The timing of Scott Brown’s new contract might have been a little suspicious, at tea-time announcement on transfer deadline day, but the benefits of the deal can’t be underestimated.
Brown has priceless experience as well as the ability and know how to outsmart players 10 years his junior. Ask Graeme Shinnie and a host of Ibrox warriors from Joey Barton to Greg Docherty and various broken egos in between.
Turning 34 in June, the temptation to relax a little, enjoy some sunshine, less pressure and a pot of money in Australia or the USA must have been tempting. He could have left Celtic in glory as one of the most decorated players in the club’s history but has signed up for another two years of combat where his reputation and legacy is on the line.
Brown’s experience can’t be underestimated. By the end of this season he could have collected more honours than Hearts have won since they started out in 1873. Think about that.
Celtic’s transfer policy doesn’t really encourage players to hang around. Generally they are recruited young with the intention of being sold on for profit before their contract expires. Looking around the Celtic dressing room there are very few over 30s; Craig Gordon has recently given way to Scott Bain, a similar fate could be awaiting Mikael Lustig.
Back in 1989 Celtic were about to embark on a long trophy-less run mainly due to events in the boardroom but not helped by a clear-out of experience.
After winning the 1989 Scottish Cup Final Mark McGhee and Mick McCarthy moved on and within eight months Roy Aitken and Tommy Burns had followed them out the door. Suddenly Pat Bonner was the senior pro with even more pressure on Paul McStay – it would be May 1995 until Celtic next lifted a trophy.
There is no chance of Celtic entering a similar period but retaining Brown will have a big impact on some of the younger players as the business end of the season gets closer. As recently as three seasons ago Celtic lost two semi-finals at Hampden Park – although Brown was on the pitch it wasn’t the invigorated figure that we’ve seen under Brendan Rodgers.
Regardless of loan signings coming or going there is one great constant staying around to help build on the present run of seven successive trophies and the same amount of title successes. Brown’s contract didn’t attract the yellow tie treatment but it is likely to be the most significant deal that Celtic completed in January.