Carl Starfelt had one training session lasting around one hour before being quite literally thrown in at the deep-end at Tynecastle on the opening day of the season. The £4m signing from Russian side Rubin Kazan has not been without his critics in the early part of the season but he is now gradually finding his feet and establishing a good relationship alongside Cameron Carter-Vickers and Joe Hart in the Celtic defence. And on Saturday Boli Bolingoli put forward his case for a return to a regular starting spot as the best left back currently at the club.
Did Motherwell manage even one shot at goal against Celtic? Starfelt deserved more time than some were prepared to give him but thankfully one man with more patience is the Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou and as he said at the weekend things are now starting to fall into place for his new-look Celtic side and they will only get better as this season progresses.
For Carl Starfelt he now feels that he is finding his feet in a Celtic shirt and reckons that the win at the weekend is indicative of the improvements within the squad as the group get a better understanding of each others’ game and the way the manager wants them to play.
“We had some injuries and some guys coming in late like myself, but now I feel we have most of our players back and some more who are really experienced are also coming back. So it’s positive and so was the last game. It’s positive at Celtic right now. I think we will continue to grow and grow,” the Swedish defender added.
“It is nice as a defender to get a clean sheet, of course. Also for the whole team, but the most important thing is that we win,” Starfelt said after the 2-0 win against Motherwell, as reported by Daily Record. “We had a very solid performance and I felt we dominated most parts of the game. To win 2-0 makes us very happy as it was away from home and it is not easy to go there, so I think we did a good job. Of course, it is one clean sheet and we should not fly away with it. We need to keep working hard and have stuff that we need to keep working on.
“But I feel we are getting more and more comfortable with each other and also just the way we are playing. I don’t think we have reached our maximum performance yet, but we are playing better and better and that is an important thing.
“We had a good performance and it started by keeping the ball well. That gives them little time to be able to attack us. It starts there. Then we got the ball, we had control over their strengths.
“We are happy with it, but it’s straight to another big game on Tuesday, so we recharge the batteries and go again. We were good, but, as I said, it is just one game, so we should not think now everything is fine.”
The Starfelt- Carter Vickers central defensive partnership that was pretty much thrown together out of necessity by Ange Postecoglou is now starting to click. “The more you play alongside someone, the more you begin to understand each other. But it’s not just about two players, it’s about the whole team and I think we have so many games that you have to change players.
“But it’s about having a strong core on the pitch. When you have that, you change players here and there and it will still be stable. I feel we are taking a step in the right direction,” Starfelt noted.
And the Swedish international defender is aware that Christopher Jullien, a £7m signing from Toulouse, is close to returning to action after missing all of this year through the knee injury sustained against Dundee United in the last game of 2020 when he collided with a goalpost at Celtic Park while preventing a goal.
I haven’t seen him play too much, but I think he’s a good player,” Starfelt said. “He’s a great guy and I’ve trained with him in a couple of sessions. He is looking sharp and we hope to have him back soon.”
Celtic won the first in a series of winnable games in the domestic and Europa League fixtures sandwiched between the last and the next International break in November. Now it’s Ferencvaros at Celtic Park in the first match of a double header against them in this window. “We will keep working hard and, hopefully, we’ll get more games like the one at Motherwell where we can show ourselves,” Starfelt said, looking ahead to tomorrow.