Pundit comes to the defence of under-fire Celtic goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas

By John McGinley

January 24, 2021

Former Celtic goalkeeper Alan Rough has come to the defence of criticised star Vasilis Barkas this weekend.

Barkas is the subject of deep debate this season due to his lacklustre performances between the sticks.

Undoubtedly Celtic fans have been critical, though there are some supporters who have sympathy for the Greek international.

He’s not had it easy moving countries in the middle of a pandemic.

There’s also the small matter of a rotten, unsettled defence in front of him.

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Partick Thistle and Scotland legend Rough thinks that’s a major reason for his lack of form.

Speaking to The Scottish Mail on Sunday (24/01 print edition, page 141), the pundit said: “The stats speak for themselves and he hasn’t won a game for Celtic, which is the biggest complaint against him right now.

“I would give him the benefit of the doubt because of the defence that he’s playing behind, though. Any goalkeeper will tell you that, if you have two big, solid guys right in front of you, it makes your life so much easier.

“But when you have a back four or a back three and it’s being chopped and changed every single week, and they aren’t playing well themselves, then it falls on to you as well.

“It’s a collective problem, not just Barkas. But unless he starts making some big saves, he’ll be banging his head off a brick wall with the support.”

Rough does recognise that Barkas hasn’t done anything particularly positive to celebrate in his time at Celtic. But is it simply too early to judge?

We may not find out how good the Greek is until we actually have a competent team in front of him, working under a manager who knows how to get the best out of them tactically.

Twitter account Bhoys Analytics has also put together an interesting data thread that backs up the idea that Barkas isn’t quite the car crash he’s portrayed as.

Don’t get me wrong, Barkas has it all to prove. Some of the criticism levelled at him is fair. As ever, plenty of it is over the top, such is the emotion surrounding Celtic right now.

It’s nice to see at least a little bit of sympathy for him in the media and amongst the support of late.

I still want him to come good, even if my gut feeling tells me he probably won’t. At the very least, he deserves a run when things settle down at Celtic.

In other news, Jack Hendry is in the best shape of his career at Oostende.