It was Saturday evening, his Motherwell side had just beaten Kilmarnock, and there were still three hours or so left until the Scottish transfer window closed. Was he expecting to do anything else that night? "Yeah, I am," he said with a deadpan expression, as most neutral hearts in the room sank at the prospect of a late night waiting for any Motherwell arrival to be ratified. "I think I'll go for a beer."
It seems he wasn't the only one who had decided business time was over. Anyone hoping for late drama as clubs "swooped" or "splashed out" in the closing hours or minutes would have been very much disappointed. For all the fanfare and drama which accompanied deadline day in England yesterday, this was a tame imitation. By the time the midnight curfew came around - 48 hours earlier than most of
Europe after the Scottish Football Association decreed Saturday a normal working day - the busiest club had been Annan Athletic, who had secured three players on loan.
The SPFL Premiership clubs had either been thwarted in their attempts to bolster their squad or had simply decided enough was enough and gone to the pub, perhaps frustrated that the early closure meant there would be no chance to entice players from England once those clubs had finished their own business.
Celtic, not surprisingly, conducted their affairs throughout the summer at a financial level the other 11 clubs could only dream about. Players arrived for millions of pounds and were sold for even bigger numbers, with Hibernian the only other club to pay a notable transfer fee when they spent £200,000 to sign James Collins from Swindon Town. Celtic lost the spine of their team - Kelvin Wilson, Victor Wanyama and Gary Hooper - for a total of around £19m and replaced them at a fraction of the cost. Neil Lennon's unsuccessful pursuit of Peterborough United's Lee Tomlin and Alex Buttner of Manchester United on the final day suggested he felt improvement in his squad was still needed, although how effectively Celtic have done their business will be measured by how they fare in a tough Champions League group. A fraught European campaign could leave them open to the accusation that the club did not spend enough in the summer, although had they done so and not qualified for the group stage it would have seemed like overkill to win a league championship in which there is no genuine competition.
Celtic, then, continue to suffer from Gulliver's Travels Syndrome - too big for the rest of Scottish football and too small, financially, to compete with the elite of Europe. The club continued its recent policy of staying away from signing more high-profile, established figures - there were no Robbie or Roy Keanes this time around - although there was only one signing, the Israeli Nir Biton, to arrive from one of the more remote football markets. The rest were sourced from Portugal, the Netherlands, England and Germany, although all come with potential future sell-on value.
There is little of that long-term planning where the other 11 Premiership clubs were concerned. Their priority in the window was to find a way to improve their squads while remaining within the parameters of a tightly-controlled budget, the hope always that the net result is a group of players better than the one that finished the previous campaign.
For new managers, the window is a chance to finally put their own mark on the club, hence the
raft of changes implemented by Derek McInnes at Aberdeen, Jackie McNamara at Dundee United,
Allan Johnston at Kilmarnock, Alan Archibald at Partick Thistle and Tommy Wright at St Johnstone. In the case of McNamara and Johnston, in particular, the squad revamp was largely influenced by
a need to drive down costs. Johnston admitted after Saturday's game that his rebuilding work is still not complete and he will now turn his attention to the free agent market to try to augment his options following a difficult start to the season.
Terry Butcher takes the prize for the most imaginative signing strategy, the Inverness Caledonian Thistle manager sending scout Steve Marsella all around the English lower and non-leagues to look for potential recruits. As many as 10 new faces duly arrived, although so far only goalkeeper Dean Brill and forward James Vincent have forced their way into the team on a regular basis. Neighbours Ross County were also busy, recruiting extensively from the Netherlands while also adding experienced figures deemed surplus at other Scottish clubs.
Pat Fenlon continues to search for the right formula for Hibs. Leigh Griffiths was always going to be
nigh impossible to replace, although the hope is that Collins and Paul Heffernan will between them step
up to the mark. In contrast, Hearts had no option but to go with what was left following a turbulent summer, with Gary Locke left in charge of the youngest squad in the division.
St Mirren, like many others, looked to the loan market to bolster their numbers at a reduced rate, bringing in goalkeeper David Cornell, right-back Jake Caprice and forward Stephane Bahoken. Having paid off a number of first-team players and let others leave for free, they are now working with a reduced group and relying on youth players to bolster their number, prudent business but not particularly exciting. Much like most of the transfer window in Scotland.