Overrated or underrated: Scott Allan (Celtic)

August 21, 2015

The first edition of Overrated or Underrated in the 2015/16 campaign had to be about the man everyone’s still talking about.

celtic scott allan2

Gary Cocker (@gary_cocker)

As with any player thrust into the maelstrom of a Glasgow-based transfer battle, it’s easy to come to a warped conclusion about whether Scott Allan is truly “worthy” of the attention. There’s no doubt the lad is talented – he was the stand-out performer for Hibs in last year’s Championship to the extent that he looked as out of place there as Virgil Van Dijk does in the Premiership – but by what parameters do we judge him?

If he were to sign for any team in the Premiership other than Celtic, it would have to be considered a great piece of business. My reservations are not about his potential; anybody who has watched Allan play knows that he has the ability to both spot and execute a killer pass at a level beyond those of his former colleagues. He was the fulcrum of the Hibs midfield with so much of their play flowing through him and his departure will be keenly felt at Easter Road.

However, I’m not sure if he’s ready to make that additional step up to playing immediately for the champions, and if being a smaller fish in a bigger pond will suit both his psyche and style of play. Last season was the first sustained period of stability that Allan’s had since leaving Dundee United for the bright lights of West Brom in 2012, and although he undoubtedly has potential it’s something of a leap to assume that one season in the second tier – however impressive it may have been – is ample preparation for the psychological demands foisted upon those playing in the Celtic goldfish bowl.

For Celtic, it’s admittedly a fairly risk-free gamble. What they’ve paid Hibs is about a fifth of what they stumped up for Amido Balde and ten per cent of what they shelled out for Stefan Scepovic, and if Allan doesn’t progress and develop over the next few years then at least the pleasure of derailing a Rangers transfer bid will soothe their losses. However, if he can fulfil his potential, then they’ve signed a young Scott Brown for a snip of the price AND enraged their rivals into the bargain. What’s not to like for them?!

In my opinion, it’s impossible to land on an entirely fair judgement of Allan, given his limited time back in the second tier of the Scottish game and the hype surrounding his current situation. Maybe it’s just my bloody-minded reaction to the media circus that’s currently in full swing, but I can’t help but feel that Scott Allan is just one of a large group of promising young players – Ryan Christie, Stuart Armstrong, Greg Stewart and Kenny McLean all spring to mind – rather than belonging in a league of his own.

Vote: Overrated

Kris Jack (@krisjack85)

Whenever I think of Scott Allan (which admittedly hadn’t been very often until this summer), the one word that comes to mind is ‘potential’.

His fleeting appearances for Dundee United were laced with so much of the stuff that a move to the English Premiership came along pretty damn quickly for a lad that had played under 10 first team matches for the Terrors. Granted, training at a higher level, with a better calibre of player and coaches at West Brom should have, in theory, unlocked more of his potential, but being farmed out elsewhere, without ever featuring for his parent club, suggests that Allan never showed he could live up to the potential that had taken him to the Midlands in the first place.

It was no surprise to see him sign on for Hibernian’s attack on the Championship last season. Like so many before him, the allure of the English game had failed to reap the best from another young Scottish talent, with Edinburgh a destination he probably didn’t expect to see on his CV quite so soon after leaving Scotland. However, a stand out season for the Hibees has seen him become the hottest commodity in Scottish Football. Potentially, as cliched as it is to say it, Scottish Fitba may just be Allan’s level.

Thankfully, for him at least, that will be the upper echelons of our game, having officially been unveiled at Parkhead on Saturday. Where he’ll fit in to Ronny Deila’s midfield is still up for debate, as displacing those currently ahead of him will initially be a big ask. Much has been said of late about Celtic’s reputation of pillaging the best players from clubs around them, but Deila hasn’t bought to weaken the opposition, he’s done so to strengthen his own side, with GMS, Armstrong and Ciftci all featuring as much as they can. Potentially, moving to the East End of Glasgow is the best thing for Allan, as he’ll be made to work in order to be a success there, and if he does so, it may just open up the doors to a England once more.

So, in short, I’d say that so far, Scott Allan has been a tad over-rated, given where he’s been and all it’s taken to get him there. However, the potential is definitely there for him to live up to his current billing.

