Tonight is ideal stage for Celtic signing Daizen Maeda to step it up
At a normal time, at a normal club, Celtic forward Daizen Maeda and his start to life in Glasgow would be pretty impressive.
All in, thus far, he’s scored 4 goals in 10 outings. Not exactly bad contributions from a guy who’s just played a full season of football in the J League with Yokohama F Marinos. In case you’ve forgotten, he was joint-top scorer and a member of the league’s Team of the Season, prior to signing for Celtic.
Still, Celtic are not a normal club, and this is not a normal time. We’re deep into a title race, with Sunday showing that the margin of error is the width of a cigarette paper. To win the title, everyone needs to play their part.
On Sunday, it was bizarre to see Celtic finish a game goalless, just as it was when tonight’s opponents, St Mirren, held us to a stalemate late in 2021. Under Ange Postecoglou, we’ve seen Celtic score for fun, create clear-cut chances at will, and tear opponents apart.
Adding Maeda was, in theory, a great way of adding to our frightening attacking options. While statistically Maeda has performed well, his last two showings haven’t been quite what we imagined when he signed. Again; he’s just off a full season of football. We are, however, somewhat reliant on him currently, with Giakoumakis our only other recognised first-team striker.
Against Hibernian, Maeda led the line and will have been disappointed. In total, he managed just 16 touches [Fotmob], spurning one real chance and – generally speaking – not being allowed into the game by a stout Hibs defence. Against Bodo/Glimt, played on the left, he had a similarly frustrating time. The pressing forward won just 2 of his 10 duels, and chances were at a premium [Fotmob].
Opinions change quickly in football, and Daizen Maeda knows he can become the talk of Celtic supporters
Again, caveats apply here.
Given how much football he played in 2021, and the lack of a break, Ange Postecoglou would’ve wanted to ease Maeda more gently into life at Celtic. As per, though, circumstances have dictated that it’s not as easy as that.
Also, let’s be clear – he’s still contributed meaningfully already. If anything, he was a bit underrated in his initial run of games for the Hoops. But even then, his last two performances have meant that some criticism has come his way.
We’ve seen how quickly opinions can change. Just look at how the manager is perceived now. Compared to when he joined, it’s night and day.
At the start of February, Greg Taylor was being roundly applauded for his efforts against Rangers. Now, it’s not clear if he’s the long-term left-back we need. Things can change on a dime.
For a player as instantly likeable as Daizen Maeda, impressing the supporters will be top of the list of things he wants to do at Celtic. The last two games will rankle with him, make no mistake. Against St Mirren, a team we’ve beaten 15 times in our last 16 matches at home [WhoScored?], there’s opportunity.
If Maeda, as largely expected, is to start again tonight, he needs to make a statement with his performance. It could be crucial, as Celtic look to widen the gap at the top of the table.
We know he can do it.