Scotland and Capitalism have a famous history. Adam Smith penning the Wealth of Nations on Kircaldy Bay, and wee Gordy Brown bailing out the banks in 2008; but neither comes close to matching the greatness of Glasgow’s finest financial navigator: our own Dougie Freedman.
I grew up in the Freedman years, when his role in the Stockport game, not to mention Sunderland, Brighton et al had him plastered on my walls like a benevolent deity. His move into management was bumpy, but his shrewd eye for a bargain – Murray and Delaney for nothing, Bolasie for 250k, Jedinak for some raw meat and a Tango orange – left the impression of a man who could walk into a junkyard and cruise out in a Rolls.
But then. Oh lord. Bolton still lingers like a dark cloud around his name. The many Freedman chants that once chorused around the Selhurst terraces are gone, which in a sign of football’s surreal moral compass, hasn’t even happened to Roman Abramovich at Chelsea, even though Dougie’s move up north had far less, if any, impact on Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
His departure still mystifies me. It was like someone in my family died. But now he’s back it’s even weirder, like walking into the living room and finding the withered corpse of my Uncle Tone on the sofa eating hobnobs and watching football.
His success as Director of Football, however, is indisputable. In reappointing him, Parish has shown levels of forgiveness that outweigh the acts of Jesus, Mohammed and Buddha combined, and I’m content to pass the whole thing off as some sadistic master plan. Dougie is God, and I am Abraham, killing my firstborn as a test of unwavering loyalty. It feels wrong, but if he replaces Gallagher, then show me the jugular.
It is hard to actually think of a bad signing he has made. But even amongst a thoroughbred stable, one player stands out as being so ludicrously cheap I question how it could’ve legally happened at all. Michael Olise, £8 million from Reading: the footballing equivalent of chucking a tenner down an alleyway in Amsterdam and Margot Robbie walking out. In less than a year, his value has probably increased by 500%. He’s like Bitcoin, and my only fear is that, like crypto, he’ll be bought up by a mystery rogue state before long.
If he is though, we can rest safe in the knowledge that our canny Jock’s nose will already be sniffing out another bargain. In he, Parish and Wilf, we may have three figures who have contributed more than any to the development of our football club. Let’s savour them while they’re still here.