|Shay Logan looks on with, er, admiration after Ryan Christie's stunning strike against Aberdeen|
In Dingwall this weekend, Inverness Caley Thistle will get a glimpse of what life after Ryan Christie will be like; a rather daft late red card blotted his copybook against Aberdeen and leaves him suspended for the Highland derby.
What a copybook, though. The twenty-year-old was unplayable against the Dons...in the first half, anyway (ICT spent the whole of the second period hanging on for grim death). The opening goal came as a result of a gorgeous dragback and turn that left a certain Aberdeen no. 3 for dead; those of us in the stand were still cooing at it when he played a perfect through pass with his next touch for Miles Storey to score. And then the second goal! He'd been so awesome up to that point that, when he got the ball, I said to the person next to me "he should have a go, the way he's playing it'll probably go in". Not like me to get a prediction right...
How good has Christie been this season? Well, Inverness have scored nine goals in their opening nine league games. He has scored three of them, and tallied five assists. That leaves one goal that he hasn't set up - Storey's late strike against Hearts.
So life without Ryan Christie will be pretty scary. But it's going to happen sooner or later, as of course Celtic signed him on deadline day before loaning him back to the Highlanders with an opportunity to recall him in January. The way he's playing, it's unthinkable that Ronny Deila won't drag him down to Glasgow for the second half of the season.
Will Christie prosper at Celtic, or will he be the latest in a long string of decent young Scots to stagnate on an Old Firm bench? I feel quite optimistic about his chances, actually. Many a time I've watched him and thought that he was often a step or two ahead of his teammates; lots of apparently stray passes would have been good ones had colleagues been anywhere near his wavelength. His strongest point is his instinct for finding space in between the lines. Now he has a quick, mobile striker (Storey) ahead of him, forcing defenders to play deeper, those little pockets are a lot easier to find, certainly in comparison to when the stationary Dani Lopez was playing up front back in August.
So just imagine the damage Christie could do when surrounded by superior talent. I see him as a natural successor to Kris Commons - playing in the hole, always wanting the ball, a threat for a goal or an assist even when the team aren't playing well.
That's not to say he doesn't have any flaws though. A summer in the gym wouldn't go amiss, both to build his upper body strength and to improve his stamina so he can get through 90 minutes. Too often he is knackered at the end of games, which results in silly fouls like the one that got him sent off against Aberdeen. And his penchant for going down too easily (although, given the kicking he took from Aberdeen and Hamilton Accies, he may be anticipating getting hacked) sticks in the craw a bit.
But there is no question in my mind that this kid is going to be special. Heck, he's special already, the most talented player Caley Thistle have ever produced. I can't believe Celtic only paid half a million for him. And I dread the day that my team, already bereft of Billy Mckay, Marley Watkins and Graeme Shinnie from this time last year, has to do without Christie as well. I just hope they have plenty of points on the board by the end of December...
Lawrie Spence (LS) has ranted and spouted his ill-informed opinions on Narey's Toepoker since September 2007. He has a life outside this blog. Honestly.