Olivier Ntcham has a had a season from hell, just like Celtic supporters have.
In a year that promised so much for us, ditto Ntcham. He’d never seemed the most settled at Celtic, but he got a chance to play for French giants Marseille. Subsequently, the Marseille boss Andres Villas-Boas left, throwing each and every toy out the pram in the process.
It’s over for the Frenchman at Marseille, but not necessarily Celtic. Olivier Ntcham has shown his immense abilities in the Hoops, but he’s also frustrated with anonymous performances. Yesterday, we argued for keeping the mercurial Frenchman, and now former Hoops hero Chris Sutton is doing the same.
In his Daily Record column, Sutton wrote:
“…having seen the grass is not greener away from Glasgow, Ntcham could help solve a big problem. The big question is, does he want to? Can he be bothered?
“If he can look a new manager in the eye and say he’s realised how good it is to be a Celtic player and that he wants to try to deliver his peak, it’s an interesting scenario.”
Olivier Ntcham can still contribute to Celtic
“Anyone could see his mind was in other countries for the two years before he was eventually punted out on loan. But the guy is 25. He’s at a perfect stage of his career to be a real force.
“Ntcham has dominated games against Rangers and has shown he can be top class when his mind is on the job. That was the problem half the time.
“They were talking about figures of maybe £8.5million from Marseille if he impressed the French. After what has happened to him in the last five months they’re not going to pay £8.50.”
Firstly: Chris Sutton writes exactly how he talks. His forthcoming book will be a genuinely good read. Secondly, he’s right. We tend to forget how good some of our players have been over the years. Ryan Christie, Callum McGregor and Odsonne Edouard have faced similar criticism for their performances this season, but overall, these are fantastic Celtic players. Ntcham, when he’s motivated and fit, is in the same bracket.
He’s scored vital goals, provided real impetus in the middle of the park, and is a tactically flexible midfielder. On song, he’s an asset. We’ve seen that, and we should be cognisant of that. Put it this way, the Sporting Director at Marseille wouldn’t be keen if Ntcham had been entirely useless at Celtic, or even mediocre.
Yes, his attitude can be frustrating, but it’s the manager’s job to get players committed to the cause. Someone with a more holistic approach to man-management can give Ntcham a bit of leeway.
He’s a good player. Sutton played alongside the likes of Henrik Larsson, Lubo Moravcik and Alan Shearer; it’s worth listening if he thinks someone has a chance to revitalise their career.