Former Celtic striker Mark McGhee backs Giakoumakis after Saturday penalty miss

By Euan Davidson

November 2, 2021

Former Celtic striker Mark McGhee was, like Giakoumakis, a striker who came from Europe with a big reputation.

Yes, he was a Celtic supporter, and had caps for Scotland. McGhee, though, was a bit different. After being part of Aberdeen’s glory years under Alex Ferguson, McGhee was a big signing from Europe, having joined Hamburg in 1984.

Celtic then spent big money on the Scotland striker a year later, a not-inconsiderable £150,000 [Celtic Wiki]. The point being that like Giorgos Giakoumakis, McGhee was a striker who arrived at Paradise with some momentum and a very decent reputation.

Therefore, he’s an interesting choice to back the Greek striker. And he has, abundantly, saying that Giakoumakis needs to get Saturday’s tame penalty effort out of his head immediately. And, he posited a theory as to why he was allowed to take the spot kick instead of Josip Juranovic, who had a 100% record from his two Celtic penalties.

McGhee told the Scottish Sun:

“I want to see him grabbing the ball for the next penalty Celtic get. Hopefully the fans will forgive him. They’ll have seen his well-taken goal the previous week and at least know what he’s capable of.

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“I’m aware that there was surprise Giakoumakis took the penalty in the first place. But my hunch on that would be his manager would be trying to help him increase his goal tally and boost his confidence.

“Ange Postecoglou will want him quickly building up his tally. So I can totally understand if that was his thinking by making Giakoumakis the designated penalty-taker.

“Giakoumakis didn’t take the opportunity against Livingston. But, as I’ve already said, it’s about how he now reacts to that disappointment that counts. Even the greatest players have missed penalties – no one has a 100-per-cent record.”

Mark McGhee may have it right over Celtic striker Giorgos Giakoumakis

Given the stakes, it’s obvious there’d be days of reaction to Giakoumakis’ penalty miss. It really was a tame, meek effort, with Livingston goalkeeper Max Stryjek barely having to move to save it.

However, it was Giakoumakis’ second ever start for Celtic. As poor and as frustrating as it might’ve been, it would be ridiculous to hold it against for the rest of his Bhoys career. We just cannot do that.

No striker can be the next Henrik Larsson very easily. But Larsson didn’t score in his first two starts. Not for Celtic, at least; on his debut, he gave the ball away to Chic Charnley who scored for Hibernian. On his second game, he scored an own goal against Tirol Innsbruck. It was a beauty, too [Who Ate All the Pies].

Photo by David Cannon/Allsport

The idea of letting Giakoumakis be a game-winner for Celtic is obvious. That’s why, personally speaking, I reckon he was allowed to take the penalty. Especially after a frustrating game where he barely had a sniff of the ball.

Now, it’s about how he reacts. The best strikers in the world have missed gilt-edged chances. It’s how they respond that makes them great.

If Giakoumakis has an opportunity against Ferencvaros, the narrative around him will change instantly. There will be plenty of opportunities for the Greek striker.

Read more: The key message coming out of the Celtic dressing room since Livingston draw