Matt O'Riley's ex-Fulham coach Peter Grant tells Celtic supporters exactly what to expect

By David Walton

January 20, 2022

Matt O’Riley’s former coach Peter Grant has outlined the improvements he’s made over the years as he stated he’s “delighted” with the potential move.

Grant was once Fulham’s lead professional development coach. During that time he gave O’Riley his big break at just 15 years of age when he featured him in his u18s side.

Grant has since watched the player recover from serious back problems that affected his development to becoming a star in League One with MK Dons. And he believes it’s clear to see the improvements he’s made with the player’s issues now gone.

Photo by Alex Dodd – CameraSport via Getty Images

He’s been speaking as Celtic appear to be closing in on a move for the player, and he’s clearly been left buzzing for him. As quoted by the Daily Record, former Celtic midfielder Grant said: “When he was at Fulham, he was a young man who was growing very quickly. He had a lot of back problems. There was a bit of training missed as he was growing up. One thing he always had was a lovely left foot – when he was on the ball, he was terrific.

“He’s had two managers [Martin and Manning] who play a certain style. Some people tend to forget. They look at someone and think he’s a good player, but you have to ask if he can play a certain style. Matt’s had two coaches who have teams that want to play. That’s the biggest thing for him, he can handle the ball well. His left foot is lovely. The systems suited him because he can see pictures when he’s on the ball and has goals this season with great composure.

“But it’s interesting. I watched a couple of his goals recently and there was one where he nicked the ball. We used to say to him that he had to get close to the opposition, even as a young man. That was so pleasing to see given he wasn’t fit enough to do that in the past and people were always going to question him for it.

Celtic 2-0 Hibernian | LIVE Reaction

Celtic 2-0 Hibernian | LIVE Reaction
67 Hail Hail (Youtube)

“That’s the interesting thing for me talking about Celtic – the high tempo of their play and, obviously, they have watched him. If it works out, that is great and I’ll be happy for him and the club. You knew the talent was always there and now he’s getting the consistent games to show his talent. He is obviously getting the rewards with teams such as Celtic wanting him. I am delighted that Matt has done so well.”

Matt O’Riley to Celtic looks an interesting buy

It’s such an intriguing transfer move this from the club. When we failed to sign Riley McGree last week, the general mood was that we didn’t truly need him. That we had enough options in the middle of the park to progress and win the title regardless.

That viewpoint doesn’t just go out the window because we’re bringing a new signing into the club. O’Riley has plenty of proving to do when he arrives if he’s going to be an instant first-team contributor.

You’ll do well to find a Celtic fan who knows which player would likely drop out for him. After all, we’ve got David Turnbull to come back from injury and Yosuke Ideguchi available after arriving from the J-League. That’s without even mentioning Ismaila Soro and James McCarthy respectively.

Photo by Hannah Fountain – CameraSport via Getty Images

So it’ll be interesting to see what Ange’s plan is for O’Riley moving forward. This doesn’t feel like another project buy. Not when he’s been tearing it up in League One with MK Dons and wanted by a host of other English Championship clubs.

He’s here because he believes he’s going to get instant minutes. He’s here to play a part in this season’s title-charge. Not next years or 3 years down the line. At 21, the midfielder is clearly ready for his next step up.

And as Ange looks to get this one confirmed, it looks as though the board have once again backed the manager in their recruitment drive.

In other news, Shunsuke Nakamura delivers classy well wishes to new Japanese Celtic players