Patryk Klimala explains why it didn't work out at Celtic

By Euan Davidson

May 21, 2021

Patryk Klimala is an interesting figure in the recent history of Celtic.

At the time we signed him, it shocked fans and experts in Poland. Signing for £3.5m [BBC], it seemed a lot for a youth striker who’d only managed one truly prolific season. Physically, though, Klimala offered something different, and his potential was a total unknown.

Yet, after 28 appearances and just 3 goals [Transfermarkt], it looked very much like he was a significant work in progress. Celtic would hold on to him, sure, but Klimala would be a player that required time and opportunities. So, it was surprising when the Bhoys recouped their fee entirely, let alone to part of a world-famous scouting network.

Now, at New York Red Bulls, Klimala has tipped himself to thrive. Speaking at a press conference this week, the Polish striker explained why it didn’t work at Celtic, but why it will in the MLS.

Klimala said [Once a Metro]:

“I am so so happy to be here – and you will be happy to have me.

“It was in January that I first heard that Red Bulls were a team that was interested and we spoke in January. It is a good team with beautiful goals for the future and I was excited to come here.

“I think with Celtic we had to play a more tactical game [that didn’t suit me] but I know from all the Red Bull teams [around Europe] the style of play here. I like to fight and work in football and that’s what [Red Bull] is about. It’s a lot of direct balls to the strikers, direct balls behind the lines and that is how I like to play.”

Patryk Klimala with ex-Celtic manager Neil Lennon / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Very interesting comments from Celtic misfit Patryk Klimala

It’s intriguing to hear Celtic being described as “tactical”, given the team he played in this season. If Neil Lennon’s Celtic were anything, it wasn’t that.

The team played at least 3 different formations, with different pressing systems, different levels of width and total, jarring inconsistency. Yet, no matter what system was used, it seemed our players didn’t know what to do an awful lot of the time. Certainly, from our perspective as fans, it looked as if Neil Lennon focused more on the man-management side of the game than the tactical.

Still, Klimala was the one who actually played for Celtic. But it sounds like he’s describing Scottish football when he talks about New York Red Bulls. That’s why it’s not hard to imagine Klimala thriving at a team further down the Premiership, which might’ve been the best idea for him, in hindsight.

His confidence is admirable. And it should be. According to Kevin Thelwell, New York Red Bulls’ Sporting Director, Celtic weren’t entirely unanimous on letting the Polish talent go.

Whether it’s something we’ll rue in years to come depends on Klimala thriving in the MLS. With his attitude, the smart money says he just might.

READ MORE: Somewhat forgotten, this Scotland and Celtic man deserves more acclaim