Vote: Overrated

Craig Cairns (@craigcairns001)

Scott Allan is a difficult one to judge. On the one hand he tore the Championship apart last season, culminating in his player of the year award. On the other he has only performed to that level for one season, save for a limited amount of performances for Dundee United before his disastrous spell down south.

But he acknowledged his failings in that decision as he signed for Hibernian, who made a slow start to last season as Allan found his feet among his new teammates. When he hit his stride, Hibs did, though even he couldn’t get them over the finishing line in the Scottish Cup or the chase for promotion.

The 23-year-old certainly possesses qualities that his new manager admires. Whether or not he can turn him into a pressing machine like his other forward players, remains to be seen. The reverse pass Allan has in his locker will certainly suit the Celtic attackers and their off-the-ball movement. Whatever his role in the side, I am certain that Deila would not have purchased him if he didn’t have a plan for the midfielder.

For now I am willing to give Allan the benefit of the doubt. Deila will need to utilise a large part of his squad this season, meaning Allan should get some first-team opportunities fairly soon. He certainly improves the squad of players Deila has at his disposal.

Vote: Underrated

Craig Fowler (@craigfowler86)

It’s easy to call Allan overrated when you strip it down to the bare facts: he’s a 23-year-old who’s played less than 10 games at the top flight level and he hasn’t even come close to representing Scotland at senior level, and yet no other player demanded more column inches this summer. There’s no doubt there’s a lot of hype accompanying a lot of ‘what ifs’.

Calling Allan overrated, in my opinion, is allowing oneself to become distracted by the hoopla and not concentrating on the football. Paradoxically, many of those stirring the pot now seem to be writing him off as a ‘bench warmer’ following the completion of his move to Celtic. Make no mistake about it, if Allan can become the player he’s always threatened to be under Deila’s tutelage, then you’re looking at a Player of the Year winner, 50+ caps for Scotland, the subject of a multi-million move and someone who can dictate the flow of matches in the Champions League. It sounds extreme when laid out like that, but that’s basically the career of Scott Brown.

It’s almost hard to describe why I rate him so highly. He just has ‘it’. The something extra that elevates you from merely having talent to being a star. Every footballer at the professional level has talent. Very few can grab a game by the balls and influence its destiny like Allan can when he’s on form.

He’s not the finished article yet, but nobody is pretending he is. 23 may sound old, but he’s a young 23, meaning he lacks maturity and experience because he’s played much fewer games. In football years he’s realistically only 20, perhaps 21, having played less than 100 times in his career. There’s still a lot of growing to be done but he’s already a really good Premiership midfielder. Of course, there’s no proof of that yet, but have a look around. Rory Low, Kevin Holt, Osman Sow, Alim Ozturk, Ian McShane, Jamie McDonald, I could go on. All players who played in the Championship last season, all excelling in the top flight this term.

And none of them were as good as Scott Allan.

Vote: Underrated

Conclusion

It’s a tie, so the final verdict will be left in the hands of judge Duncan McKay (@DuncMcKay):

Ultimately, I feel that Scott Allan is an underrated prospect within Scottish football.

Yes, there was an incredible amount of hype about the player over the summer in the most tedious transfer saga since the Elgin Marbles, but when his signing was announced by Celtic the reaction was strange. There was talk about how he would struggle for game time, that he’d effectively signed to sit on a bench. Obviously, I must be watching Celtic in a parallel universe because the Allan I watched last season was a significantly better player than both Tom Rogic and James Forrest, two players currently holding down starting XI berths in Celtic’s league games.

Allan is clearly a prickly player – circumstances have dictated that he hasn’t stayed at any club for a prolonged period of time. This move to Celtic provides him with financial security and a platform to build on some fabulous performances last season for Hibernian. There will be a noticeable difference in the quality of players he will be sharing a midfield with.

The environment and set-up at Lennoxtown and Celtic Park are a perfect platform for Scott Allan to blossom on. Of his talent, I have no doubt that Allan is a under-rated quality. The question is whether he has the mental fortitude to flourish.

VERDICT: UNDERRATED

 

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