Opinion: Celtic have much more to worry about than this divisive Griffiths sideshow

The Celtic manager and indeed the support have much more to worry about this morning that the sideshow matter of Leigh Griffiths returning to action for the club in the 6-2 defeat against West Ham yesterday that knocked the wind out of the sails of everyone at Celtic Park or watching on Pass to Paradise or on Premier Sports.

Ange Postecoglou has plenty to think about ahead on Wednesday’s second leg of the Champions League qualifier against FC FC Midtjylland in central Jutland and in truth little of importance will involve Leigh Griffiths who will remain a bit part squad member.

Even that for a sizeable percentage of the Celtic support is more than he deserves and these fans reckon that he has no business wearing our jersey or representing our club ever again after his latest controversy, this time concerning messages apparently sent to school girls. The matter had been referred to Police Scotland who investigated and decided that there was no criminality involved and Celtic too looked at this, perhaps not giving enough consideration to the morality issue in this the latest Griffiths incident and he was cleared to return to the squad by the club.

Yesterday when Griffiths arrived onto the park alongside 9 other substitutes on the 55th minute, the Celtic support’s initial reaction when he touched the ball was telling. What followed was a contest among the support – which was more competitive that the action on the park – when the boos were countered by others cheering. It was a sideshow that we could all do without.

My own view is that Griffiths didn’t deserve a deal anyway and he was extremely lucky to get it. To then get involved in this seedy nonsense almost immediately was so typical of him as a person. Yet he relies on his previous goalscoring exploits which in truth are almost ancient history as far as Celtic’s current needs are concerned. If he is involved for instance next Saturday night against Hearts at Tynecastle in the Scottish Premiership opener you can imagine the abuse that is going to be directed at Griffiths and it is going to be the same all season or as long as Celtic maintain their current stance on the player.

“What happens next is going to be down to Leigh and his performances,” Postecoglou said to Premier Sports after the hammering yesterday. “If he works hard at training and produces the kind of football he can, scoring goals, I’m sure the crowd will get behind him.

“Maybe it is a big challenge for him but that’s what he wanted. He didn’t have to come back – he wanted to come back and play for the club again. He wanted to contribute. When you make that decision, you embrace everything that comes along with it,” Ange said.

And he was clear that he’s not interested in telling the Celtic support to get behind the player or to cut out the booing as the sideshow was a talking point rather than a complete focus on one of the worse defensive performances from a Celtic team playing at home ever.

“I won’t be telling the Celtic supporters anything. They’ve followed this club a lot longer than I’ve been here,” Postecoglou stated. “My job is to produce a team they’re proud of and we let them down in that respect today.

“It was disappointing because there were some positive things in it. But there were also bits of our game that were poor and against a good quality opponent you get punished.

“The defence was OK the other night but it wasn’t great today. It’s an area we need to keep focusing on, but we just didn’t defend well as a unit or stick to our task.”

The transfer window frustrations means that Postecoglou has at least one hand tied behind his back after the Celtic Board wasted over 100 days in the frustrating and ultimately unsuccessful pursuit of Eddie Howe left the new manager with nowhere near enough time to build up his squad ahead of this vital Champions League qualifying round.

“We’ve got two players in and we can’t even use them. It’s just the way it is. We don’t have any other options in defence. Unless they’ve been hiding from me. I can only play the ones who are available. I’m not bringing anyone in before Wednesday and I have to focus on getting a really good performance.

“I’m not an entertainer. I’m here to hopefully create a culture that maintains the values and traditions of this club and also brings success. I’m not interested in people being happy.”

“Me and many others who booed Leigh Griffiths today will keep on doing this with many more who are allowed in until he is gone from the club. The atmosphere in the ground turned toxic and it’s going to lead to serious scraps if the powers that be persist with keeping (him)” Kieran Smyth.

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 editor@thecelticstar.co.uk


  1. Jim O'Rourke on

    Leigh Griffiths let us down last season with him not being fit enough to play was the beginning of the end for our quest to get the 10 and one year later he wasn’t available for pre-season games because of his social media activities we shot ourselves in the foot by giving him a new deal regardless of the pay structure he should not be allowed to represent our club again. We now have possibly the youngest squad we’ve had in a very long time and the fact that these young players will have very few senior players to look up to, what kind of example of a professional will Griffiths be to them? We aren’t stupid or naive we know that he was kept because frankly we have no one to replace him with because as usual we leave everything to the last minute