Ange Postecoglou sets James McCarthy an important Celtic challenge

By David Walton

September 23, 2021

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou has urged James McCarthy to rise to the challenge and silence his Parkhead critics.

McCarthy was subject of a concerning report earlier this week. Kieran Devlin from the Athletic claimed that the Republic of Ireland international had been struggling to get to grips with Postecoglou’s Celtic training. In addition to that, it was reported that he wasn’t a signing target sanctioned by the Hoops boss.

This all came on the back of a disappointing first Celtic start at Livingston on Sunday. McCarthy, along with the vast majority of his teammates, failed to turn up in West Lothian.

Photo by Mateo Villalba/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Interestingly, however, Postecoglou didn’t particularly move to shield his midfield star. Instead, he challenged him to win over his doubters and show he deserves his place here.

As quoted by The Scotsman, the Celtic boss said: “Fair or unfair, James is a big boy and I’m sure he’s had plenty of criticism in his career, and it was his first game.

“He will be the first to admit he didn’t have a great one but there were plenty of others alongside him who would also admit the same. I didn’t have a great day at the office, mate. That’s just what happens sometimes.

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“We’re not going to sit here feeling sorry for ourselves because some people didn’t like what we did at the weekend. We have a responsibility as a whole group to go out there against Raith Rovers and represent our club and our supporters. Those kind of opinions can change pretty quickly. I’m sure James is aware of that.”

James McCarthy reaction overblown; Celtic midfielder needs time

Mccarthy was dreadful against Livingston. But you can count the impressive performers with about three fingers at most.

For some reason, it feels as though a lot of the responsibility has fallen on his shoulders. Why that’s the case isn’t too clear. The report earlier this week certainly heightened things, but plenty were questioning his signing even between that article and the full-time whistle.

What appears to have been forgotten is McCarthy’s recent cameo appearances. The former Everton and Crystal Palace man impressed against Ross County a couple of weeks ago, playing a key role in the third goal in the process.

Photo by ANP Sport via Getty Images

He also put in a solid showing away to Betis when he came on too. He provided the midfield with some balance and stayed composed as Celtic looked to bring themselves back into the game. These cameo outings might as well not have happened given the reaction to the Livi game.

Don’t be surprised if Postecoglou throws McCarthy back into the mix tonight. A match at home to Raith Rovers, with all due respect, could be the kind of fixture he desperately needs. The kind of match that can get fans back talking about him positively again.

It’s far too early to be judging the summer signing. It’s early days and he clearly isn’t at 100% with regards to his fitness just yet. Here’s hoping he can turn things around quickly – he doesn’t deserve the early flak coming his way.

In other news, Raith Rovers manager John McGlynn has been bigging up the current Celtic talent