The Daizen Maeda Debate – Is Perseverance The Answer?

Daizen Maeda was probably the most talked about player on the supporters buses heading out of the coach parks behind the Jock Stein Stand and over at the Emirates on Tuesday night (an update on coach park issues was provided last night on The Celtic Star, see below).

READ THIS…Coach Park Update from Celtic SLO – One Good Thing About Tuesday Night

When the  Japan international forward found himself in behind the RB Leipzig defence and having an opportunity to run in on their goals from the left hand touchlline in the second half, his decision to attempt a cross which ended up in the Jock Stein stand was met with groans of frustration and moans of annoyance at Maeda wasting such an opportunity to threaten the Leipzig goal with a burst of his pace.

Yesterday we published an guest column from the Bhoys at The Celtic Exchange podcast where one of their chaps Martin MacDonald outlined among other points, his view on Daizen Maeda, asking if he is up to Champions League standard?

Martin wrote: “Daizen Maeda’s most impressive attributes are clear – he is an absolute workhorse, is extremely fit, does exactly as the manager asks, and is a team player. Those are all admirable traits for a player and ones that are vital in a side that presses with such intensity.

“But, there have been too many occasions in a Celtic shirt when Maeda’s actual quality on the ball has let him down and RB Leipzig again highlighted his lack of ability in crucial areas. Those being harsh would suggest he should have scored with a headed opportunity in the first half, but the cross was behind him and it would have taken a herculean effort to manipulate his body to get an attempt on target.

“Nobody has forgotten the actual golden opportunities that he has missed in Europe, though. It was his use of the ball that proved his downfall again. On one occasion, the fans sent a sea of groans in his direction after Maeda encouragingly broke down the left-hand side with Leipzig apparently on the ropes.

“Rather than utilising his speed to burst into the area, he proceeded to launch a rather embarrassing left-footed cross into the Jock Stein stand. At that point Celtic were desperate for promising breaks forward, and it was an opportunity wasted.

“Whenever he makes a mistake, he subsequently plays within himself which results in constant passes back to Greg Taylor. This would suggest he is a confidence player, and it is up to Ange Postecoglou to take him out of the firing line for a period, at least away from the starting line-up.

 (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP) 

Maeda does have some positives and he should not be written off, but either his quality in the final third must improve or he must be left out of bigger games.”

Ange Postecoglou was asked about Maeda’s form in the Champions League and indeed this season. Here’s some of what  Ange was saying in the media room after the 2-0 defeat to RB Leipzig on Tuesday night, watch below…

“It is just perseverance. I know people look at the end product and Daizen has been a bit unlucky on a couple of occasions against Leipzig,” the Celtic manager pointed out.

“He does put in an enormous work-rate. We felt from last week their right hand side can be a threat going forward and I thought his defensive work was outstanding and that helps us as a team. But he’s got to learn the other side of the game which is really important in terms of finishing and the end product.

“He keeps getting into those positions. In every game he does but goals are sort of eluding him. But again we can’t just sort of scrap him because he is not the finished product either.

“We have to persevere with all our players. Apart from Joe Hart you look at the rest of them age-wise and experience-wise and this is a massive jump for them. I am being really ambitious with the way I want us to play our football. That is going to be testing for them. But I am not discouraged by the way we are going. If anything I am encouraged to keep going down this road.”

(Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Ange also has James Forrest who has an abundance of Champions League expereince, as indeed The Celtic Star reminded Ange about at the pre-match Media Conference at Celtic Park on Monday afternoon. James Forrest replaced the injured Liel Abada, who actually was making little impact in the game, and the 31 year-old winger certainly added to his impressive cameo up at Perth with a very lively second half showing, where he looked to have the beating of the Leipzig left-back.

Surely Forrest deserves some domestic starts to get him up to full match fitness ahead of the must win game against Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday 25 October at Celtic Park?

