REO HATATE is eager to deliver on his promises and the silky midfielder was outstanding in the 2-0 win over Norwich City in the final work-out before the action kicks off a week today.
The Japanese international made a breathtaking first impression after joining the Hoops on Hogmanay along with his J-League colleagues Daizen Maeda and Yosuke Ideguchi.
Hatate’s performance against Giovanni von Bronckhorst’s Ibrox side simply blew away the Glasgow rivals when he scored two and set up another for Liel Abada in a 3-0 victory at the start of February as Celtic went to the Premiership pinnacle for the first time in 18 months.
POSTIVE…Ange Postecoglou is satisfied with the players’ pre-season work. Image courtesy Celtic TV.
Ange Postecoglou’s revamped side remained in pole position as the team claimed their tenth title in 11 years.
Understandably, considering Hatate had been playing practically non-stop for a year and a half, the stylish performer tapered off as a memorable season came to a conclusion.
However, after his 77-minute display against the English Championship – with new Bhoy Aaron Mooy taking his Parkhead bow in his place – it was evident he will be a key man for the champions.
The 24-year-old playmaker realised the opponents were aware of his threat when he was clattered from behind by Scotland international Kenny McLean – in 24 SECONDS! Referee Willie Collum proved to be in a lenient move and simply administered a finger-wagging to the assailant while awarding a free-kick.
HAPPY DAZE…David Turnbull is hugged by Reo Hatate with James Forrest about to join after his superb strike.
Following goals from Daizen Maeda and David Turnbull in the most recent win, Postecoglou is clearly satisfied with the way things have gone in six warm-up games as he prepares his squad for the league opener against Aberdeen on Flag Day in the east end of Glasgow.
The Greek-Australian gaffer said: “Reo’s been good, but for all our players, they’ve enjoyed the fact that they had a pre-season with us.
“I keep saying that we threw a lot of these guys in last year and they did super well for us – and my belief is that they can be a lot better.
“That’s why we were really keen to retain the players we had last year and build on that and Reo is one of them.
“But there are quite a few guys who will have enjoyed having a pre-season together as a group, working hard and being ready for the season.”
Reflecting on the encounter with the Carrow Road outfit, Postecoglou, speaking to Celtic TV, continued: “It was good and I think the victory is important, as well. I thought it was a real solid run-out.
NUMBER ONE…Daizen Maeda flicks a neat effort past the helpless Tim Krul.
NUMBER TWO…David Turnbull flashes a low drive beyond substitute keeper Angus Gunn.
“For the most part, we controlled the game, our possession was good and we worked hard defensively to deny them too much.
“And it was good to see after the substitutions we didn’t have too much of a drop-off and the boys stuck to their task.”
Looking ahead, he added: “It’ll just be another solid week of work on the training pitch. We’ve got a good eight days because the game’s on Sunday, so the boys will have a good block of work.
“We’ll work on our game, work on our physical stuff and, like I said, we’ve had a decent pre-season campaign and in that, every game has been fairly competitive for us, which has been important.
“And for the most part, we’ve got through it unscathed, in terms of injuries or any setbacks, so we’re in a pretty good place.”