Sky Sports pundit excited with Celtic boss' Reo Hatate fitness remarks

By David Walton

February 3, 2022

Sky Sports pundit James McFadden has been left excited with Ange Postecoglou’s remarks about Reo Hatate still having some way to go fitness-wise.

Hatate proved to be the match-winner against Rangers with 2 goals and an assist to round off a wonderful performance from the Japanese international. It followed a man-of-the-match debut against Hibernian last month and another goalscoring display at Tynecastle just last week.

The speed in which Reo has adapted to life and football in Scotland is incredible to say the least. But just as eyebrow-raising was Ange’s post-match comments when he told Sky that Reo was “nowhere near” the levels of fitness he wants him at as of yet.

Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

And that’s something that left McFadden gobsmacked as he couldn’t speak highly enough of the former Kawasaki Frontale star.

Speaking on Sky Sports Main Event last night [02/02, 10:15], McFadden said: “The frightening thing about this is the manager has just said he’s miles off of where he wants him to be in terms of his fitness. That is absolutely frightening because yes there is room for improvement, there always is, but he’s been sensational he really has.

“You talk about a guy coming from a totally different culture to a speed of game that is new to him. And he just looks like he’s got time. He’s got so much composure. He’s got so much quality on the ball, and he’s shown that he’s willing to put the work in. If players aren’t willing to do what the manager wants, they won’t play.

Celtic hammer Rangers but it’s just the start of the Ange era | Scott McDonald on 67 Hail Hail

Celtic hammer Rangers but it’s just the start of the Ange era | Scott McDonald on 67 Hail Hail
67 Hail Hail (Youtube)

“But if they come in and they’re willing to buy into it, they will play and they will flourish because this is a team you would love to play in. Almost all-out attack for 90 minutes as much as possible. He’s been sensational.”

Reo Hatate clearly getting there as fitness shows against Rangers

McFadden is simply saying what the rest of us are thinking. If Reo is performing at these levels when he isn’t fully-fit, then goodness knows how electric he’ll be when he’s at a place fitness-wise that Ange is happy with.

Hatate did, of course, last 73 minutes against the Ibrox club last night. He also played 68 against Dundee United and managed a full 90 against Hearts last Wednesday. That’s without even mentioning his debut performance against Hibs when he played 74 minutes [Transfermarkt].

Yes, there have been times when Ange has taken him off. But that’s a lot of football for a player who isn’t deemed fully fit as of yet. You have to wonder, then, whether Ange is talking more about match-sharpness than he is general fitness levels.

Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

It’s also highly likely that Hatate plays another big role for Celtic at Fir Park this Sunday. Granted, Ange will have the added boost of having Tom Rogic available for selection to mix things up.

That’s another reason getting through the Rangers game was so key. Now we suddenly have options again. Nir Bitton is back from suspension whilst Daizen Maeda will also be available for a start.

Given Ange still thinks Reo has some way to go fitness-wise, it’ll be interesting if he uses this weekend to give Reo a rest. Going by previous selections, that isn’t likely.

In other news, Rivals’ pettiness led to hostile Celtic Park and their players absolutely crumbled in it