If you agree with Martin or think Ange is correct, please add your own comments to the Daizen Maeda debate below…

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


  1. To be fair you could go through the whole team and find weaknesses in any player alongside their individual strengths.
    Our recruitment has appeared to incorporate the approach of targeting certain strengths for particular positions, alongside a supporting player for the same position, whereby that player perhaps brings some of the attributes missing from his teammate.
    It’s actually a fairly clever way of recruiting on a budget, given the alternative is £20m plus for the finished article, or buying a youthful player who would need intensive coaching and the time he perhaps wouldn’t get at Celtic to develop fully, as well as make and learn from the mistakes we have little patience for.
    We’ll see just that in the coming weeks where Abildgaard -once fit – will showcase the screening and defensive No6 traits that Calmac perhaps has less of, yet we’ll no doubt decry his lack of playmaking abilities, something that Calmac has in abundance, and it is much the same across the whole squad.
    It appears we are not building a squad/team that will have all the skills essential to manage games for itself, instead we are building a squad to fit one system of play, but ensuring we do at least have alternative styles withing the group, which means the system can remain in place yet also be altered enough, by changing personnel, to mix things up when ‘Plan A’ on any given day is creaking.
    Yes, Maeda struggles with the subtleties of attacking composure, and yes, he operates from neutral to 4th gear with nothing in between, however Jota’s attempts at pressing defenders, tracking runners or covering for Greg Taylor are nowhere near as strong as Daizen’s.
    Such is the life of a Champions League team built on a fraction of the budget of others, and it is something we benefit from at a local level, yet offer little sympathy to our bread-and-butter opposition. We do at least have a manager, who when he has the time to work on the training ground with players, will improve them. We just have to be patient when it comes to European football. Look at Club Brugge, cannon fodder for last two seasons – flying now.

    • Can I just point out we aren’t a Champions League team,by any stretch of the imagination. What you are saying there is that if someone gets injured ,either before or during the game ,the system changes ( that’s also the reason the team can only play for 60 mins) .Lesser teams in the SPL know they pretty much just have to stop us scoring in the first 60 mins ,then push forward and maybe get a result. That’s hardly a wise way to work tbh. Is Ideguchi still at the club? If so,we still don’t know what his strengths are. Kyogo hasn’t been the same since since he was needlessly played in the League Cup Final last season. I wish someone would ask him why he thinks it’s a good idea to start with 3 forwards under 5ft 7 ins.

  2. These comments by Ange tells a far bigger story than what you are saying!

    Haksabanovic’s favourite position is the left wing (where Jota plays) as he himself said. So, Jota can’t play but Haksabanovic won’t get to play there even if Jota is injured because of Maeda! This is what Ange is telling us.

    This is telling the players in the dressing room that if a player has a dip in form and you are one of Ange’s favourites then he will continue to play you. He won’t give another player an opportunity. If this happens in a couple of positions then you have players than could do better at the time due to the other players having had a slump in form but they won’t play. This leads to splits in the dressing room, other players realising this and loosing faith in the manager. Also say Maeda has just lost form (I am not convinced he had any to begin with, he always needs 2 touches to control the ball even from the first day) what is evident is that he is getting worse the more he plays maybe as his confidence is low! This doesn’t help the player, team, squad or confidence in the manger, squad or that the fans have.

    Ange has shown that he is tactically inept, cannot watch a game and change tactics to alter the outcome. He only plays one way, well that works in the champions league if you have a budget like Man city and Real Madrid but not when your budget is the 10th of the size of theirs. You also don’t need to change your philosophy about the way you play. You can make changes to your tactics but still relentlessly attack. Ange wanted a holding midfielder in the summer he said at the start, he waits till the deadline day before signing one, signs one that hasn’t played in 6 months then doesn’t even play him in the Spl to get him ready for the Champions league.

    Ange said the Champions league was a learning curve to which I said last week that he was the one not learning. Well, these comments about Maeda go further than that, it shows he is pig headed and incapable of learning himself.

    His team selections and ability not to change anything apart from personnel shows that Ange cannot take us any further! Our last 7 games have shown me that the team isn’t improving, in fact it is even getting worse in the Spl as well (due to confidence: see above)!

    Rumours are that Wolves want him, then let him go! I believe we have a better squad than our champions league results show and if we had a better manager then we would have more points. Ange can’t take us any further because he won’t change, learn and adapt!

    • Yep,the way Ange religiously wants to play isn’t unique. His reluctance or inability to change is the reason the top clubs in England,Germany, etc won’t take him.

  3. Maybe if he stopped utilising Maeda less as a headless chicken and more as a footballer we would see some improvement. I’m sure he signed him only for his fitness,which was legendary in Japan , and not his skills as a footballer. Then he says he’ll have to learn how to finish ,which was a bit cheeky.