The one Celtic player that Ange Postecoglou won't have been too pleased with last night

By David Walton

January 23, 2022

There will have been plenty of things about yesterday that pleased Ange Postecoglou in the 2-1 win over Alloa – the performance of James McCarthy won’t have been one of them.

After a flurry of opportunities in the first half of the campaign in which the Celtic supporters were happy to put his poor displays down to fitness issues, the patience is running out.

It’s felt as though Ange Postecoglou has been doing his absolute best to ensure that McCarthy hasn’t been near the first-team in recent weeks. After all, he’s made 2 appearances in our last 14 league matches [Transfermarkt]. Even with injuries, there has been a hesitancy from the manager when it comes to putting his trust in the veteran Irishman.

Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

However, last night, James was given a big chance to make a positive impression. Callum McGregor had to go off right on half-time with a jaw injury. McCarthy was his replacement as he was given the entire second-half to put his stamp on the game.

We all know what the former Crystal Palace man is supposed to provide. He’s meant to control the middle of the park and keep things simple. Recycling possession in a tidy manner and helping to find his more creative teammates in space. But none of that came to fruition against the League One club.

Once again, McCarthy was far too slow and ponderous in possession. He’s still wanting far too long to decide what he’s going to do with the ball. No surprises then that he did indeed lose it on several occasions.

Alloa Athletic 1-2 Celtic | LIVE Reaction

Alloa Athletic 1-2 Celtic | LIVE Reaction
67 Hail Hail (Youtube)

James McCarthy didn’t make the most of his Celtic opportunity

His passing continued to be wayward for the most part, and he felt like the weakest of Celtic’s midfield weapons throughout the contest. It was no surprise our dominance and creativity felt like it waned after he replaced McGregor.

The fact is that McCarthy was sent on to control the game. We were already 1-0 up and had the match where we wanted it. Yet the pattern of the second half was extremely disappointing. Our build-up play was too slow, and McCarthy simply allowed Alloa to get back into position when he was on the ball.

You do wonder whether he has the attributes to play in Postecoglou’s side. A team that is so focused on relentless, attacking football. You have to consider McCarthy’s own personal game, and it certainly doesn’t sound suited to what Postecoglou is trying to build in Glasgow.

Photo by ANP Sport via Getty Images

Of course, McCarthy is here for the considerable future given he was incredibly given a 4-year contract in the summer. He still has plenty of time to try to adapt his game to what Ange wants from him. But it’s taking far too long for him to make much of an impact this season.

There won’t be many times in his Celtic career when David Turnbull and Callum McGregor are both sidelined. You would expect James to be back out the side at Tynecastle with Yosuke Ideguchi and Matt O’Riley in the midfield roles this Wednesday.

McCarthy simply didn’t impress yesterday in what will likely be on of his few opportunities between now in the summer. The truth is we wouldn’t have needed O’Riley if McCarthy was doing a job for us. It was a statement signing from Ange, and James’ performance yesterday unfortunately backed up its importance.

In other news, Sportscene pundit’s embarrassing verdict on Celtic star Yosuke Ideguchi’s Alloa flashpoint