Ex-Celtic coach explains the role James McCarthy may be playing behind the scenes

By Lewis Laird

June 27, 2022

Former Celtic player and assistant manager Peter Grant believes that Hoops midfielder James McCarthy must be playing a role behind the scenes for Ange Postecoglou.

The Irishman joined his boyhood club last summer, ending a long saga of the former Everton man being linked with a move to Parkhead. After signing a four-year deal with the Bhoys, many fans were intrigued to see what sort of role McCarthy would have within Postecoglou’s side.

However, the midfielder had a disappointing first 12 months in terms of playing time, making just six starts and the majority of his appearances coming from the bench.Sections of the fan base have questioned the signing of McCarthy last summer, given his long-term injury issues and the difference in playing style between Celtic and his old clubs.

Photo by Laszlo Szirtesi/Getty Images

But, ex-Celtic coach and BBC pundit Peter Grant has his own theory on what the experienced internationalist might bring to the table within the squad. As quoted by Football Scotland, Grant said: “The thing that’s interesting for me is that the manager obviously thinks he has an influence because the manager wouldn’t even have him sitting on the bench.

“It’s alright people saying they are not influencing it on the pitch, but there’s managers out there that would have you sitting in the stand if you weren’t contributing anything. So he’s obviously offering something. I’m sure James would love to play more, and people may now start to question the four-year deal. You’ve got to remember, though, that coming from the Premier League, he would have been on a lot of money. To get anywhere near his wages, you’d probably have to do it over four years anyway. That could be a factor.

“People think footballers are mercenary at times, but they all want to play. As I say, he must be having an influence of some sort otherwise, he wouldn’t be in and around the group. That’s probably the highest accolade I can pay him. I’d be loathe to be critical of him. I don’t know the ins and outs of it fitness-wise and levels-wise, but he must be influencing it in some way to get near the bench.”

McCarthy brings experience and leadership to the Celtic dressing room.

Despite his lack of involvement in Ange’s side, if we are to give the midfielder some leeway, he does offer a lot in terms of experience.

This Celtic side built by Postecoglou last summer isn’t the most experienced, and guys like McCarthy may be someone that coaches or other players turn to.

Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

It is extremely hard to tell, given the lack of knowledge that we as fans have about the dressing room at Lennoxtown and Celtic Park. We can’t say for sure what kind of role McCarthy is actually playing behind the scenes. It’s all just speculation.

I am sure the ex-Premier League man will be hoping for more of an involvement on the field going into next season. But, if not, we can only hope that he can have a positive impact amongst the group whilst training on a daily basis.

In other news, Celtic provide insight into day 1 pre-season work as Harry Kewell gets stuck in.