“We’d love to have him back. He’s a brilliant player,” Scales desperate for Idah return

First media conference of the season at Lennoxtown this afternoon and it was Liam Scales who had the privilege of kicking things off ahead of Celtic trip down the M77 tomorrow evening to take on Ayr United.

The Championship side, managed by former Celtic captain Scott Brown, will officially open their new North stand with this money spinning visit from the Scottish Champions.

Celtic have not played a Somerset Park since October 1999 when John Barnes’ side won a league cup tie by 4-0, although that scoreline flattered Celtic.  In Celtic’s dreadful 1977-78 season, where we failed miserably to cope with the transfer of Kenny Dalglish to Liverpool, Celtic managed to lose twice at Somerset Park in league matches both before the bells at New Year, then Ayr were relegated and they’ve never returned to the top division.

That season Ayr only won nine of their 36 matches and two were against Celtic! Celtic went from league and Scottish Cup double winners to finishing fifth with Rangers winning a treble.

Celtic did return to Somerset Park for a friendly match at the end of January 1978 and did get a win (5-0) although the crowd as you can see from this photograph looked considerably smaller than tomorrow night’s sell-out, with over 6000 Celtic supporters snapping up tickets and a large audience guaranteed on Celtic TV who are broadcasting the match.

Here’s how Liam Scales’ media conference went today and of particular interest is his comments about a possible return of Adam Idah…

Q: Good to be back? Tell us how it’s been so far.

Liam Scales: “Yeah, it’s been good and enjoyable to be back. I’ve been looking forward to getting back to work after a nice little break. It’s been good, we’re working hard. Not everyone’s back because of the internationals and stuff like that but it’s been good. Tough but good.”

Q: Have you given yourself time during this summer period to take a breath and look back at what you achieved last season?

Liam Scales: “I did, the first couple of weeks I had a chance to do that. The last week or so I’ve been dying to get back in and push for more this year. I want to do better this year than last year. There’s always room for improvement and that’s the aim.”

Q: What was the single biggest thing you learned from last season?

Liam Scales: “Just the relentlessness of the season. I think with international games I played 50 games at a high intensity – I’ve never done that before in a season. I’ve learned how to cope with that over the last year. The plan is to play as many games as possible. I feel like I’ve learned a lot from last year about keeping my body right and being able to do that.”

Q: The way last season unfolded, the title race and everything that came with that, to get to the end with two trophies, does that make you more determined to make this season even better?

Liam Scales: “100 per cent. We have a lot to achieve this year. There’s obviously the three domestic trophies and then the Champions League is a bit different, but we’re looking forward to that and getting our games in. Hopefully, we can pick up more results and see how far we can go in that tournament. There is room for improvement, definitely. It was a disappointing start last season going out in the League Cup and we want to go all the way in that competition. That’s the first trophy we can get our hands on and that’s what we’re looking at.”

Q: The summer last year there was a bit of disruption with Ange Postecoglou leaving and Brendan Rodgers coming in. Now with the manager having a full pre-season and summer to work with alongside his players, is there confidence that you can bounce back even stronger at the beginning of the season?

Liam Scales: “Definitely. I think the manager coming in at the start of last pre-season needed time to get his message across and get us working the way he wanted us to work and away from what Ange was doing here. They both have brilliant styles, they’re just different. You have got to adapt. Now that he’s had that time we won’t have to work on that as much this year. That’s going to benefit us as we can go straight in and know what we have to do, and we know how to do it.”

Q: Has that manager changed anything in his message since you got back? Or is it more of the same and building on what was good from last season?

Liam Scales: “It’s been pretty much the same. We finished the season strong and we’ve carried on from that. He just wants the same intensity and the same sort of attitude. That’s what we’re going to try and do. Yeah, definitely. We’ll get a good pre-season in, we’ve got our tour and a few friendly games. We’ll all be fit and strong for the first week of August.”

Q: I want to ask you about your teammate here last season Adam Idah. A lot has been made about him joining the club permanently and what’s the view in the changing room? How would the boys like to have Adam back?

Liam Scales: “We’d love to have him back. He’s a brilliant player but to have him in the changing room as well is brilliant. He’s a good guy and he’s funny and everyone got on well with him. We would all love to see him back, he was massive for us, and he scored massive goals and put in massive performances. We’d all love him back but it’s out of our control. Hopefully, it happens.”

Q: Idah scored massive goals in the five months that he was here, but what does he do differently?

Liam Scales: “He’s obviously different to Kyogo. Kyogo is obviously brilliant, he’s an amazing player, but Adam’s got more physicality. Kyogo is better at playing off people’s shoulders, and he’s scored loads of goals doing that. But Adam gives you that option where you can hit his feet, and he can hold off the big Scottish defenders and that’s a great outlet for me as a centre-half and for the centre-midfielders. They can play into him, and we can get our creative players playing off of him as well. Apart from the goals he’s scored, that’s a strength of his.”

Q: Is having more players that can come off the bench where the team improves this season in the Champions League and goes on to win three trophies instead of two?

Liam Scales: “Definitely. I think being able to adapt and change, especially in the Champions League. In most games domestically we can play the same way because we’re going to have a lot of the ball and a lot of teams sit off us. You can pretty much go out with the same game plan most weeks. There are obviously little bits and pieces that you need to change for certain teams, but it’s definitely good to have different options and different styles playing against Champions League teams because you might not have as much of the ball and you might have to defend more. For us to have different players for different options, that’d be great.”

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Q: Adam Idah was such a difference-maker, wasn’t he?

Liam Scales: “I think that’s the thing. Adam was coming on after Kyogo had run the centre-halves ragged. He was coming on and he was a completely different threat, he’s bigger, he’s more physical, and that worked in our favour because he could come on physically challenging these defenders. A lot of the time he’d beat them, and score goals. He was quality and I don’t think it could have gone better for him.”

Q: With the new UCL format, you must be relishing playing so many different games through until January?

Liam Scales: “Yeah, 100%. Getting the extra games, it’s two extra games, and you’re getting to play against a different team each time, it’s going to bring loads of different experiences. To have two extra games in the tournament guaranteed is brilliant. That’s the type of thing you look back on fondly at the end. And it gives us more chances to win games. Having won the last game we played has made us hungry to go on again and pick up points.”

Q: Does the new format work more in Celtic’s favour, is there a better chance of progression this year?

Liam Scales: “It’s hard to tell. It probably is because you’re playing two from Pot 4 and two from Pot 3, but these are still going to be challenging games, and we won’t really know until next year when we’ve played a year in it. But it’ll be interesting and I’m looking forward to it.”

Adam Idah  (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

READ THIS…Celtic on verge of signing Adam Idah as player makes his intentions clear

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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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