In honour of Joey Barton, who will meet with Rangers on Thursday to discuss his future following six weeks away through a club-imposed suspension, we look at other SPFL signings this past summer who’ve left fans feeling underwhelmed.
Aberdeen - Miles Storey
The Jack Grealish look-a-like netted 13 goals in 37 games for Inverness CT last season, though his overall impact could not be measured in simple statistics. He added a much needed drive and impetus to the club’s attack after a dreadfully slow start and his pace in behind helped keep opposing back-lines honest, thereby allowing Inverness CT to implement their pass-it-out-from-the-back system. Aberdeen needed someone capable of playing through the centre who would provide a different threat to Adam Rooney, while having a deputy for Niall McGinn and Jonny Hayes on the wings wouldn’t hurt either.
What’s gone wrong? Derek McInnes felt his side needed more pace in the wide areas and recruited Wes Burns on loan from Bristol City. The speedster has jumped over Storey in the pecking order, while Jayden Stockley, also signed this summer, has been used in place of Adam Rooney whenever the Aberdeen boss feels the need to change things up.
It’s restricted Storey to cameos at the end of games. He’s started in only two games and actually managed to score in the second one, a 2-1 home win over Partick Thistle. The fact that he was then omitted the very next week sums up his season so far.
Hearts - Bjorn Johnsen
Robbie Neilson insisted the American/Norwegian was not the next Osman Sow, as he sought to temper expectations for the new signing. Unfortunately for the Hearts boss, he’d already described Johnsen as a 6ft-plus striker with a great pace and good technical abilities, which set off large neon signs screaming “SOW! SOW! SOW!” in the minds of Hearts fans. Though he had some humble beginnings, working his way through Norwegian and Portuguese lower leagues, his goalscoring record with Bulgarian top flight side Litex Lovech had supporters salivating in anticipation.
What’s gone wrong? He scored his first goal against Dundee this past weekend, so this could see the start of a run for the forward who’s shared playing time with Conor Sammon thus far. The technical abilities advertised prior to his arrival are there to see, but he’s a very raw talent. It’ll take time for him to fully acclimatise to Scottish football, something not helped by a protracted delay in his transfer confirmation.
Partick Thistle - Ziggy Gordon
A few eyebrows were raised when the full-back joined the Firhill club having left Hamilton Accies at the end of last season. Words like “coup” and “gem” were used to describe the transfer, as everyone had assumed Gordon would secure a deal with a much bigger club. The overall sentiment, viewed as a backhanded compliment, rankled with Thistle fans who clearly felt their club was big enough to tempt a full-back away from Hamilton.
What’s gone wrong? It’s hard to say. He just hasn’t been anywhere near as good as advertised. Thistle fans don’t get it. This was the guy everyone was talking up? Sometimes players fit certain clubs perfectly; sometimes it’s the opposite. It’s early days and things could soon turn around for player and club, but it’s beginning to look like an example of the latter.
Raith Rovers - Rudi Skacel
Ok, at 37, we may not have expected Skacel to roll back the years and reproduce the form he showed at Hearts prior to his 2012 Scottish football exit. However, we did assume that, if granted enough playing time, he would score goals in the Scottish Championship. Having been on the coaching staff during Skacel’s second spell at Hearts, it was assumed Raith boss Gary Locke would know how to get the best out of him. The veteran has now played in 10 games, four from the start, scoring zero goals.
What’s gone wrong? He’s 37. Also - and this is a credit to Locke - the team hasn’t been built solely around his talents.
Rangers - Joe Garner
Depending on your source, Garner cost between £1.5m and £1.8m from Preston North End, making him the most expensive Rangers buy since the club’s 2012 financial collapse. Incidentally, the second and third most expensive players are David Templeton and Michael O’Halloran. Clearly this spending money thing isn’t working out too well for them. Regardless, big money brings with it big expectations and Garner has failed to live up to them thus far.
What’s gone wrong? Like most of Mark Warburton’s signings this past summer, you struggle to understand what the plan was. What did the Rangers boss think his team lacked that Garner’s signing would address? He works hard in every game and looks to have a bit of a goal threat about him, even if he has only managed one strike in seven thus far, but one must wonder if a cheaper version could not have been sought from elsewhere, considering how inflated the English Championship is right now. It’ll take a bit of time and patience for him to get up to speed, but even if he does it’s not certain he’ll be an improvement on either of Kenny Miller and Martyn Waghorn.
Ross County - Jay McEveley
Continuing a recent trend of recruiting centre-backs with a terrific pedigree, County managed to coax the former Scottish international north of the border. Andrew Davies was on his way out of the club and with Chris Robertson having already left, it seemed a really good way to fill the impending void in the middle of their defence.
What’s gone wrong? Davies didn’t go. His wife, who’d failed to settle in the Highlands, apparently had a change of heart. This left County with a problem. Three of their highest earners, including fellow centre-back Paul Quinn, played in the same position. They experimented with a back three at the beginning of the season - with disastrous results. Since then, McEveley has either been stationed out at left-back, where he can play but isn’t his strongest position, or backing up either of the other two. The problems, however, have been about more than competition for places. Even when he has featured he’s been rash, error-prone and nowhere near as solid as County fans had hoped. Maybe he’s trying too hard to impress.
St Mirren - John Sutton
While you’re reading this, an angry mob from Paisley are currently attempting to burn down my home for daring to criticise Big Johnny Handsome. However, it would be remiss of me not to draw attention to the fact that neither his signing nor St Mirren’s season have gone according to plan.
What’s gone wrong? If St Mirren were a better side, Sutton would probably have more than four goals in 15 games this season. However, he’s still complicit in the sense that his signing, along with the additions of Ryan Hardie, David Clarkson and Lawrence Shankland, saw St Mirren stick with a 4-4-2 system that both failed to get the best out of the midfield and protect a leaking defence. It’s also safe to say 32-year-old Sutton is not quite the same player St Mirren supporters idolised in his first spell with the club.
Got to go, I think I smell burning.