3 things we learned as Celtic beat St Johnstone

By Euan Davidson

May 12, 2021

How frustrating Celtic Football Club can be.

Maybe it’s internalised guilt or some kind of egomania, but I do genuinely feel like they’re trying to spite me sometimes. After a day of drama, and a week and a half without a match, we’ve collectively forgotten how good this team can be. Turns out, prettttyyy, pretty good.

You can have all the caveats you like. St Johnstone are somewhat depleted, with Murray Davidson, Liam Craig and Stevie May missing out. Still, this is a very decent St Johnstone side. And honestly, it’d be trite to watch Celtic play well and complain.

It’d be Mark Lawrenson-esque. Lawrensonian. Like complaining about the napkins at a banquet.

Most importantly, though, what can John Kennedy and Celtic actually take from a very decent performance? One that featured the maligned Vasilis Barkas? A first-team debut for an Academy player? Perhaps most importantly, one that was Scott Brown’s last, at home, in the Green and White?

Well, it’s literally my job to tell you. Let’s discuss the 3 things we picked up as Celtic beat St Johnstone.

There’s Adam Montgomery. No.54. Look, there he is / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Celtic Academy man playing with utter confidence

I guess it’s probably easier to make a first-team debut with nobody in the stadium. However, Adam Montgomery will have known there’d be millions watching. He’d also be well aware that as supporters, we’re not a particularly cheerful bunch just now.

So, don’t be under any illusions, the pressure was on. Yet, Montgomery was immediately able to weave in and out with Mohamed Elyounoussi, and cover the driving runs of Shaun Rooney with such consummate ease that it seems ridiculous that it was his debut.

Let’s not get carried away, we might not have the next Kieran Tierney on our hands. But we’d settle for a decent approximation. Having Academy players who are able to step up saves us money, and it’s also something everyone can surely get behind.

A quick look at this touch map [WhoScored?] shows so much. Roving up and down the field, Montgomery was more than happy taking the ball on in either half. In the rare incidences when he ceded possession, it wasn’t in any dangerous areas. He’ll get better with experience.

He had the confidence to get forward and back, loft crosses into the box and played the modern full-back role, overlapping with vigour and help an energetic first XI work in synchronicity. So, put up all the barriers you want, but it’d be churlish to suggest anything but praise for young Adam Montgomery.

 

Vasilis Barkas’ Redemption Arc?

Jonjoe Kenny loves testing goalkeepers. Sadly, they’re ours.

Midway in the first-half, a scary moment emerged, with the on-loan right back nearly looping a header over Vasilis Barkas. The Greek goalie did well to pluck it from the air with one touch, and nestle it with the next. That’s the kind of heart-in-mouth moment the under-fire keeper wouldn’t have wanted from this match.

Barkas’ distribution was also considerably impressive. Always looking for the progressive pass, it’s remarkable how comfortable the Greek goalie looks with the ball at his feet. That’s something that will have attracted Celtic scouts in the first place.

It’s not over for Barkas by any means. This game may not have provided the sternest test, but it’s not like he was going to purposefully give the ball away for catching practice. There’s a future for him at the club.

David Turnbull is congratulated by his teammates / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

David Turnbull is the Celtic Player of the Year for a reason

We love David Turnbull here, and this was another performance that exemplified why.

The ex-Motherwell man just oozes class. His well-taken indirect free kick from inside the box (yes, inside the box, when does that happen?) got us going, and his link-up play with Ryan Christie was, at moments, sublime. In the first half alone, Turnbull boasted an impressive 58 touches, working well with the excellent Scott Brown in midfield.

It’s so sad we haven’t seen more of this. There’s a world where, next season, Callum McGregor is sitting in behind Turnbull and Christie, and it works to perfection. But Turnbull has to be the attacking focal point.

He was everywhere. Whether driving directly at defenders or passing around them, it was another vintage performance from the Wishaw-born POTY and YPOTY. We’re lucky to have him.

SPECIAL SHOUT-OUTS AND STRAY OBSERVATIONS:

  • Scott Brown’s pass for Edouard was legitimately filthy. Ditto French Eddy’s first touch and finish. Unreal.
  • Karamoko Dembele has very obviously bulked up. He could be a big deal next season.
  • Have we ever seen Scott Brown wear a jacket? Pass to Paradise are asking the big questions.

READ MORE: He deserves it, and the pieces are falling into place. Surely…?


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