Alan Stubbs believes John Lundstram was a perfect Celtic transfer as he went lyrical on new Rangers executor


Alan Stubbs believes John Lundstram would have been perfect for Celtic’s rebuilding.

The former defender of the Hoops is therefore still in the process of reconciling with his former protégé of Everton with the Rangers.

Stubbs coached Lundstram when he was considered one of England’s best young talents. He helped bring the silly teenager from Liverpool to Goodison’s ranks for four years.

Lundstram’s progress came to a halt in front of the Toffees’ first team a year after Stubbs left to manage Hibs.

But he admires the midfielder’s run in the English divisions to toughen up, scoring at all levels, before a breakthrough with great fanfare with Sheffield United.

But it is by gritting his teeth that he congratulates the 27-year-old on his arrival at Ibrox.

Stubbs is convinced Lundstram would have helped fill some of the void left by Scott Brown’s departure from Celtic.

Instead, he made Steven Gerrard’s midfielder even better than last season.

Stubbs admitted: “It’s a great deal for Rangers, capitalizing on a free transfer. Over the past three years, John has performed very well with Sheffield United, playing in the Premier League.

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“I’m sure John would have had options to stay in England. I am delighted that he is transferred to Rangers, a club that goes up to the top.

“But I just wish he had signed for the team across Glasgow.

“He certainly brings steel, real substance and motivation, to a midfielder. Scott Brown has done all of this and more for Celtic.

“I’m not saying John is exactly Broony’s type of player, but he’s a winner.

“And in terms of the impact it can have on a team, that’s what Celtic is going to have to try to find after losing Scott.”

Even had the Celts approached the auction table, a key factor would have kept Lundstram away from Parkhead.

Stubbs recalls how Lundstram’s true colors were hidden by donning Everton blue from the age of eight.

He said: “The Gerrard Factor and working with someone he idolized as a kid certainly would have played a part in John’s decision. It might not have played a big part because, at the end of the day, you’re here to play football.

“But with Steven being one of the best, if not the best, midfielders then work with someone who you think can make you
better it is for him.

Celtic TV expert Alan Stubbs

“We used to finish John a bit at Everton because we knew he was a Liverpool fan at heart.”

Lundstram made the difficult decision to walk away from Everton and his high-flying dreams in 2015. After a few loan moves in the leagues, he moved to Oxford United in League Two for good.

He helped them get promoted and then moved on to the Championship to join Chris Wilder’s Blades two years later for £ 700,000.

Stubbs has always believed that Lundstram possessed Premier League quality.

And he showed it with powerful displays and five goals for United in 2019/20 as they caused plenty of shocks on their way to ninth place.

Stubbs recalls: “John used to hang out with Ross Barkley when they were kids and they did well in midfield.

“The hype around Ross just eclipsed John, probably affecting him a bit in terms of his confidence. John was more reserved, let his football do the talking, but was with England throughout the levels as an automatic pick, a pillar for them.

“Playing in midfield was, on the contrary, too comfortable for him. We wanted to do more to challenge him.

“He had a really good pass range, could use both feet and always had an eye for the goal.

“I have always loved him. He was still very fit and I felt he would become a real athlete.

“He took a few loans but took a break to continue to develop and catch up with his body.

“The loans made him realize that he was going to have to stop being a boy and be a man, which is why a lot of kids fail.

“They think it’s an automatic transition from academy to professional. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“We all thought John had a good chance of doing it, but it didn’t materialize.

“Leaving was the best thing because he had to go and play football regularly. He continued to build a good career and did very well.

Sheffield United’s success story sank last season as Lundstram was at a contractual stalemate with the club. They were relegated with a record six games to go, but there was no committed display from Lundstram.

Stubbs believes his style will be a huge hit with Rangers fans and his locker room colleagues. He said: “John’s energy is a big factor. He just continued to outrun his opponents at Everton. He’ll cover great distances for the Rangers, he’s always been there with those stats.

“I’m not sure he brings anything that the Rangers midfielder lacked, but he adds a little more steel and completes what they have.

“You already have technical and intelligent footballers like Steven Davis and Glen Kamara at the club.

“John is more focused on driving, running strong, athleticism and advancement. They’re going to want legs around Davis. He’s not getting any younger, although from last season’s performances you wouldn’t have thought so!

“But he’s used to invading you. It might be unrealistic to expect him to play around 40 games. This is where Ryan Jack comes in, Kamara if he stays and others around him like Scott Arfield in a more advanced role.


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