Ange on McCarthy: “Fair or unfair, James is a big boy and I’m sure he’s had plenty of criticism in his career”

Seldom has there been so much negativity surrounding a Celtic player making his full debut for the club as James McCarthy’s after a subdued and rusty performance from the midfielder who had spent the previous decade playing his football in the English Premier League. The supporters at the Tony Macaroni on Sunday could see with their own eyes that McCarthy had a poor game, many noted that he was far from being the only one, but his woeful day on West Lothian became the big talking point in the post match analysis among the support after The Athletic article that we have discussed earlier in the week.

David Turnbull and James McCarthy. Photo: Andrew Milligan

McCarthy is a Celtic supporter and will be well aware of the barrage criticism that he’s faced from some of his own but he’s not really in a position to say much, unless the club put him forward for the media conference duties ahead of tonight’s League Cup Quarter Final against Raith Rovers. That didn’t happen. and David Turnbull was given that task of talking to the mainstream media after his manager had given the main media update.

And there, Ange Postecoglou addressed the criticism that McCarthy has faced since the weekend and gave his opinion on how the player should respond. “If things are not going well I’ve been around long enough to know that people, for one reason or another, are going to analyse it and come up with their assessment,” the Celtic manager said.

“Some won’t be favourable, others may have more of an understanding. But I’ll never let that guide what I do, or who I am as a person. The reality of it is whoever is making the assessments on our current state is making it on limited information. It’s impossible for people outside this football club to know exactly the information that I have and what we are trying to create.

Livingston v Celtic – Ange Postecoglou. Photo Andrew Milligan

“But you have to accept scrutiny and criticism. It’s part of the game. Some will understand the circumstances and will be measured while others will have different agendas and they will be harder.

“But it doesn’t affect me. Anyone who gets into this job and doesn’t want scrutiny or criticism will quickly realise that sort of utopia does not exist. The most successful managers still get scrutiny so I don’t think there should be anyone in the food chain who feels they should escape it. But it doesn’t mean that’s going to dictate my mood, my demeanour, make me angry or make me change my approach.

“Fair or unfair, James is a big boy and I’m sure he’s had plenty of criticism in his career, and it was his first game,” Ange added. “He will be the first to admit he didn’t have a great one but there were plenty of others alongside him who would also admit the same.

 James McCarthy & Ernest Poku of AZ during the Europa League play-offs match  at Celtic Park on 18 August  Photo VI ANP Sport

“I didn’t have a great day at the office, mate. That’s just what happens sometimes. We’re not going to sit here feeling sorry for ourselves because some people didn’t like what we did at the weekend. We have a responsibility as a whole group to go out there against Raith Rovers and represent our club and our supporters.

“Those kind of opinions can change pretty quickly. I’m sure James is aware of that,” Ange concluded.

James McCarthy, who is just back in the squad after being missing through Covid, did not have a pre-season and is probably being given starts earlier that the manager would like because of the injury situation at the club. The former Crystal Palace midfielder is likely to start this evening as Postecoglou yesterday confirmed that Callum McGregor is still out. The only addition to the squad will be new signing Giorgos Giakoumakis but the greek striker signed from Dutch side VVV Venlo on deadline day last month is scheduled to start on the bench.

Georgios Giakoumakis will be on the bench tonight against Raith Rovers. Photo VI ANP Sport

Here’s Ange’s full media conference from yesterday which so far has been viewed by 16,911 supporters. That incidentally down by around 10k on his last conference’s viewing figures. For this asking or interested:Number of fan media events organised by Celtic since Dom McKay left to be replaced by Michael Nicholson – NIL.

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email

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