Celtic manager Neil Lennon has heaped praise on debutant Vasilis Barkas after he strolled his first game against Kilmarnock yesterday.
Barkas was massively let down by Christopher Jullien as he was effectively robbed of his first clean sheet for the club. With Celtic 1-0 ahead, a shocking error from Frenchman Jullien allowed Killie to snatch a penalty. Chris Burke buried well with Barkas going the right way and coming close to getting a touch on the ball.
That was all Barkas had to do in terms of shot-stopping. The new number one showed some decent ball-handling when crosses came into the area, and his decision-making was also efficient when it came to collecting the ball.
Lennon, however, didn’t only see the display as adequate. Speaking in the Scottish Sun, the Hoops boss hailed Varkas’ display as “excellent”.
“I thought he was excellent today.
“He was a concern before the game because of a new environment, making his debut, and I thought he handled it very very well and he was unlucky not to save the penalty in the end.
“I don’t think we are at anywhere near top form at the minute, even though we won well last week – which delighted me. We still have a few games to get through before we start hitting the heights we can.”
Still plenty to learn about Barkas
Lennon is perhaps showering Barkas with more praise than the performance merited. However, as the manager you would expect that from him.
The truth is that we still have much to learn about our new Greek signing. We learned next to nothing about him yesterday outside of the fact that he doesn’t look rash when it comes to his decision-making.
In terms of Barkas’ shot-stopping and distribution, both of those aspects of his game have still to be fully analysed by the Celtic supporters. St Mirren, Aberdeen, and Dundee United are next up in the Premiership, and those fixtures should give us all a clearer indication of what we’re in for with the former AEK Athens man.
Where Lennon is spot on in, however, is how unfortunate he was not to save the penalty. For a man of Barkas’ size, he got down well and came so close to tipping Chris Burke’s effort round the post. It would’ve made for a dream debut in the end, but it wasn’t to be.
There was the odd positive sign yesterday, but Kilmarnock failed to create a single moment of panic outside of Burke’s spot-kick. It left us still wondering just how good our new Bhoy is. In the coming weeks, that question will be answered.