Liam Shaw is confident that Celtic can get the better of FC Midtjylland in the Champions League qualifying round over the next week or so to progress to the next stage of qualifying as Celtic eye group stage qualification. It’s fair to say that while the opposition is likely to get tougher, Ange Postecoglou’s squad is still taking shape and would unquestionably be stronger and better prepared to deal with top level competitive football than is currently the case.
Yet Shaw, speaking to the media after the disappointing performance in the 1-0 home defeat to Preston North End on Saturday, reminded us that the new Celtic manager has been focusing entirely on the game against the Danish side since arriving at Celtic and the team that he will name tomorrow night will be well prepared to carry out the manager’s instructions.
“I think we’ll be ready. It has come around fast. Since the manager came in we’ve had our full focus on this tie, it’s what we’ve been working towards,” the former Sheffield Wednesday utility player said, as reported by Scottish Sun. “Hopefully we can do the job on the night, but we are aware Midtjylland are a good team. They qualified for the group stages last season, which shows their quality.
“But we just have to focus on ourselves and apply the manager’s philosophies and his style of play. If we do that to the best of our ability, I think we’ll be alright,” a confident Shaw said. “It would be massive for us if we can get the win against them. It would give everyone around the club a massive boost and fill us with confidence. Hopefully we can do that.
Liam Shaw can’t quite believe he’s gone from watching the Champions League on TV to being on the eve of being involved himself and the chance to get to the Group Stages is a huge motivation for him and indeed his Celtic team-mates. “I watched the Champions League on TV last season. The chance of playing in it was a big thing for me in coming to this club. It’s where Celtic want to play, and it’s such a big competition for any player.
“That’s what dreams are made of really, playing in those types of games. It’s one thing watching it on the telly, but you want to sample that atmosphere as a player. Sheffield Wednesday is a huge club, but I was never going to play in the Champions League there. Yet here it’s a distinct possibility, which is what makes Celtic so attractive as a club.”
Shaw reckons that Postecoglou’s approach to how he sees his team playing the game will be beneficial in these crucial matches. “Every day in training, the manager is trying to get his style of play across to us. We’re all focusing on ourselves. He’s said that we will all stick together.
“He just wants us to play our football and not worry about any opposition, no matter who they are. It could be Man United or anyone. We shouldn’t be bothered about who we are playing. The gaffer just wants us to focus on ourselves and the style of football he wants us to play.”
The 20 year old former Sheffield Wednesday midfielder has already settled into life as a Celtic player and credits his new teammates for helping with that, with the extremely warm welcome he’s received from everyone at the club.
“They’ve all been really good to me,” he said. “The quality at training is really good and that will help me improve as well. They have all been welcoming and are a good set of lads.
“I’ve really enjoyed it. Moving from Sheffield Wednesday to Celtic is a big change. This is a massive club, but I’m just really enjoying my time here and trying to get as many minutes on the park as possible.
“I just need to build that up over the next few weeks to get more established as a Celtic player. I put my trust in the manager and hopefully he will be able to rely on me. I want play as much as I can and give him that belief I can play.
“Pre-season is more about getting minutes in your legs. I think when it’s suddenly competitive, you click into things. It’s a different type of feeling playing in competitive games as you know you need to win. We tried to win against Preston, but the main focus is to get the minutes in.”