SCOTT Brown’s captain’s performance against England on Wednesday night won him admirers.
Whether or not any of those admirers holds the purse strings at Barclays Premier League clubs remains to be seen, but it was a good night to give one’s market value a nudge.
Not that Brown, we are informed, has any intention of ever becoming a subject of silly-season speculation. Six years since he moved from Hibs to Parkhead, and with nowhere else to aspire to move within Scotland, the Hill Of Beath man appears ready to admit that he would be content to stay a Celtic player for life.
Brown would acquit himself well in England’s top flight, Neil Lennon assured anyone who would listen at Celtic Park yesterday – but he has no conspicuous desire to prove this to himself or anybody else.
“As we see players every week we sometimes react harshly towards them,” said Lennon, mounting another of his defences of the maligned Scottish product. “We don’t give the players the credit they sometimes deserve.
“We’ve got some good players here unquestionably. Scott has improved no end. I know players; played in England myself. I’ve no qualms Scott could play in England at a higher level, at a consistent level.
“I think he enjoys the challenge as well, going up against the best players. There is scope for him to work on, his technique can get better and his range of passing can get better.
“But those are minor things. He’s captained Scotland and Gordon [Strachan] wouldn’t have made him captain if Gordon didn’t think he was a top player. He’s a good captain as well.”
Brown might not get the chance to build on his robust form at Pittodrie this lunchtime – “he’s a bit tired and stiff, so the three games in six days would be a bit much for him,” reasoned Lennon – but Georgios Samaras is relaxed about that because he expects the midfielder to have many years of Celtic service ahead of him.
“His quality is at a really high level. He is the captain of Celtic, he has been here six months longer than me. He is one of the captains of Scotland,” said Samaras, going on to explain why he was not surprised that Brown’s name was so rarely mentioned alongside liquid assets such as Victor Wanyama and Gary Hooper this summer. It is partly down to Brown’s contentment here, and partly because the hole he would leave in the event of a move would make it difficult for Celtic to justify the cash injection.
“Sometimes you don’t need to go somewhere to prove something else or for people to believe in you.
“If people believe you are not good enough, you don’t need to change all this to go and prove that you are good,” said the Greek striker at yesterday’s launch of Cafe 1888, a new and informal take on match-day hospitality at Celtic Park.
“His mentality is that he will never quit Celtic to go to a club in the Premiership and fight for 11th just to prove something. He will stay here and play European football and win titles.
“If he does not want to leave, his door for other teams will close. Nothing will be in the media. For sure, there are clubs interested in him. But it is a no straight away and that means the door is closed, there is nothing in the media, no rumours, nothing. I am sure there are offers for him.”
Lennon does not expect offers, and having stuck a ‘not for sale’ sticker on Fraser Forster yesterday to ward off any advance from Benfica, he does not seem interested in entertaining suitors for Brown. “He’s very settled here, he’s midway through a long-term contract. He’s never made any moves to me about wanting to go. He’s got a young family now and I think he sees himself maybe ending his career here,” he said.
With so much of the talk yesterday concerning a long-haul flight to a fixture of monumental monetary importance to Celtic, it was natural that a match that Celtic can probably afford to lose took second billing. Anyone of an Aberdeen persuasion
In Samaras, however, the Dons will be up against a foreign Celtic player who has been here long enough to know what came before him.
An affiliation with the Scottish game means that the striker appreciates Aberdeen’s place in the historic scheme of things, and if he had to choose a team to finish second this season, it would be Derek McInnes’s upwardly-mobile outfit.
“It will be a long, long season. I really don’t know how the season will be. I will need to see all the teams. After 10, 12 games you can see what teams will be in the first three or four positions,” he said, before acknowledging that an Aberdeen uprising would be good for Scottish football.
“It is a great club with a great history from the 80s. They were a really good Scottish club in the past and we need them to be reborn to help Scottish football. Hopefully they go on for the next years and not one year. They need to build from this year to the next year to again become a top team in Scotland like they used to be.”