Celtic's Vasilis Barkas has a massive few months ahead; Jackie McNamara gives his early verdict
Celtic great Jackie McNamara has been discussing Vasilis Barkas after the Greek stopper’s tricky start to life in Scotland.
Barkas made a massive career move and indeed a huge lifestyle change when he swapped AEK Athens for Glasgow in the summer. The £4.5million price tag which followed him led to everyone expecting instant results from the Greece international too (Scottish Sun).
However, poor mistakes against the likes of Ferencvaros, Rangers and AC Milan have failed to ignite any real excitement or expectancy that he’s the man to replace last season’s superstar Fraser Forster.
McNamara, meanwhile, has been discussing Barkas’ start to life in Scotland, and has stated his belief that the Hoops spent at least six months doing prep work on the goalkeeper’s transfer.
“I think possibly on the back of Forster last year that you maybe turn around and think “he would’ve saved that” with the Rangers goal and the one in Europe as well. So there are a few there that you would think were preventable, but he’s come with a price tag and there’s pressure with it.
“They’ve made that choice to spend that money on Barkas and that’s not just a quick decision. Normally, that’s kind of been built up for, you would imagine, at least six months – building up and building up.
“They’ll have been thinking “what’s going to happen with Forster?”, but you’re looking down and seeing what other ones are available and what ones you think are going to kick on with us.”
Barkas’ start has been disappointing, but time must be given yet
We’re not going to pretend Barkas’ start in Scotland has been ideal. Even if he’s been going through big changes in his life, there have been some big moments that have certainly disappointed with regards to his shot-stopping.
Perhaps the biggest slap in the face he’s had though is being continuously taken out of the firing by the manager in recent weeks. Scott Bain has come into the fold and the rate of goals we’re shipping is beginning to increase. Bain has only managed to keep one clean sheet in his five appearances since coming into the sides.
Yes, Bain has faced better sides in recent times. The likes of Lille, Aberdeen, Motherwell, and Sparta Prague are always going to be difficult fixtures to keep shutouts in. But against those teams alone, we’ve conceded 10 with our back-up stopper in nets.
Not all goals have been Bain’s fault, but he isn’t proving that he’s better than our big-money summer investment. That’s why Lennon needs to throw Barkas back into the mix and get him back involved. A run of several clean sheets is exactly what he needs to get over his early slump to life here – not being frozen out of the team.
It was understandable at first, but it’s going on too long now. Bain is what he is – a back-up goalkeeper. That’s fine, but let’s not pretend he’s good enough to play every week and operate at the level we need from our stopper. Time will tell whether Barkas falls into that category too, but it’s still too early to make a final judgment.
The only we can is for Neil Lennon to throw the big Greek back into the firing line and see if his break has done him any favours.