The Celtic summer signing who's given Ange plenty to think about
When Celtic summer signing Liam Scales came through the door, a lot of Hoops fans weren’t entirely sure what to make of it.
Sure, the Shamrock Rovers man had been impressive in Ireland. He was knocking on the door of the national team and was, by all accounts, incredibly versatile. Scales played on the left of midfield, at centre-back and as a left-back for Rovers.
However, there was some cynicism. Was this Dermot Desmond, who has a vested interest in Shamrock Rovers, influencing transfer policy? Did we need another left-back who wasn’t seen to be an upgrade? Would he even play?
For months, those questions became louder and louder. But with recent opportunities, Liam Scales has given the Celtic manager a great deal to think about when he’s naming his starting XIs.
That may sound premature, but hold on now. In a recent run of games, Scales has been really effective. There are the goal contributions; a strike against Dundee United, an assist against Ross County. But in conjunction with that, he’s made an effort to find men in space, and create problems for opposition defenders with his dribbling and vision.
Take last night, for example. Scales is the architect of the first goal. From a throw-in on the opposite side, Scales moves the ball to McGregor, shuttles into the middle, underlaps McGregor on his way to the flank, and delivers a perfect cross. Against Dundee United, it was again movement in the middle that saw him in space to finish.
That and his ability to win the ball back. He made 2 ball recoveries and won a massive 8 duels [Fotmob] in the win over Ross County last night.
There’s a case to be made, here.
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Ange Postecoglou has two underrated, effective options in Greg Taylor and Liam Scales
The timing couldn’t be any better, either. There has been a lot of talk about Celtic bringing in a new left-back. Reo Hatate’s raw stats showed he’d played some games for Kawasaki Frontale in that position. He is not, though, a left-back; an injury crisis necessitated him playing there.
Hatate to one side though, the left-back position seemed a “problem” as we headed towards the January window. But really, it isn’t – even if Boli Bolingoli gets the move that seems so likely.
Greg Taylor, perennially underrated, had a very decent game before Scales replaced him against Dundee United. There’s a reason why he’s a Scotland international despite the presence of Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney. For whatever reason, he just isn’t as well-liked as his consistent performances deserve.
Between the two of Greg Taylor and Liam Scales though, on the evidence we have so far, there are two really good options. Both have fit into Postecoglou’s shape with little problem when they’ve been available.
Scales, though, could offer more in an attacking sense. In the Europa Conference League qualifiers for Shamrock Rovers, he scored once and set up 2 more [Transfermarkt]. When Celtic are able to control possession and look to hit teams repeatedly, the output of Scales could be a real attribute.
Whereas, the streetwise Greg Taylor seems a more comfortable fit when contests are more even, and his already considerable experience could help.
The point is, in a position where Ange Postecoglou looked to be limited, Liam Scales has made a compelling case. And certainly, he’s at least put some doubts over his transfer to rest.
There’s a player there.