How losing Ali McCann and Jason Kerr was St Johnstone's Patrick Battiston moment - the ramifications could be significant
Just ask St Johnstone fans.
It wasn’t long ago when more than 9,000 Saints supporters were soaring into McDiarmid Park for their Europa League qualifier with Galatasaray, two domestic cups in tow, having held the Turkish giants to a draw in Istanbul.
Even after their European exit, going into the final day of the transfer window Callum Davidson had held on to his key players.
Jamie McCart and Shaun Rooney. The armband remained around Jason Kerr’s bicep. Then there was Ali McCann, somehow still a St Johnstone player.
Like a wrecking ball
Then deadline day morphed into the infamous German goalkeeper Harald ‘Toni’ Schumacher during the 1982 World Cup semi-final against France. Poor St Johnstone. They were the helpless and unwitting Patrick Battiston. WAMO! Knocked for six. Left in a crumpled heap. Dazed and confused.
Jason Kerr, swept away by Wigan Athletic for £600,000, was the moment Battiston noticed something was amiss. The McCann departure to Preston North End for £1.2million was the impact. The hip, the arse, the full weight of Schumacher demolishing the Frenchman like a wrecking ball.
St Johnstone fans likely had a very difficult sleep on Tuesday night, not to mention Davidson, now shorn of two key players, despite the arrival of Ali Crawford and Lars Dendnocker and shrewd signing of Cammy MacPherson.
Ali McCann and Jason Kerr were two players who made the system work. Two players who were part of the St Johnstone identity.
The Kerr deal was a difficult one to take but one where there was a degree of reasoning, acceptance almost, due to the fact he had entered the final year of his deal. After all, it wasn't that long ago Scottish clubs below Celtic and Rangers were getting £600,000 for important players under contract for a lot longer.
Goalposts being shifted
McCann is a different story.
He was meant to be different. He was meant to be the player who not only broke Davidson’s record sale of £1.75million from Saints, but smashed like Schu... that’s enough of that.
Done were the days of English clubs robbing our key players on longer contracts for a snip.
Therefore, the incredulity which met McCann's low fee was completely understandable.
Saints chairman Steve Brown had said earlier this year: "Our transfer record is £1.75million and Ali will not be leaving for any less than that."
He made a pointed comment in confirming the deal: "We tried very hard to resist all of the bids for Ali. But Preston's offer is a huge sum and one we couldn't turn down. In time, it is likely to become the club's record transfer fee received.”
While Brown may well be correct, there does feel an element of goalposts being shifted ever so slightly, especially with the nature of the exit and the fact fans had expected it to be a blockbuster deal. It is also not a good marker for the future when more vultures circle the Perth skies.
You fear, after all the positivity from last season, tapping into a bigger fanbase and enticing supporters back to McDiarmid Park will have taken a serious hit. Perhaps not as serious a hit as Davidson's squad and this season’s ambitions, however.
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