The crucial Celtic squad trait that's being undervalued
In terms of the current Celtic squad, a few players are rightly getting the credit that’s owed to them right now.
Callum McGregor is one of those. Since becoming captain and changing to a number 6 role under Ange Postecoglou, he’s been absolutely excellent. Already a key player for Celtic, he’s undoubtedly reached new levels. Carl Starfelt, after a tricky start to life at the club, has shone, and is being recognised for his abilities.
Tom Rogic, Giorgos Giakoumakis, Jota and more; plenty of faces new and old are either being reappraised in a positive light, or being commended on how they’ve settled into life at Celtic.
In terms of a squad, though, there’s a trait that’s being undervalued going into the title run-in. Ange Postecoglou, surely by design, has a team of leaders he can rely on to set the tempo. There is a lot of experience there, despite the comparatively younger average age of the squad.
That’s crucial. It’s not just Callum McGregor with a significant role to play. Joe Hart, at 34, has vast experience at the top level, especially in terms of chasing silverware. Josip Juranovic is a full Croatian international, off the back of winning the Polish league with Legia Warsaw.
Christopher Jullien was, prior to being injured, talked up as at least vice captain material. Carl Starfelt and Cameron Carter-Vickers are both unafraid of making themselves heard, either. Nir Bitton, James McCarthy, Kyogo Furuhashi – all leaders, too.
Then there’s guys like James Forrest, who’s seen it and done it all at Celtic. His fellow Academy graduate Anthony Ralston may be far younger, but he understands what it means for the Hoops to win the title this season.
This may be a young Celtic squad, but there’s immense leadership there
Looking at guys like Paul Hartley reflecting in interviews [Open Goal], you can’t help but be reminded of the 07-08 season. There was a title race that went right down to the wire, but Gordon Strachan’s squad was full of inspirational characters.
Gary Caldwell, Hartley himself, Barry Robson, Steven Pressley, Andy Hinkel, Stephen McManus, John Kennedy; that doesn’t even adequately cover it. What that team had was the right number of players who could take responsibility in big, big moments.
People look at the current Celtic squad and could point at inexperience, they could point at how new most of the players are, and suggest it could be a weakness.
The incredible mental resolve the Hoops have shown, though, has been remarkable. We’ve been able to dig out late wins, use disappointments to fuel runs, and overturn a 6-point gap at the top of the table.
That’s going to be absolutely vital as we march towards the end of the season. Mental stamina is just as important as its physical equivalent.
Yet, looking at the Celtic squad Ange has built, the leaders in the dressing room and the general attitude being shown across 21-22?
It’s not something that seems like a worry.
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