Mikey Johnston: Brendan Rodgers wanted me to stay at Celtic Park

Celtic did a bit of squad alignment in the January transfer window this year to streamline a group of players that verged on the ridiculous. With the summer recruitment drive placing quantity over quality once again for the first time in a long time, Rodgers admitted the club was bursting at the seams with footballers and had to trim the numbers down as soon as possible.

Yosuke Ideguchi and David Turnbull left on permanent deals to Vissel Kobe and Cardiff City respectively, whilst Nat Phillips returned to parent club Liverpool after a brief spell in Scottish football and Kwon Hyeok-kyu, Mikey Johnston, Adam Montgomery (a short-lived move due to injury), Johnny Kenny and Marco Tilio all found temporary homes for the time being whilst Brendan Rodgers figures out what to do long-term.

Republic of Ireland star Johnston headed off to West Bromwich Albion in the English Championship and has started life really well in England’s second tier. The winger was a sporadic figure at Celtic Park this season having returned from another loan spell in Portugal with Vitoria Guimaraes last year. Before he left the Glasgow side he signed a contract extension as the club thought he could go and get valuable minutes to kick his career on.

Mikey Johnston of West Bromwich Albion during the Sky Bet Championship match between West Bromwich Albion and Cardiff City at The Hawthorns on February 13, 2024 (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Although Mikey did well on his loan spell away from the club, the player never managed to find that consistency when he returned in the summer. Rodgers gave him numerous opportunities to go and show that he could be his main man on the wings during this title race but the Irishman couldn’t get to grips with demands and pressure of playing for the Hoops regularly.

Despite little flashes here and there off the bench again at times, Johnston understood he had to leave Parkhead this winter and has revealed Brendan actually wanted him to stay around for now. Johnston said: “I think [Rodgers] probably would have kept me if it was up to him,” as reported by Football Scotland. “But I think we had nine wingers at the end so I think it would have been harsh had they made me stay. He was great with me to be honest with you and I think he wants the best for me so obviously coming here was that.

“I would have loved to be starting every week at Celtic but this is another massive club I have come to so it does not feel like a step down. I am obviously playing in a good league as well and it is important for my career. I am here now and I just want to make an impact and cross that bridge when I come to it. I want to make an impact and help the team get to the play-offs.

The homegrown talent is now looking to put his injury setbacks behind him once and for all and find a place to really grow as a footballer at the highest level possible. He said: “To be fair it has been pretty seamless. It can be difficult. Last season I moved to Portugal and that was a little bit harder with the language barrier. But we have got great guys in here who have helped me settle in really easily.

“I just want to make an impact early doors and it is about doing my talking on the pitch and hopefully I can keep doing that. I think the manager has a certain way of playing and technically he is very demanding, I have to learn what he wants from me and then I can implement what I know I am good at and then influence games.”

Paul Gillespie


About Author

I'm a Garngad Bhoy through and through. My first ever Celtic game was a friendly against Italian side Parma at Celtic Park, in 2002. Currently a student of English Literature and Education at the University of Strathclyde for my sins. Favourite game would be a toss up between beating Manchester United with that Naka freekick, or the game against the Oldco when Hesselink scored in the dying seconds. I'm still convinced Cal Mac is wasted playing that far back.

Comments are closed.