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Managers queue up to give McCourt opinions
Managers queue up to give McCourt opinions
Monday, 23rd Jun 2008 06:04

It would seem that everybody has an opinion on Paddy's move to Celtic, with a whole host of managers coming out and having their say on the Irish winger's transfer to the Scottish champions.

First up was Paddy's old manager at Derry City. Derry boss Stephen Kenny told the press over the weekend: "The only surprise about this move is that Celtic left it late to sign him. He is fantastic to work with and there has not been a player of his type in Ireland in the past 30 years,

"My message to Celtic fans who haven't seen him is that you are getting a player you'll enjoy watching. He's different to most players in that he's faster with the ball than without, and he will do the unexpected. Paddy McCourt can be matchwinner - a real entertainer.

"Paddy struggles athletically, in that he's not the best ever. In terms of cardiovascular ability, he's limited. Some people have a real capacity to run endurance, but Paddy works in bursts of speed. It's a step up going to Celtic, in terms of the standard - but that's the challenge."

“We certainly won't be able to replace him at Derry. Celtic are getting a free spirit. He is a real one off. He is probably the most talented player I have ever worked with. Technically, he is brilliant.

“Perhaps he doesn't have the greatest lung capacity or stamina. He isn't going to win any long-distance races. But he makes up for that weakness in other ways.

“He's a player you wouldn't normally associate with Ireland or the UK. He can play on either flank or through the middle and he is a dribbler. He can go right or left and is very sharp. You won't see many like him because he is a free spirit. He runs quicker with the ball than without it and he really is that exciting. He deserves to play at a higher level.

“He is not blessed with natural stamina. He needs to work hard to be fit but he has speed to burn. He is a right-footed player who can play on either side of the team. To be honest, he is just as dangerous on the left wing as he is on the right wing. I have played him through the centre in a 4-3-2-1 formation with Derry City this season and he has done extremely well for us in that role.

“He isn't a prolific scorer, but he will weigh in with a few. He will certainly set up many more for his team mates with crosses into the box from out wide. His style is more like a South American. In terms of natural talent he is the best player I have worked with.”

Another former manager who has come out and spoken to the press about Paddy's move to Celtic is Roddy Collins. The former Carlisle manager was the one who signed Paddy after he left Spotland, taking him to Dublin based Shamrock Rovers.

Collins said: "Paddy is a sensational player, an outstanding talent. He is a more natural footballer than McGeady and I'm serious about that. Managers have played him as a winger but he's better behind the front where he can kill teams on his own.
"I just know Paddy is going to be one of the all-time Celtic legends.

"I spoke to him on Wednesday night and he told me there were a few clubs looking at him and not just West Brom. He didn't mention Celtic to me. What he did say was that he wasn't going to get much sleep. If I had known he had spoken to Celtic he wouldn't have got a wink. I'd have driven to Derry and taken him to Glasgow myself.

"I still remember the first time I saw him. He was in the Rochdale reserves and there are times in your life in sport when you see someone really special - and that was Paddy. He took on players for fun that day and I knew he had something few others possess. Celtic fans might not know him now. They soon will."

Former Dale boss Paul Simpson who managed Paddy back in 2002-3 was also heavily featured in the press. Despite being wrong labelled as a former Man City boss and also as being the man who "discovered" Paddy, he told the Daily Record: "On his game, Paddy is an awesome talent but when things aren't going for him his body language suggests he looks a million miles away. But he's not really - that's just his manner.

"He's typical of most young footballers - he needs an arm round his shoulders and to be encouraged. He goes around looking like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders but that's just the kind of appearance he gives.

He said: "If you play him wide and the team aren't doing well, service to him is restricted. And if he can't get the ball he can't do his stuff. Paddy can play on the wing or in the hole behind the strikers, where he can influence how much time he gets on the ball."

And even international managers were in there having their say. Current Morecambe boss Sammy McIlroy was in charge of Northern Ireland when he gave McCourt his international debut against Spain. He was full of praise for the Derry born winger, saying: "Hopefully, Gordon Strachan can get Paddy playing to his strengths again. It depends on the boy's attitude but Celtic could be the kick-start he needs. He would have a better chance of first-team football at Parkhead than he would if he had gone to a Premiership club."

And if all those former managers weren't enough, you also had managers who nearly managed him. Former Celtic player and Norwich manager Peter Grant told the media: 'When I was coaching at Bournemouth, Pat was at Rochdale and there was no chance we could have afforded him at that time but I've kept an eye on him ever since because his imagination made him stand out in the lower leagues.

'He is one I might have looked to bring to Norwich had I stayed there longer. His was a name that was always to the forefront of my mind because I knew he was back in Ireland and doing well.

'There is a fearlessness about Pat taking people on and I liked the fact that he wasn't scared to try something different. He can unlock a defence and that is something you don' t find too often these days when football is so regimented. He had that wee bit extra, a "wow" factor.'

'You have to look at the likes of Kightly, who Mick McCarthy signed for Wolves from Grays Athletic last year. He's 22. I think Mick paid £25,000 - now there are Premier League teams in England prepared to offer millions.

'Sometimes, these types of players find it more difficult to play in the lower leagues because of the very physical nature of the game there. They need that wee break and might become better players at a higher level where they get a little more freedom.

'But it is down to the individuals to improve on their end product once they have taken someone on. Can they make that final pass?

'People always questioned Pat's consistency in that regard but he was only a kid when he was in England. He has probably grown up a lot now and is ready for another challenge. It is not about where he has come from. It is about what he can offer Celtic in certain situations."

 

Photo: Action Images



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