FOR some obscure reason which will no doubt be lost on Ange Postecoglou, midfielder James McCarthy appears to have been singled out for some mindless observations.
There are some arch critics of the player who insist he should be nowhere near Celtic and his signing on a four-year contract last August is still unfathomable.
Everyone has the right to an opinion, but sometimes it might be prudent to take a step back and view an overall situation before firing out inane comments.
HOOP HOOP HOORAY…boyhood Celtic fan James McCarthy proudly holds aloft the No.16 shirt after agreeing a four-year deal in August 2021.
McCarthy has been labelled as a Lost Bhoy by some who should know better and his fitness has been questioned almost since the first day he walked into Celtic Park.
It’s fair enough to say the Glasgow-born 43 times-capped Republic of Ireland international does not race around the pitch. Have his detractors never watched McCarthy in action for Hamilton Accies, Wigan, Everton and Crystal Palace and his adopted country throughout his 16-year career?
Even as a teenager, he did not set out to cover every blade of grass. That is not his style. Possibly his somewhat languid approach foxes a few onlookers, but there can be no doubting the player’s qualities.
There was an instance last night after he had come on in the 72nd minute for Aaron Mooy. The game was won at that stage, but there was a moment in the Celtic half on the right wing when the ball was there to be won.
Showing commendable aggression, McCarthy was successful in one challenge, crunched into another and the team regained possession.
STOPPAGE-TIME WINNERS…James McCarthy, James Forrest and Aaron Mooy congratulate Giorgos Giakoumakis after his points-clincher against St Johnstone in Perth.
The same commitment to the cause was emphasised in the fading moments of stoppage time in Perth earlier this month when two points were about to be lost.
It was McCarthy who fought tigerishly for the ball on the left wing to release Alexandro Bernabei and the Argentinian defender set up Giorgos Giakoumakis for his winner against stunned St Johnstone.
The player is in Postecoglou’s squad for a reason. Is there anyone who believes he would be on that pitch for a solitary minute if his gaffer did not think he could contribute or his fitness was suspect?
If they do, we can only say they have not been paying attention.
Suggestions McCarthy, who will be 32 next month, could be on his way in the August transfer window were dealt with by the manager who answered sharply: “Not on my radar, mate,” as CQN reported at the time.
WORK-OUT…James McCarthy goes through a training routine with Giorgos Giakoumakis.
The player made only six starts in 13 appearances last season. This time around, he has come off the bench on five occasions, including the last two against Motherwell and Hibs in which the champions have claimed 10 goals.
The reason for the lack of starting positions is fairly obvious – take a look at the players Postecoglou has at his disposal for places in the middle of the pitch.
James McCarthy has an important role to play at Celtic. Even if some of his denigrators cannot quite comprehend that fact.
One man who clearly does understand the player’s qualities and what he can contribute to the team is the individual who matters most, Ange Postecoglou.