

It’s easy to forget that Ryan Christie was signed by Celtic during the 15-16 season. It’s longer ago than it seems.

Admittedly, Ryan Christie is fiercely debated by Hoops supporters. Some, myself included, thinks he gets a lot of unnecessary stick. Others think he’s useless, only occasionally popping up with excellent strikes to cover the cracks in his game. However, there’s little doubt he’s been impactful over the last few seasons.

That was after spells on loan with Aberdeen. In 57 games for the Dons, Christie scored 15 and made 18 assists; a pretty remarkable return on Aberdeen’s loan investment [Transfermarkt].

It’s worth remembering that Ryan Christie was touted as a makeweight in a Scott McKenna deal [Sportslens]. Whatever you think of the midfielder’s performances this season, he’s come a long way from that career low.

What’s the point here? Well, Marian Shved, Jack Hendry and Vakoun Issouf Bayo seem like players who are unlikely to garner game time at Celtic Park. However, that’s exactly where Christie was just a few seasons ago. Finally, Brendan Rodgers took a chance on the Scotsman, and Christie’s never looked back.

It shows that the loan system can work, if we give it a little patience.

Christie celebrates a Scottish Cup Final peach / (Photo by Rob Casey/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Can any of the current Celtic loan crop make an impact like Ryan Christie?

Jack Hendry is the name that stands out here.

Somewhat forgotten, just like Christie was in his initial years at Celtic, Hendry spent last season crocked, after agreeing a loan to Australia. He didn’t make any headway, with much of the season spent rehabbing. He got one more real opportunity, with KV Oostende in Belgium.

He’s been a revelation there. Now, he’s being linked with Premier League clubs, although he hasn’t closed the door on a Celtic renaissance.

Marian Shved has completely turned his game around, also in Belgium. A star for KV Mechelen, Shved endured the taunts of his manager early on, who berated him for his work ethic. He, too, has enjoyed a return to prominence. The Ukrainian winger has been a miss for Celtic, if anything.

If we’d known that all he needed was a stern telling-off, he could’ve deputised for James Forrest, who has missed the majority of the season.

Bayo, meanwhile, has had a more difficult time. Twice capped by the Ivory Coast, Bayo is in Toulouse, and his performances have been wildly inconsistent. Currently, he has only 5 league goals to his name, after 21 appearances [Transfermarkt]. That’s not particularly encouraging.

Vakoun Bayo in Celtic training / (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group via Getty Images)

Lessons to be learned

The lesson here is that often, patience is required. One good, bad or indifferent season doesn’t make or break a player. Yes, the shelf life of a top footballer is short, but perhaps we are too quick to write players off.

The three players mentioned here are interesting cases. Hendry had been written off by countless supporters, myself included. We just didn’t know enough about Bayo to be entirely sure, whereas Shved has impressed enough to warrant a #FreeShved campaign in his honour.

The thing with the loan system is that it’s meant to help us long-term. A change of footballing culture can help players an enormous amount. There’s every reason to believe that each of those players will be mightily improved. Their stints away from Celtic will have undoubtedly added dimensions to their game, from different leagues and coaching styles.

Once, we wrote off Ryan Christie. While, again, he’s not having an outstanding season, he’s been an enormous contributor in general since returning from Aberdeen.

It’s a phrase that’s often misused, but it’s time to Keep the Faith, and see what these players can do next season.

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