TERRY Butcher has reacted strongly to comments made by new Aberdeen signing Adam Rooney that appeared to suggest the striker had rejected the chance to work with his former manager again.
“Absolute b*llocks, if you’ll excuse my French,” was the Hibernian manager’s take on things yesterday, as he arrived to preview this weekend’s match with champions Celtic.
He remarked that he and Rooney and his representative were on a “different wavelength” as they discussed a potential loan move to Hibs. It has since been reported that Rooney, who Butcher brought to Inverness Caledonian Thistle in 2008, had turned down the chance to come to Hibs in order to sign for Aberdeen on a two-and-a-half-year deal.
“A load of rubbish,” stressed Butcher. “I spoke to Adam’s agent and he wanted a permanent deal, whereas we are looking more at loan deals. But we never got around to talking figures or anything like that,” he added. “I couldn’t commit to a long- term contract, albeit I’ve worked with him before and I was optimistic he would come to us on loan.
“But the lure of a very lucrative deal was obviously what he wanted. It was never a case of us offering him anything, he just wanted a permanent deal somewhere. We were on a different wavelength.”
Butcher stressed that he wanted to explain the circumstances in case fans felt the club had been out-bid by Aberdeen for the Oldham Athletic player. In fact, they had not got round to offering Rooney anything yet. “I need to make it clear because our supporters will look at that and say: ‘You must have made an offer which got rejected’,” added the manager. “That was not the case. It is the same with Jason Scotland – his agent phoned me up and straight away I said: ‘No, I’m not interested’. All of a sudden teams are “pipping” us to the signing of Jason Scotland! Unfortunately at this time of the season agents are very busy, and our fans think: ‘Blimey, that’s Hibs priced out of a player again.’ It’s simply not the case.”
Butcher was displaying some evidence of frustration with the January transfer window although he is confident of making at least one signing – perhaps even before tomorrow’s match against Celtic.
“Normally I don’t do any transfer business in January because I’ve never had any money at Caley Thistle,” he said. “If we do, then it is normally for free. It has been frustrating because we’ve gone for good targets and good players – Jamie Murphy, for example – and the fates have been against us. We still want to get players in who are better than what we’ve got and have the quality to bring to Hibs.”
Butcher is confident his players can react in a positive fashion after two successive defeats, the most recent being last weekend’s 3-2 loss at home to St Mirren. The Hibs manager has challenged the team to make up for this bitterly disappointing loss and has been encouraged by the determination shown by the players in training so far this week, although he admits the incentive could well be fear.
“There is the threat of what Celtic can do…and there is a threat from me,” he admitted. “We’ve got over last week and the training has been excellent. The boys are fired up and they want to get out there and play well. The fact you are up against the Champions will only make you more fired up. Training wasn’t as good last week as it has been this week.
“We’re not going into the game in the best condition in terms of injuries and suspension, but we’ll put out a team that will give everything to the cause and have a real go,” he promised. “Celtic are there to be shot down. They have been very consistent, which is what Neil [Lennon] wanted from the start, and we are up against a slick machine. Hopefully we can throw a spanner in there somewhere.”
One presumes he does not mean literally. Butcher was quick to deny that his show of half-time rage against St Mirren had caused damage to the home dressing-room. “I’ve volleyed a few things,” he admitted. “But the maintenance man has been unemployed for the moment. A bottle of water – full – was hurled last week, but there has only been the odd occasion when I have felt the need to do that. That’s a good indication of what the players have given us so far.”
As Butcher continues to search for strikers to bring in on loan one forward already at the club stressed that he has no intention of standing aside without a fight. James Collins’ position in the side has been hard earned after his initial struggles following a £200,000 move from Swindon Town. The striker has now scored six times, including a double in last weekend’s defeat to St Mirren. He is unmoved by Butcher’s talk of signing players better than those already at Hibs.
“The gaffer has come out and said he wants attacking players and strikers,” said Collins. “But that doesn’t mean that they’re going to come in and play. I just need to keep my head down and work hard and keep doing what I have been doing. If I am scoring goals then hopefully I can stay in the side. But it all comes down to if you are playing well and if the side is doing well. So hopefully I can stay in the team and keep it going.”