John Hartson delivers verdict on Postecoglou's big Celtic goalkeeper call

By Euan Davidson

July 28, 2021

Former Celtic striker John Hartson has given his take on the Bhoys’ goalkeeper dilemma.

Vasilis Barkas had been entrusted with the gloves for the first leg against Midtjylland. After a poor response to a set piece, which led to the Danes’ only goal, he was equally unsure of himself against West Ham United.

Postecoglou therefore chose Scott Bain to start in the Champions League Qualifiers tonight. However, Bain has struggled to convince Celtic supporters of his qualities, too.

Speaking on Premier Sports, Hartson gave a frank assessment of Celtic’s options.

He said [Premier Sports 28/7/21 18:22]:

“I think Bain is slightly better than Barkas. Not by a million miles by the way. [Postecoglou] started the season with Barkas last week, he’s made a complete howler. Chris [Sutton] said earlier he could save that!

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“I wouldn’t be raving over either goalkeeper. For the team to go and challenge, and to respond from last season’s walloping, what we got in the league, you need a good goalkeeper.

“‘Cause a goalkeeper’s massive in terms of the points that he can save you. And making big crucial saves at big times of games.”

John Hartson, like Celtic supporters, left uneasy by goalkeeper situation

To say it’s not a hugely comfortable situation for Celtic supporters would be under-playing it a bit. For most of the last season, the Bhoys seemed to be unsure of which goalkeeper would play week-to-week.

Even young Conor Hazard was thrown in for big games. Most notably, the Scottish Cup Final, when his penalty saves helped the Bhoys to secure a Quadruple Treble.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Barkas, who arrived in 2020 for around £4.5m [BBC], just hasn’t established a decent run of form for Celtic as of yet. Bain has impressed in flashes, but has struggled in big games. Notably, he struggled against Sparta Prague and Rangers during 20-21.

So John Hartson is right; perhaps it should’ve been the priority for Ange Postecoglou. While there are plenty of Celtic supporters who wanted Barkas to do well, with a fresh start, he still doesn’t look Celtic quality. He’s certainly short of confidence.

Celtic have been linked with Joe Hart today. The former Manchester City goalkeeper, with 75 England caps, has been the understudy to Hugo Lloris at Tottenham Hotspur.

The Bhoys are reportedly in talks with Spurs over the Shrewsbury-born stopper [Fabrizio Romano].

But whoever Celtic bring in, John Hartson is right. A reliable goalkeeper makes an enormous difference. Here’s hoping the Bhoys can do some business soon.

In the first half, Bain didn’t have an awful lot to do in terms of saves. But on the ball, he seemed happy to take possession further up the pitch. He even showed a bit of flair, and did what little he needed to do quite tidily.

In a cagey affair, Anthony Ralston stated his case for inclusion, linking well with Liel Abada. Chances were scarce, but Midtjylland did give the Bhoys an early scare, with the ball hitting the top of the net in the first fifteen minutes.

Read more: Ange Postecoglou’s message for Celtic youngsters