Celtic midfielder Matt O'Riley delivers honest verdict on criticism and missing out on World Cup

By John McGinley

December 24, 2022

Celtic midfielder Matt O’Riley is more than happy to reflect on his own faults in the quest to become a better player for the Bhoys.

O’Riley is adjusting to a more forward-thinking role after filling in for Callum McGregor prior to the break and didn’t quite hit top speed against Aberdeen or Livingston in the first two matches back.

However, he was part of an efficient attacking performance against St Johnstone this afternoon, registering an assist when setting up Kyogo Furuhashi’s first goal.

Photo by Alvaro Medranda/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

And responding in that manner may well be because of the fantastic attitude he has on receiving criticism, which he talked about prior to playing the Perth side.

As quoted by The Scottish Daily Mail [24/12 print edition, page 85], he said: “I think most players that want to improve would probably be their own biggest critics. Otherwise, you won’t improve. I’ll reflect on games to see what I could have done better. Against Livingston, I definitely could have been better, but as a team in general we could have been a bit more fluid and more connected.

“We have a certain structure that we need to commit to — and the whole team needs to commit to their roles or it doesn’t work. It happened against Livingston on numerous occasions with all of us. It’s probably why you saw quite a few balls go across the goal and going through. We’ve usually got someone up. Aberdeen wasn’t the same in that sense. We actually played okay, they just had so many men behind the ball.”

And on the topic of missing out on the World Cup squad with Denmark, O’Riley was quick to point out he has a lot of improving to do.

He continued: “Initially, it was disappointing. After that, I was supporting Denmark. There’s a lot I need to improve upon and work on first to continue to raise my levels in each game. I need to start affecting the game more in the opposition box.”

It’s a mature attitude for sure and should aid his development at Celtic. It’s easy to forget he is still just 22 and has a high ceiling of potential, even through dips in form.

The way he filled in for McGregor was exceptional, drawing particular praise from the manager. If he can get back to his creative best, there are new heights to hit in the second half of the season.

In other news, Report: Ange Postecoglou adds yet another name to Celtic Christmas wishlist.