Exclusive: Jackie McNamara hails Joe Hart as "massive signing" for Celtic

By Euan Davidson

August 19, 2021

Celtic legend Jackie McNamara has heralded the club for bring in English goalkeeper Joe Hart.

Hart was again colossal between the sticks against AZ Alkmaar. Dealing with shots from close range, as well as claiming crosses with comfort, the 75-cap Englishman used all of his experience to grab another clean sheet for the Bhoys.

The former Premier League Golden Glove winner has had a difficult few seasons since leaving Manchester City. However, he’s already showing the Paradise faithful just why he’s had such a decorated career.

His presence has no doubt helped the defence, while bringing an overall leadership and command that’s solidified a recently wobbly back-line.

Speaking on the difference a solid goalkeeper makes, McNamara said:

“I think that comes with just that reassurance. The crosses coming in that he comes and takes, or a shot, as a defender you’re kind of half looking round and you just turn and automatically think “that’s the goalkeeper’s”. That’s his area, that’s his domain.

Celtic 2-0 AZ Alkmaar | LIVE Reaction

Celtic 2-0 AZ Alkmaar | LIVE Reaction

“I don’t think the defence has had that since Fraser Forster was there. And for the fans, sometimes it translates onto the pitch from the stands. Just knowing you’ve got a safe pair of hands there, someone that’s calm, that’s organised.

“I think he’s a massive signing, Hart. Even though we had three goalkeepers. That’s been a massive signing as well, for the club.”

McNamara predicts Postecoglou will be keen to keep up momentum

Regarding our next match, against St Mirren on Saturday, Jackie McNamara predicted there wouldn’t be wholesale changes in the squad from Wednesday night.

McNamara said:

“I don’t think he’ll change too much, I think he’ll want to keep that momentum going. That’s five wins on the bounce now, and with each game I think they’re getting stronger.

“The first half against Hearts was just incredible. The amount of chances, and energy, just having them penned in. You go back to the game at Tynecastle, the difference in a few weeks. With just putting things across to the players, and fitness. And the biggest thing is having fans back in the stadium.

“That’s an extra player.”

Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images

Jackie McNamara gives a former defender’s perspective on Celtic stopper Joe Hart

It’s generally fascinating listening to Jackie McNamara, foremost because he’s a personal hero from my childhood. But his insights on what it means to have a good goalkeeper behind you are valuable here, and quite damning of what came before Hart.

With hindsight, it’s fair to say Barkas and Bain just didn’t have the vocal command needed to cut through the noise at Celtic. Barkas has the excuse of not being comfortable with the language.

But as a player who’s worked alongside Scottish and Swedish international goalkeepers, McNamara’s input on the position, and the confidence it instills – or doesn’t – in a defence is interesting. And, it totally stands to reason.

It’s evident in the performances of Welsh and Ralston, for example. In the confidence that the defenders play with, and the understanding they’re building with each other.

Not having to worry too much about someone making saves behind them can only make them more comfortable in what they’re doing. There’s inherently less pressure if you know there’s a goalkeeper who’s very much in charge of the 18-yard box.

If it seems obvious, fair enough. But it’s an integral difference between this season and last, already. It’s not even September and the changes in our defence are stark.

In other news: Celtic rebuff offers from Premier League outfit