So Nir, So Far
So it’s confirmed. Nir Bitton will not, repeat will not, be playing emergency centre back for Celtic in next year’s Champions League qualifiers.
I’ve honestly waited a decade to type that.
Ok, there’s no qualifiers, and of course, there’s no Nir now.
Nir today, gone tomorrow. That’s the last sorry.
A big rake of a man with an athletes physique, the consummate professional to boot, it’s not hard to see why the club nibbled and brought in the Israeli International. By the way, it’s to all our credit any race and creed is considered, being a mostly Pro-Palestine fanbase didn’t even come into the equation as it was a given he would be accepted into the family and judged solely on what he offered on the field of play, personal statements aside.
We know now, there were no personal statements. Nir got on with his job come rain or snow, fullstop. I never once heard or read him disparage either the club or the support over his long tenure, for who I’m thankful and he earns some respect.
Benched constantly, if he wanted to rock the boat he could have, but no, not his style. Never uttered a peep.
He proved a fantastic servant, nine years from a foreigner is a rarity, especially with the EPL being the ultimate goal in most cases.
He wasn’t a fantastic footballer though. More efficient than sparkling, solid rather than skillful, I dare say he was a good SPL player. Footballing wise I doubt he could make a huge step up. That bigger clubs never came calling helps sway my opinion on the matter, he was in the shop window for years with no takers, and wouldn’t have cost much.
Every squad needs squad players, Nir was ours. Dipping in and out isn’t for everyone, many players in their prime or wind down years .demand constant playing time, and often sign for the club that promises it even if a stepdown. For some reason, Nir was content to be a squad player. I like to think it was the buzz of being at a huge club winning silverware helped keep the fire alive, but that’s simple conjecture only behalf. The pay packet may have clinched, he’s more than likely earning less at his next club, most likely an Israeli team I believe.
Although he leaves with my sincere best wishes, I can’t say his departure is a bad thing. The holding midfielder the team needs, according to most who observe, is still to be signed, and any freeing up of squad space and wages is a positive on that front. A limited Nir had his chance, his long chance, to cement the position but failed under a string of managers and now it’s literally time to give the new man a try.
Anyhows, I reckon with a bit ofake-uphe could double as Spock in that new Star-Trek show. The very last I swear.
Live long and prosper Nir.
I’ll get my coat.
Actually, I can’t yet as this is a double tribute. Not only one but two bloody foreigners have went and jumped ship at the same time, the scallywags!
Actually, the timing is perfect, go out on a high and all that.
Tams gone, skipped off down under.
Here I am all these years later, and I’m still not sure about him as a player.
Yet, he delivered, a lot actually.
Part of my issue is this,,
unlike Nir, he was too good to be a squad player, yet not consistent enough to be a starter. He was in true footballing limbo, in that respect.
Purest examples being one of games against tough opposition. Ange stated his intent would always be to win, not draw, to go for the jugular. Theres little doubt Tam possessed an attacking instinct, and could produce moments of magic. His selection was natural.
Yet he was often marked out of these games. Aware he took one touch to set up the pass, most opponents stayed close and stopped him turning with the ball, keeping his back to goal where he’s at his least dangerous. He was invisible at Hampden recently, they played him just right. Many managers have.
Put him up against an average Aberdeen dropping deep and he had the world at his feet, here comes the highlight reel fillers. There was magic in those feet, but he needed to long sometimes to conjure up his wizardry. The Champions League would have been very unforgiving next year, if he was our main relative fulcrum.
I can’t see Ange risking such a luxury player in such a punishing competition if truth be told, so maybe a parting of the ways with head held high is for the best all around.
The signing and emergence of O’Reilly and to an extent young Master Turnbull shall only help push Tam down the pecking order, both offering more overall out on the park. Both much younger, an aging Tam must see the writing on the wall.
I must say, he’s in fantastic shape these days, and shall find a club somewhere nae bother, however just like the player above, with change comes opportunity. He was on decent wedge, one of the higher earners, so there’s more wage budget freed up. It’s strange to see the club allow two Internationals to walk out the door for free, but it’s the correct thing to do in the circumstances given the length of service, and we must credit the club with some honourable behavior. Hope it catches on.
If he returns to the A-League I fully expect a few spectaculars to be trending every season, the man has a lot to offer and may enjoy becoming the old head helping those younger try and eek a good living from the sport. It wouldn’t surprise me if he eventually began recommending players to the good, helping set up trials.
He might not play in the Hoops again, but don’t discount him helping the Hoops again in the future.
Finally, as the late great Bobby Ball used to say,,,
Rock On Tommy!
Oh, thanks for the memories.