3 key questions Celtic must answer before we face FC Midtjylland

By Euan Davidson

July 13, 2021

So, we know that, at least, Celtic will look good against FC Midtjylland. After this morning’s reveal, we don’t mean that from a personnel or tactical perspective, as such. In the literal sense, they’ll look good.

Because kit reveals are all fine and well. They’re easy to get excited about, debate over and have a bit of fun with. What the fans want, though, are the assurances that the club is moving in a positive direction.

After the managerial quagmire Celtic supporters endured, we’ve got Ange Postecoglou, a man whose football ideals are cause for real optimism. So far, what we’ve seen is promising. However, there are millions of pounds at stake [UEFA], as well as our European reputation, and the opportunity for these players to test themselves at the highest level.

Forgive me for speaking on anyone’s behalf here. But we’ve missed Champions League football, quite a bit. Haven’t we? Yes, the Europa League has given us plenty of memorable moments, amazing atmospheres and iconic goals. But the big table; surely that’s where we want to be.

However, there are very clear issues to address before we can even think about getting there. With just over a week before the first big meeting between Celtic and FC Midtjylland, here are three questions we need answered.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

What’s happening with Odsonne Edouard and Kristoffer Ajer, who could be key for Celtic against Midtjylland?

At this point in time, it’s not a stretch to say that Celtic are a better team with Odsonne Edouard and Kristoffer Ajer in the starting XI. They are, after all, our most valuable players.

Taking away all the subtext, they’re both quality footballers. If the opportunity is there to for Celtic to use them against FC Midtjylland, then we’re all the better for it.

However, that’s nowhere near a guarantee. Ajer, despite being scheduled to arrive at Celtic’s training camp tomorrow, has already said he wants to leave. He’s been a completely straight-shooter so far, refreshingly honest with supporters, and respectful while making his ambitions clear.

That’s something the club really should try and respect, where possible. Speculation over Edouard, meanwhile, has cooled. After Leicester City signed Patson Daka [Sky Sports], noise of the Frenchman departing Celtic has been at a premium.

Being truthful, we could do without the distractions of player exits as we approach our biggest game in months. For Postecoglou, it’s probably a significant headache. If the club can, then some assurances either way about these players would be gratefully received.

Can the new Celtic boss fully implement Ange-Ball in time?

We’ve got a manager that fans seem to absolutely love so far. That’s never a bad thing. However, his first real test has come quickly, and he has just over a week to put a competitive team out.

Now, we’re not expecting fully-realised “Ange-ball” this early. These things take time. What we would like to know though, is whether Postecoglou’s had enough to introduce the way he believes football should be played. Whether the training has paid off, and whether Celtic can approximate something on the right lines; a successful, attacking style with high-pressing and slick interchanges across the park.

As we’ve seen with prior managers, there’s potential for it to go horribly wrong. But we should take encouragement from our pre-season friendlies. Fine, they don’t matter in a material sense, but there seems to be real delight from the players in buying into Postecoglou’s system. The first half against Charlton Athletic, for example, showed shoots of real progress.

Postecoglou has two more matches to drill his instructions into the team before we face Midtjylland. Bristol City and Preston North End offer opposition, with our pre-season training camp coming to a close. Expect one half of either, if not both matches, to feature what Postecoglou reckons is his strongest XI.

Photo by Ian Randall/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Before Celtic face Midtjylland, can the club bring someone – anyone – in to fill out the squad?

Excitingly, or frustratingly, depending on your point of view, Celtic have been linked to myriad players already.

There’s a relatively strong chance that you, reading this, have been approached for a response about signing for Celtic. If you’re a world-class centre-back then please, think about it.

That’s all fine and well, but so far only Liam Shaw and Osaze Urhoghide have arrived. Shaw agreed a deal with us in February [Daily Record]. And while both look like very decent players, it’s not the kind of business we’d hoped for by this stage.

Transfers aren’t what they used to be, of course. The days of Celtic revealing three new signings on one day are long gone. There’s more to it now, especially with Covid-19 continuing to disrupt everything.

However, with every “missed” “target” that Celtic don’t sign, the enthusiasm from supporters will continue to dissipate. We’re probably weaker now than we were against Ferencvaros last year. That’s a huge worry.

Getting players in, having them adapt to a new manager’s style and gel with their teammates isn’t something you can really hurry. Yet, Celtic seem to be hoping that’s what the case will be.

It’s very risky, and again, it feels like leaving all of our work to the last minute.

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