CHARLIE NICHOLAS thinks Ange Postecoglou may have been “slightly disappointed” in Filipe Jota’s performances among Europe’s elite.
The former Celtic striker admits he was not entirely convinced by the Portuguese winger who sealed a £6.5million permanent move from Benfia in the summer after an impressive season-long loan.
Jota netted in the losses to RB Leipzig in Germany and Real Madrid in the Spanish capital as the Hoops failed to claim even one win in Group F which also included Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk.
MAGIC IN MADRID…Filipe Jota and the Celtic fans celebrate after his wonder free-kick.
Nicholas reckons boss Postecoglou may have expected more from the Parkhead fans’ favourite.
The 60-year-old one-time Scotland international forward said: “Some pundits and supporters talked him up to star at the Champions League level, but I wasn’t among them.
“Ange Postecoglou may even have been slightly disappointed with him, although I accept his injury didn’t help as Celtic crashed out in the group stage.
“He might have scored a late consolation goal in a 5-1 loss to Real Madrid in the Bernabeu. But I didn’t like it when he said it was the best moment of his life. Okay, he netted against Real – and I never got that opportunity. Not many people do.
“And, while I’m all for celebrating goals, it doesn’t really matter when you are five down at the time.
“I always remember King Kenny Dalglish saying he would only celebrate scoring important goals, not if his side is losing heavily because it’s worthless – merely a tag that goes beside your name.
“Any player would surely rather have the points and also the bonus money for a victory. I would be shocked if Ange hasn’t spoken to Jota about what he expects from him at Celtic.”
HANDS UP IF YOU’RE HAPPY…Matt O’Riley congratulates Filipe Jota after his consolation strike against Real Madrid in the Bernabeu.
Nicholas, speaking to the Daily Express, continued: “It is okay doing well domestically because that is what he is here for and why the Aussie manager bought him, but you need so much more at the top end in continental competition.
“I expected Jota to embrace and shine in the Champions League – but it didn’t really happen for him. Former Bhoys boss Gordon Strachan and a few pundits said he played really well in the first game against Real Madrid at home as the Spanish side left with a 3-0 victory.
“I did not as I don’t believe he did enough when he had the ball. Celtic must get him to produce more. That is the question mark against him.”
Nicholas, who had two stints at the Hoops, added: “There is no doubt the potential is there. He has to concentrate on returning to the form he showed in the first couple of months, but manage it over a full season.
“It’s disappointing there is no European football after Christmas, but he and the rest of the Celtic squad need to focus on retaining their Premiership crown while also trying to win the Scottish and League Cups.
“I expect Jota to have a big role in that ambition. And, if a treble is achieved, there will be huge interest in him come summer.”
The Portuguese ace will be back in action against Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Saturday afternoon when the champions, with a nine-point advantage, resume their quest for a second successive title following the World Cup break.