No Strachan simplicity in Leigh Griffths' deal from Celtic to Dundee despite crossover, says James McPake

Gordon Strachan did not help facilitate Leigh Griffiths’ loan switch from Celtic to Dundee.

The man with several hats - who took on a consultancy position with the Parkhead club this season, combining it with his ongoing role as technical director at Dens Park - would seem the obvious conduit but Dundee manager James McPake insists he was the person driving the deal.

And, he says that he went into it with his eyes wide open, adamant that if he can handle guys like Paul McGowan, he can handle the baggage that comes with his former team-mate and a player he has known since he first broke through into the Livingston team as a prodigious teenager.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“People say, because we had Gordon, it would be simple but, no. I wish it was. There was nothing simple about it. If it was easy, the deal would have been done at the start of the transfer window. But Celtic are a business, as well as a football club, and Leigh is on good money there so we had to find a way to finance the deal to get him to Dundee within our budget, which we did.

Dundee manager James McPake is happy to have landed Celtic striker and former team-mate Leigh Griffiths on loan at Dens Park. Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group

“It took until the night before deadline day for them to accept it but once they did they then told us they also had an offer from another club. That is when it became difficult and that’s when there was a five or 10 minute period when Leigh didn’t answer his phone to me and I was ready to drive to his house!”

When they finally got the green light, the first thing he did was get him up to Tayside. “Because I knew that once we had him in Dundee, he wasn’t getting out of Dundee! I was the road block…I slept outside his room!”

Even if that is a slight exaggeration, it shows how determined McPake was to get the deal done.

Griffiths himself has spoken of the number of times he has had to bounce back from controversy, saying he is sick of vowing to prove those who write him off wrong,

There is no doubting the baggage that comes with a player who has proved his goalscoring pedigree, at domestic level, in Europe and on an international stage, but McPake says he has no worries, confident he can handle a guy he has been man-managing as a team-mate, a captain and a friend for 15 years.

“I didn't worry about it when I was his captain at Hibs and I didn't worry about it when I was his captain at Livingston, because I know him. Because of the relationship I have with him, I believe he will work hard for me.

“Does he turn up on time? Yes. Does he work hard? Yes, he does. Does he train well? Absolutely, he’s one of the best in training. Does he do it on the pitch? When he is fit, yeah.

“He does get unfair criticism, although sometimes he brings it on himself, we know that, but it’s about managing a human being and we are all hypocrites if we say we are perfect. We’re not. I’m not, Leigh’s not, Paul McGowan’s not and I have managed him pretty well. Touch wood! If I can handle Paul McGowan, I can handle anybody!”

A message from the Editor

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.