James McCarthy receives deserved plaudits from Celtic boss Postecoglou

By Euan Davidson

September 24, 2021

James McCarthy and his improved showing against Raith Rovers have earned a solid review from Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou.

McCarthy, another player who couldn’t enjoy a pre-season with Celtic, made some decent cameo appearances in recent weeks. His first start, however, against Livingston, frustrated some supporters, with his slow movement and sideways passing.

Against Raith Rovers, McCarthy was far more dynamic. Breaking up play, as well as setting up Jota’s opener, the Irishman’s performance helped drive Celtic to a comfortable Premier Sports Cup win.

With Callum McGregor out injured, McCarthy stepped up, and looks well-placed to start again, with Dundee United in the East End of Glasgow on Sunday.

He’s also be quite well-rested. Nir Bitton came on for the Ireland international after 69 minutes, with Soro also coming on to preserve Tom Rogic for Sunday.

Postecoglou said [Celtic FC]:

“Yeah, James was better tonight. I think he probably enjoyed the pitch tonight, having a bit more room and freedom to play.

Celtic 3-0 Raith Rovers | LIVE Reaction

Celtic 3-0 Raith Rovers | LIVE Reaction

“Look, he’ll get better. It’s only his second game, his second start.

“I thought he did a good job.”

Solid review for James McCarthy, and the folly of writing off players too quickly

Admittedly, McCarthy’s performance against Livingston wasn’t good enough. But the hyperbole around his signing, based off one start, was probably a bit much.

Given the circumstances – mainly that nobody was particularly outstanding at the Tony Macaroni – we need to be more patient with some of our signings. For every Kyogo, or Abada, there are going to be players who need more time to settle in.

Especially in less glamorous positions where plaudits are harder to come by.

Photo by ANP Sport via Getty Images

He won’t get to play on a pitch like Celtic Park’s every game, but Livingston cause problems for all kinds of opposition on their surface. Celtic will need to be better prepared for that challenge in the future, McCarthy included.

In any case, last night should give fans some encouragement about what McCarthy is capable of. Experienced, a good reader of the game, and still capable of a killer ball, he might not be a stand-out, 10/10 performer every week.

But if we can get these kinds of performances out of him, anchoring the defence and providing some intelligent passing further forward, then that sounds like a good bit of business to me.

In other news: Anton McElhone will have hands full as Celtic injury list grows