“The only way to get better is putting players under pressure for their place,” Stubbs

Alan Stubbs has been speaking about Celtic’s summer recruitment and insists that while project signings are fine they do not provide suitable competition to what would be the strongest Celtic team that Brendan Rodgers could select with everyone fit.  And the former Celtic defender believes that is what is needed if the overall quality of the Celtic starting XI is going to improve.

Cameron Carter-Vickers (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“With the likes of Carter-Vickers, we knew he was going to be out for two to three months,” Stubbs said, via Best Wallet. “So, you’re wanting to bring in someone who could potentially easily fit into that mould.

“The only way to get better is putting players under pressure for their place with other quality players. But I don’t think that’s the case.

ROTTERDAM, 19Ã09-2023, Stadium Feijenoord / De Kuip , Champions League , season 2023 / 2024, Feyenoord – Celtic , Celtic goalkeeper Joe Hart.

“Look at their strongest XI, are they under any type of pressure? That tells you where their strength in depth is at. At goalkeeper, Joe Hart is overwhelming No.1 and that situation is reflected elsewhere in the team. I’m not sure the No.2 is really close to replacing Joe.

“There are question marks at the moment. The one thing Joe will do is respond to the criticism. He’s the type of character who’ll understand that his performances need to improve.

“He’s come under scrutiny. Knowing Joe and the professional he is, Joe will demand more from himself,” Stubbs added.

Feyenoord were this morning sharing the free-kick that gave them the crucial opener against Celtic in the Champions League on Tuesday night. Hart has taken some criticism for not moving his feet fast enough to get over to save that after the ball bounced off the wet surface. Others though entirely blame the wall and in particular it’s poor positioning and the decision to have Kyogo in there at all, never mind positioning him in the most important spot.

Don’t forget that Joe Hart saved the penalty and had that gone in the floodgates could have opened
and Celtic could have been on the receiving end of a humiliating scoreline.

Celtic’s Joe Hart and Benjamin Siegrist at Full Time during a cinch Premiership match between Celtic and Dundee United at Celtic Park, on September 25, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

Stubbs is correct though regarding the lack of challenge within the Celtic squad for the gloves. Benjamin Siegrist has never looked like making the breakthrough and is apparently looking for a move. The fact that there wasn’t a great deal of interest in his services over the summer perhaps tells its own story.

Scott Bain has been a back-up keeper for several seasons now and appears happy with that. When called upon he has been adequate but he is clearly not an elite goalkeeper like Joe Hart, who is admittedly moving towards the end of his playing career.

Yesterday Brendan Rodgers spoke about his own frustrations over the outcome of the summer transfer window and that appears to have been relating to one or two deals that didn’t get over the line, although not for the want of trying from Celtic. These moves could go through in January and we’d expect that a top quality keeper, considerably younger than Joe Hart, will be signed and will give Celtic the certainty of having two top keepers vying for the gloves.

Scott Bain concedes in the Europa League match against Valencia

In terms of the central defence, losing Cameron Carter-Vickers so soon after his return, coupled by the decision to allow the want-away Carl Starfelt to leave has left Celtic short on experienced campaigners in that position, with all of the new recruits either out injured or suspended for Celtic’s next Champions League match against Lazio a week on Wednesday. That has opened the door for the hitherto unfancied Liam Scales to make an unlikely claim for a starting spot in the Celtic side and the Irishman in certainly doing his best to make that happen.

Matt Corr in Rotterdam…in 1982!

Matt Corr from The Celtic Star spoke to Brendan Rodgers at yesterday’s media conference at Lennoxtown about Liam Scales and this is what the Celtic manager had to say:

“On Liam, I think he’s been excellent. I think now he feels really happy that he’s created some sort of identity here.

“When he was in before he was a bit of a bit-part player, then he had his time out on loan. He comes back in the summer and thinks his future is maybe away from here, but he trained really well over the course of pre-season, and it was really just about timing and taking his opportunity,” Brendan said to The Celtic Star.

IMAGO / Shutterstock – Photo by Kirk O Rourke/Shutterstock Liam Scales of Celtic clears from Cyriel Dessers of theRangers during the Scottish Premiership match at Ibrox on 3 September 2023

“The Ibrox game was a massive game for him. It’s the biggest challenge for any Celtic player to go, especially with no supporters. He stood up strong to that and was excellent.

“Away at Feyenoord, he was very, very good and very composed. For someone who’s not been near to that level – with the greatest of respect – I thought he played with a real composure and was really competitive. He just has to keep focused and stay calm and keep working hard and take those performances and make them as consistent as he can be,” the Celtic manager told Matt Corr.

Feyenoord’s Luka Ivanusec vies with Celtic’s Liam Scales during the UEFA Champions League Group E football match between Feyenoord and Celtic FC at the Feyenoord Stadium in Rotterdam on September 19, 2023. (Photo by JOHN THYS/AFP via Getty Images)

Celtic may well be looking at adding more experience in January. Take Aaron Mooy for instance. He was a stand-out for Australia at the World Cup last winter and continued that outstanding form on his return to Celtic. The Champions League would not have fazed him in the slightest.

Celtic v Greenock Morton – Scottish Cup – Fourth Round –  Aaron Mooy celebrates scoring during the Scottish Cup fourth round match at Celtic Park. Saturday January 21, 2023. Photo Jane Barlow

An ongoing back problem meant that he decided to hang up his boots in the summer and is now in the process of leaving Scotland to move back home to Australia. Celtic’s midfield recruitments in the summer were nowhere near that level of tried and tester performers at the highest level and that inexperience cost Celtic dearly when Odin Thiago Holm got himself sent off, reducing Celtic to nine men and leaving the rest of the team with a damage limitation exercise in a match that looked very much winnable in the first half.

Referee Irfan Peljto gives the red card to Odin Thiago Holm of Celtic during the UEFA Champions League match between Feyenoord and Celtic FC at Feyenoord Stadium de Kuip on September 19, 2023 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. ANP OLAF KRAAK

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 editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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