Olivier Ntcham’s form over the last few weeks has been extremely pleasing for the Celtic support.
The £4.5million man (The Scotsman) has been in-and-out of the starting XI since the summer. However, overall he’s made 10 appearances since what was a turbulent pre-season for him.
As we all know, Ntcham opened up on wanting to leave Celtic when he spoke to L’Equipe back in July. It was a ridiculous move from him at the time, but talks with Neil Lennon appear to have gotten the best out of him so far this season. There’s been no moaning from Ntcham about being rotated, and he’s simply producing whenever Lennon calls upon him.
Perhaps his most vital performance was what he produced last Sunday. When Celtic beat Rangers at Ibrox, Ntcham came into the game at a crucial period and helped give Celtic fresh impetus in the midfield. He often relieved us of any pressure we were under, and pushed us forward with ease.
However, Saturday’s clash at Hamilton will tell us plenty about where Ntcham is at. Given the modest quality of our rivals this weekend, that might sound like an odd thing to say.
Olivier Ntcham’s form must stay positive at Hamilton
But the truth is that Saturday’s fixture was the kind of game that Ntcham was dreadful in last season. Trips to venues such as Hamilton and St Mirren failed to bring out the best in him. He often looked like he couldn’t be bothered, or that he felt the fixture was beneath him.
In a trip to St Mirren last season, he was even sent off just one game after being a derby hero against Rangers. That seemed to spark his decline last term, and the similarities heading into this Saturday are difficult to ignore.
Of course, it’s not even confirmed that Lenny will give the Frenchman the nod. However, with Callum McGregor playing two matches for Scotland whilst Ntcham stayed at home, it seems a logical change to keep things fresh.
That could see the midfielder paired with captain Scott Brown, who has retired from international duty.
If Ntcham can produce another decent display at Hamilton, it’ll prove a lot to the support. It will most importantly show that he’s up for the fight to win nine-in-a-row for the football club. A poor display could just see supporters get on his back again.
Ntcham has to show he can turn up against the smaller sides away from home. It’s one of the key negatives from last season. But, with his performances so far this term, supporters will have all the confidence in the world in him.