Criticism and contract talks – Turnbull blocks out noise and keeps cards close to his chest

David Turnbull is coming into a decent run of form in a Celtic shirt, as the clock ticks down on his Celtic contract. The club seem keen to get the midfielder signed from Motherwell for just over £3m, to put pen to paper on a new deal, but talks on this seems to have stalled amid what looks like concerns from the midfielder around his lack of game-time with an established midfield trio of McGregor, Matt O’Riley and Reo Hatate looking like the first pick middle three.

Reo Hatate of Celtic looks dejected as he leaves the field after sustaining an injury during the UEFA Champions League match between Celtic FC and Atletico Madrid at Celtic Park Stadium on October 25, 2023 . (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The hamstring injury to Hatate in the early stages of the Champions League match against Atletico Madrid saw Brendan Rodgers opt for Paulo Bernardo, currently on loan at Celtic from Benfica, rather than Turnbull.

Paulo Bernardo was chosen to replace the injured Reo Hatate against Atletico Madrid

Since then Turnbull has started against St Mirren last Wednesday night at Celtic Park and again against Ross County in Dingwall at the weekend and has scored vital goals in each match. On Friday afternoon The Celtic Star asked Brendan Rodgers about the latest on David Turnbull and Joe Hart’s contract situations but the manager kept his cards close to his chest.

That was the last question of the first media conference at Lennoxtown and by that time the newspaper hacks had arrived and waited at the back of the room for their turn to talk to the Celtic manager. They followed up on our question about David Turnbull’s contract situation and this time Brendan did have more to say:

“For us, David is a player we would like to keep, so it is not us here on the club side. He has to do what he thinks is right for himself. At this moment in time, he is still in the last year of his contract.

“For me, unless something changes, it is just a case of as long as the players are giving their all. It only becomes a problem if I don’t see the intensity that I want, the mentality that I want.

“That’s always something I am mindful of with players in the last year of their contracts. You have to be right on it or otherwise you can drift very, very easily, and think about other things. As a manager I won’t let that happen, no matter how good anyone is.

“There have been talks with his agent and the club, I believe, but I’m not sure what the latest on that is. He’s still young, but I think when you get to that age, you do want to play and be a starter. But if you want to be a starter at Celtic, it is that intensity and ambition you need to show, every game you play.

David Turnbull of Celtic reacts after scoring his team’s first goal during the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Celtic FC and St. Mirren FC at Celtic Park on November 01, 2023 (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“There is no doubt he is a talented player. You see his goal against St Mirren – there are not many can score goals of that quality. I really like David. He is a good guy, has good size, he moves when he wants to move, good technique. And he scores goals. And that is why he was in the team the other night, because he is a goal threat.”

David Turnbull hits the post with his penalty kick against St Mirren. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

After the game in Dingwall, David Turnbull spoke to the mainstream media including Daily Record, and discussed where we’s at with his contract plus addressed that strange midweek celebration when he made a point of blocking out the outside noise, apparently a reference to the criticism his performances have been receiving from what the hack asking the question, called ‘punters’, or as we call them ‘Celtic supporters’.

David Turnbull of Celtic reacts after missing a penalty during the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Celtic FC and St. Mirren FC at Celtic Park Stadium on November 01, 2023  (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

You might  remember Ange Postecoglou calling the fans ‘punters’ last season where he was clearly embarrassed by that slip of the tongue. It was not too often that happened.

Here’s what David Turnbull had to say to the media on Saturday after his outstanding performance in Celtic’s 3-0 win over Ross County.

Q: David, another goal. Are you impressed with your own performance?

David Turnbull: “Yeah, pleased with the goal and my performance. I felt like I did well, I tried to get on the ball and create chances as they were tough to break down, but we got there in the end comfortably.”

Q: The manager said that you don’t need time to settle in or have a big run of games and that you’ve got to come in and hit the ground running right away. Are you pleased with the way you’ve done that in the last couple of games?

David Turnbull: “Once you get in the team you need to take your chance. There’s a lot of competition for places but once you’re in there you need to nail down your spot and I’m just trying to do that in every game I’m in.”

Q: You must feel as if you’ve got a lot to contribute to this club, still?

David Turnbull: “Yeah definitely. Every game that I play, I want to give my all and try to create and score chances for the team, and that’s what I’m going to continue to try and do.”

Q: The manager spoke yesterday about how your own future is down to you, and it’s up to you to get the football that you want to get. How do you feel about the situation at the moment?

David Turnbull: “To be honest, I just leave it to the club and the others that are involved with it. I just try and do my talking on the pitch and try to focus on my own game. I’m not too focused on that at the moment.”

Q: Is that the key? Do you need to block that out, or it’ll swamp over you?

David Turnbull: “Yeah, you can overthink things in life, in football as well especially, so it’s just about focusing on each game at a time. We’ve got a lot of games coming thick and fast, so we’re just focusing on all of them.”

Q: There was quite a lot made about your goal celebration the other night, with the fingers in your ears. Do you sometimes get a bit frustrated that there are certain players – and you might be one of them – that the punters seem to lose patience with quickly?

David Turnbull:  “Yeah, it’s one of those ones. I scored a goal; I was delighted but sometimes boys get a little bit of criticism here and there. You try and block it out as much as you can, so that’s what I was trying to do.”

Q: Tell us about Tuesday night, and how big that is?

David Turnbull: “It’s a huge game. A great game to go into, away to Atletico Madrid. We’re looking forward to it and we really need to get the result. It’s a huge game, so hopefully we can do that.”

Q: You must be desperate to be involved, after a good fist of it last year?

David Turnbull: “100 per cent. I want to be in there and I’ve tried to do myself no harm. It’s the manager’s decision obviously on Tuesday, so it’s down to him but if I’m called upon I’ll give it my best shot.”

Q: Do you think the team can take great heart from the way they played in the first match?

David Turnbull:“Yeah, in that game – especially in the first half – we played really well. They came into it a wee bit more in the second half but they’re a top side, so we’ve done well to nullify what they’ve got and showed what we can do as well.”

Q: As a group, how much more confident are you going into a challenge like that with a couple of years of Champions League level under your belt?

David Turnbull: “It’s good to see the progression from the start of last year in the Champions League. We can compete with these sides; we’ve shown it on plenty of occasions. We’ll be going into it with confidence and try to play our own game.”

Q: There are different sides to the game in these matches as well, a dramatic edge?

David Turnbull: “Yeah, there’s another side. We know that if you make mistakes then you get punished nine times out of ten off of these top sides. It’s all about our attacking play and defensively being organised and not conceding too many goals.”

IMAGO / Gonzales Photo. 2nd, November 2023. Mathias Kvistgaarden (36) of Broendby IF seen during the Oddset Cup match between Randers FC and Broendby IF at Cepheus Park.

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Matt Corr’s new book Majic, Stan and the King of Japan is out now and Neil Lennon, the Celtic captain that season, has written the foreword for us.

You can get a signed copy of the hardback version direct from Celtic Star Books by clicking on the image below. It’s also available an an e-book via Amazon Kindle and please note that all colour photographs that appear in the beautifully presented printed hardback book are also available in the Kindle version of Majic, Stan and the King of Japan…

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds 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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