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Ranking Africa's Premier League flops

By ESPN Staff

Strachan raps agent over Pearson leak

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan has blamed agent Willie McKay for bringing Stephen Pearson's predicament at the club into the public domain.

The 24-year-old has started only six games for the Hoops this season and, earlier in the week, McKay claimed Strachan had 'reluctantly agreed' to let the player go in January 'if the price is right'.

The agent is currently embroiled in a on-going, public spat with Hibernian in his bid to get Scott Brown and Kevin Thomson an increase in wages.

But Strachan, speaking ahead of the visit of Aberdeen in the Bank of Scotland Premier League, insists he wants Pearson to stay.

He said: 'Stephen and I had a private conversation and it was fantastic.

'But guess what? He told his agent. And they just can't keep out of it.

'Willie is a lovely fellow, but you cannot tell Willie a secret or out he goes, because they have got an ego as well, they have to be seen.

'Stephen is an absolute gem, I would love him to stay, but I understand his worries at the moment. Not a problem.'

Derek Riordan is another player who is rumoured to be on the move in the January transfer window after failing to pin down a regular first-team place since arriving from Hibs in the summer.

Strachan was irked at the attention being paid to the striker and said: 'I don't know if he is unhappy. Is anybody who doesn't get a game unhappy?

'I wouldn't be happy if I wasn't getting a game.

'It's how you handle not playing. But he has been all right for me.

'You can talk about everybody. Let's talk about Jiri (Jarosik) when he wasn't playing.

'We just seem to have this pre-occupation with local players, nobody gave two hoots about Jiri when he was out.

'What Jiri did was play away. He didn't complain, he just tried with the best of his ability and he is now reaping the benefits.'

The former Coventry and Southampton boss refused to comment on speculation about players who may be arriving at Parkhead in the New Year.

However, chief scout Ray Clarke revealed on-loan Falkirk striker Anthony Stokes has been targeted by the Hoops, which did not go down well with the Parkhead boss.

Strachan said: 'Hasn't he just (been quoted)? We must have a word, me and Ray. But I'm not talking about any targets.'

Strachan remained on the defensive when talking about the club's future.

Chief executive Peter Lawwell commented in midweek about his desire to grow the Celtic 'brand' world wide and pointed to Poland internationals, Maciej Zurawski and Artur Boruc, Japan midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura and former Republic of Ireland captain Roy Keane, as evidence of the Hoops' desire to increase their profile.

But Strachan insists ability will be the only criteria any future signings will be judged on.

He said: 'It's too complicated for me. I'm just simply a coach and I just get on with it.

'There's no other agenda when I'm signing players other than if they have the ability and they want to be here.

'I'm concentrating on the younger ones, to see what we can bring through first.

'If we get better deals elsewhere, then we are open-minded.'