Call it severe pessimism if you will, but as a Celtic supporter, there’s just something about the Jonny Hayes situation that leaves me uneasy.
Celtic decided to call time on Hayes’ Parkhead career this summer after they turned down the prospect of giving him a new contract. Instead, the left-sided winger will have a medical with Aberdeen as he looks set to rejoin his former club (Sky Sports).
And if that deal gets over the line, it’s difficult to see why Celtic have allowed that to happen. After all, Hayes was hardly a useless acquisition. In fact, Hoops manager Neil Lennon played him 26 times last season before the global health pandemic shut football down (Transfermarkt). If it hadn’t, you would’ve expected him to comfortably sail over 30 appearances.
However, by allowing him to leave instead of giving him another year, Celtic have let Hayes join a direct rival. Granted, the Dons may not be challenging for the Premiership title next season. However, it remains one of our toughest fixtures of the domestic calendar.
Giving Aberdeen Hayes, and that’s exactly what Celtic have done, has allowed a worrying narrative to develop. The next time we face Aberdeen, you can’t tell me many Celtic fans won’t be dreading what the Irishman comes up with. It’s the perfect revenge story.
Will there be some bitterness there?
Hayes himself has already come out and expressed his own frustrations at not being given a new contract (Daily Record). There may not be a lot of bitterness there, but there’s evidently a tad. Who wouldn’t bet against him coming back to haunt Celtic in their 10-in-a-row seeking season?
After all, Hayes has previous against the Bhoys. He netted four times against Celtic during his first spell in the Granite City. Two of them came the season before he signed for Brendan Rodgers’ invincibles (Transfermarkt).
And it’s not just his goals either. How many times when we faced Aberdeen between 2014-2017 was Hayes a constant menace with his cross-balls? They would often cause mayhem at the heart of our defence. It’s no surprise to see Derek McInnes’ side swoop so quickly to get a deal done.
Granted, there are question marks over how a club apparently losing £1million every month can still afford to make signings (Evening Express), but that’s what Aberdeen appear set to do. And now, whenever we face McInnes’ men, this inevitably frustrating narrative of Hayes coming back to haunt us will be in many people’s minds.
Oh, and don’t think the players won’t be thinking about it either. If the media shout about it loudly enough, and they will, then it will be in their heads in the build-up. That’s something that could’ve been easily avoided.
We’ve seen this in the past with Kenny Miller. How many times did he return to give us a nasty jab? Hayes may not be an out-and-out goalscorer, but he has traits that can expose Celtic’s defensive vulnerabilities.
This was all perfectly avoidable, but now we’ve added an unnecessary concern ahead of the new campaign. Don’t be surprised if Hayes makes his mark in Celtic matches once again this season.
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