Joining Stubbs at Rotherham means midfielder will not be allowed to ‘disappear’ again, writes Alan Pattullo
Few players, it seems, have been so ill served by moves supposedly designed to enhance their prospects than Scott Allan.
You wonder whether his move to Parkhead from Hibs was ever really designed to help Allan’s own development. Rather, it appeared to be hurriedly completed in a bid to sabotage the player’s mooted transfer to Rangers
So one of the first reactions to news that the Celtic midfielder is on the verge of securing a season’s loan deal with Alan Stubbs’ Rotherham United is relief. Relief that he might now, finally, be permitted to progress with a career that always seems set to ignite, but never quite has.
‘Progress’ in this context is nothing more ambitious than simply playing every week. This is something he will surely do under the guidance of a manager who clearly rates him. Because you wonder whether his move to Parkhead from Hibs, finally concluded in mid-August last year, was ever really designed to help Allan’s own development.
Rather, it appeared to be hurriedly completed in a bid to sabotage the player’s mooted transfer to Rangers, which Allan desired but the Easter Road club, for obvious reasons, did not.
This time last year, he was the name on everyone’s lips. The question of where he was bound dominated back pages and caused Stubbs to sigh when conversation turned to this subject. Yesterday, when news emerged he was on the way to join Stubbs at Rotherham, for a reported initial season-long loan, it provoked a jolt: Ah yes, Scott Allan. In just short of a year, he was at risk of becoming a forgotten man all over again. For someone whose style of playing is so easy on the eye, it is a crime that he has been allowed once more to fade from view.
Hopefully Stubbs can address this by handing Allan another opportunity to resurrect his career. It is strange the way football works. This time last year neither man could have imagined being reunited at the AESSEAL New York Stadium, which Rotherham’s stadium is now called.
But it doesn’t matter what its name is, just as long as Allan is allowed to display his talents on its turf.
Stubbs will no doubt welcome him with a knowing look on his face, one which says: ‘Told you. Told you should have stayed at Hibs’.
The Easter Road club’s promotion hopes risked being damaged by the tug of war between Rangers and Celtic. Naturally Stubbs didn’t want Allan to sign for Rangers, Hibs’ chief Championship rivals. But did Celtic really need another midfielder?
Allan’s move there was particularly deflating for Hibs fans, because they predicted what eventually happened; he would become just another face in a large squad. Not that it turned out all bad for Hibs, who were able to secure Liam Henderson on loan from Celtic in return. It was, after all, Henderson’s corner that was met by David Gray at Hampden Park on 21 May.
In Celtic manager Ronny Deila’s defence, he had plenty of options. Allan also did not help his own case. Having come on as a substitute against Ajax in a decisive Europa League group tie, he conceded possession on the edge of his own box. Ajax broke upfield and scored the winner in a 2-1 victory.
But even in this short time, and putting to one side a mistake that could easily be attributed to rustiness, he was credited with adding spark to Celtic’s play. Not that this seemed to change anything; he made only sporadic appearances thereafter, including just three starts, as Celtic stumbled towards the league title.
Allan will turn 25 later this year. Despite Rotherham being his ninth club, only once has he completed a season in which he was allowed to make a sustained contribution.
That was in 2014-15, when he made more than 40 appearances – for Stubbs at Hibs.
Allan’s reputation has preceded him ever since he began making waves as a youngster at Dundee United. It was shortly afterwards that his progress was interrupted by what felt like unseemly haste to leave Dundee United.
Warning bells began to sound as Allan, under the apparent influence of an agent, rejected an extended deal from the Tannadice club after a handful of first-team games. Peter Houston, the then Dundee United manager, railed against the poor advice the player had been given from John Viola, Allan’s agent at the time.
Allan signed for West Bromwich Albion, from where he was loaned out for spells at Portsmouth, MK Dons and Birmingham. When questioned on these early experiences, Allan has remained adamant that he is glad he left for England when he did. He grew up a lot, as he had to. Similarly, when questioned recently on his move to Celtic, and how, had he shown more patience, he might now be anticipating lining up for boyhood heroes Rangers on their return to the top flight, he was just as steadfast: no regrets. Perhaps.
He is certainly better equipped now to handle the demands of the English Championship than when he first went south of the Border, as a teenager.
Back under the paternal eye of Stubbs, Allan won’t be allowed to disappear, which, sadly, has been the story of this talented football’s frustrating career so far.