Manny Perez gets one over Andrew Gutman in battle of the Celtic loanees

By David Walton

April 22, 2019

Celtic loan stars Andrew Gutman and Manny Perez came up against each other yesterday in USL action.

The duo signed for the Hoops in a joint statement by the club in January. Both men have come through the ranks in America, and were sent back after signing for Celtic.

So far, it’s been a positive experience for both. North Carolina have won three of their opening six games with Perez in the side. Gutman, meanwhile, already has two goals to his name with the Charlotte Independence.

But the latter couldn’t follow up his goal last week against Bethlehem Steel. Gutman’s Independence were ripped apart by Perez’s North Carolina in a 3-0 rout.

Impressively, Perez nabbed his first assist of the season in the Southern Derby too. He provided Marios Lomis with a perfectly weighted cross to slot home the second goal of the game. It kept up North Carolina’s dominance of the derby, as they’ve now won six of their seven meetings with Charlotte Independence.

Perez’s side now sit in fifth place, just three points off top spot. For Gutman, however, his Independence team are third bottom in 16th. They’re still four points off the foot of the table, but it’s hardly something to brag about.

How will they be viewed come the summer?

Full-back is an area Celtic could be strongly depleted down both sides this summer.

Down the right, both Mikael Lustig and Cristian Gamboa aren’t contracted to be here next season. Jeremy Toljan, meanwhile, looks like heading back to Borussia Dortmund after a failed loan stint here.

Therefore, Perez could be challenging just Anthony Ralston as it stands. You would expect Celtic to bolster their numbers at right-back, of course, but Perez has a real chance to make an impression.

Andrew Gutman didn’t have a day to remember against North Carolina (Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

For Gutman, it could be a tad tougher. He’ll always have the rival of Kieran Tierney to deal with unless the Celtic superstar moves on. It’s difficult to see how he ever becomes first-choice so long as Tierney is fit and available.

But being his understudy will certainly have its benefits. Gutman could learn a lot from such an attacking, direct full-back like Tierney. Gutman himself likes to bomb forward and get involved in attacks too – they seem to be similar in style.

Regardless, both should continue to enjoy their loan spells for now. It won’t be long until both are back and fighting it out for a first-team spot. As for the here and now, however, Perez has the bragging rights over his future team-mate.