Celtic might be tempted to, in the words of Orange Juice, rip it up and start again.
It makes sense, to a degree; so many players have disappointed this season. We haven’t seen the likes of Ryan Christie, Leigh Griffiths or Scott Brown at their best. Signings have been disappointing, and it’ll take real work to repair this Celtic squad.
I get that, you get that, everybody understands it. It’s not a secret that the Bhoys need to launch an overhaul so expansive and quick that it would have the cast of Changing Rooms aghast.
But there’s one name appearing in the columns more frequently over the last few weeks. Callum McGregor has been talked about as a captain-in-waiting, but rumours persist that his attentions are focused elsewhere. There’s certainly been interest, not least from former Bhoys boss Brendan Rodgers.
Yet, McGregor has played over 4,000 minutes of football this season. While, sure, he’ll be associated with the failures of this season, they’re hardly his fault alone. There’s been a collective sluggishness to Celtic this season, but that’ll be hurting the winger-turned-central-midfielder. In every press conference he’s done, CalMac seems determined, diplomatic and in many ways, like a future captain.
Still, rumours persist, with some suggesting that it would serve him well to leave the club [Daily Record].
What’s being said about Celtic man Callum McGregor?
Speaking on the Celtic Huddle Podcast, Daily Mail reporter John McGarry commented on the McGregor situation.
“It’s not outwith the realms of possibility that a big club from down south could come in for him. He’s then got a decision to make. He’s at that stage of his career, as well. I think the chances are he probably will be there next season, but Celtic can really ill-afford to lose him.
“Apart from him, Jullien, Forrest, Taylor, Turnbull… after that, there’s a lot of maybes. It really is half a team at the moment, and McGregor is a key component of that.
“If there is interest, Celtic shouldn’t encourage it.”
Honestly, it’s hard to disagree with him. Again, the temptation to completely strip this squad and restart is understandable. But, despite his red card on Sunday, McGregor is hardly someone Celtic can afford to dispense with. It’s easy to remember the recent struggles, but it’s more important to remember his overall impact in the Hoops.
Celtic can’t rely on sentimentality nor recency bias, McGregor is vital
While we’ve criticised the Celtic board for relying on sentimentality in the past, this isn’t an example. McGregor is only 27, after all, and should be approaching his prime.
Neither should we be suggesting that because of one less-than-stellar season, McGregor should want to leave, or be forced to exit the club. Yes, he was abject on Sunday but he’s won far more Glasgow Derbies than he’s lost. Knee-jerk decisions aren’t a Celtic forté either.
McGregor’s influence on the pitch and his ability make him undroppable for Celtic. There’s a reason he plays so many games; when he’s good, the team’s good.
So, we need to drop the idea of CalMac taking off any time soon. He’s the perfect bridge between eras, and it’d only harm us further to contemplate letting him go.