Former Celtic idol Frank McAvennie doesn’t blame striker Gary Hooper for swapping the Champions League for the Championship, claiming that the 25-year-old – who was still playing non-league football at 18 with Gray’s Athletic – is right to cash in on his talent.
Hooper is likely to sign for newly-relegated Queen’s Park Rangers and McAvennie argues that, the bottom line is the bottom line for the forward and no-one should be surprised by that.
It is likely that the move – which would not make footballing sense – will not be down to a lack of personal ambition but a desire to ensure he doesn’t need to work again once he retires.
“It’s just money, isn’t it?” said McAvennie. “I thought they did well getting the £12.5 million they did for Victor Wanyama, that was great business. Hooper’s going into the last year of his contract and they have to take what they can get for him.
“He’s also got to look after himself. Harry Redknapp will think of himself as a manager who can bring him back up to the Premier League next year. I think he should stay but he’ll be tripling his wages by going and I don’t know if Scotland can compete with that. I think it’s dragged on too long. They’re waiting for more money coming in but if teams really want you they’re coming in at the start of the window, not dragging it on like this. It’s not doing Celtic or the boy any good.”
McAvennie believes losing Hooper will not be a major blow for the Parkhead faithful and insists Tony Watt should not be allowed to go on loan, claiming that he sees some of himself in the 19-year-old who notched the winner against Barcelona.
“I’ve always been an admirer of Anthony Stokes and I like Tony Watt,” he said. “He’s a bit of a throwback to my kind of centre-forward – a guy who’ll chase things down. Hooper won’t chase things. Tony gives them a different dimension. There’s been talk of him going out on loan but I think they need to keep him.”
McAvennie was speaking as he prepared to take part in the filming of a Scotland v England celebrity match at New Douglas Park on 3 August for What’s The Score? – a film comedy which will be released next summer.
“Justin Smith, the writer, asked me to get involved in London,” he said. “I knew a lot of the Arsenal lads who had already done some filming and they said it had been good fun so I came on board to get a part in the film. I’ve got a speaking part so it’s just something else to do. I’m back in Scotland and helping out.
“They were looking for a ground so I got them in with Hamilton as they’re a good charity club. I now live in Hamilton and don’t have a car so I can just walk there. I also helped them to bring in some former players.”