It’s fair to say that Ryan Christie and his relationship with the Celtic fans has gone downhill over the last 12 months or so.
The Celtic attacker has been a constant in the Hoops side throughout our nine-in-a-row and 10-in-a-row charges respectively. Initially thriving under Neil Lennon last season, Christie would end the campaign with 20 goals and 16 assists, he was in ruthless form [Transfermarkt].
Yet, as soon as he started to decline with regards to his performance levels this season, he wasn’t given much leeway by the support. Many were quick to vilify Christie, with split beliefs out there that he either deserves the criticism or that he’s made a scapegoat.
For those wondering why Christie doesn’t get as much of a pass as other players? There are probably a few reasons. One being that he can be far too greedy, and that’s an element of football that Celtic fans can’t stand. But things actually started to change towards Christie back in the summer when his father Charlie started talking him up for an EPL move. As quoted by the Glasgow Times, Christie Sr said the following:
“Ryan is very ambitious and he loves playing for Celtic. But I have no doubt there will be other clubs looking at him. To score 20 goals from midfield by March, it would be mad for scouts not to have him on their radar, and I mean at the very top level.
“I would temper that by saying that he’s having the time of his life at Celtic. He’s got a nice flat in a nice area of Glasgow and he says there’s a real bond in the changing room and he’s very close friends with a lot of guys in there.
“I think Ryan could play at that level, there are a lot of Celtic players who could. They have an abundance of talent. We watch the English Premier League and see how John McGinn has thrived, how Stuart Armstrong is doing so well. I just don’t think we give our players enough credit.”
Christie exit talk did Celtic no favours ahead of 10-in-a-row push; fans weren’t happy
This came at a horrid time. When we were looking to try and build for the 10IAR push, we had Christie’s dad coming out with this. About how EPL clubs should be lining up to take a look at his son. It was as much of a come-and-get-me plea for him as he could get away with.
You could say it was a bit of power play. That it was a bid to try and get a better contract out of Celtic. Some may even believe it was simply just a father proud of his son. But whatever it was it was the wrong message, and gave off the vibe that Christie wanted out.
For a player supposed to be a dyed-in-the-wool Celtic fan, allowing these kinds of stories to come out ahead of our 10 push was a massive red flag. For any Celtic fan to contemplate departing at such a crucial moment in the history of the club looked dodgy.
It wasn’t helped two months later when Christie came out and confirmed he was in no rush to sign a new deal [Daily Record]. These are all comments that led to Celtic fans being extremely concerned with his commitment to the club.
Therefore, any dip in performance levels was always going to be attributed to that. Having your dad entertain exit talk and failing to commit himself sent out the wrong messages at the wrong time.
Now, Christie is being linked with moves to both Norwich and Burnley in the EPL [Scottish Daily Mail, print edition 04/04, back page]. Not many Celtic fans are losing sleep over it. It’s also fair to say that it’s not the level of clubs Charlie seemed to think Ryan would be attracting.
That’s as much as an indication of his poor form this season than anything else. But the truth is, the Christie family simply didn’t help themselves with their views last year.