I liked that AEK Athens thought they would be cheeky and offer to take Barkas off our hands on loan next season. After we’ve paid a small fortune for him, and things have gone wrong for him at Parkhead they thought they could bring him home for a year, on the cheap.
It’s brazen and quite amusing. It’s also proof that they believe in this player and an indication that we should as well. Barkas has suffered like no other player at the club.
I was appalled by the way Lennon treated him. In my view he was scapegoated.
Barkas is a full international. Athens fans loved him and the club does too.
They have not been put off by his struggles here. The good news is that Celtic don’t either. The club has firmly rejected this offer on the understanding that the player has a future at the club.
So he should. A new coaching team can bring out the best in him; I have little doubt about that. He can, and he will, come good for us. Let’s be honest, he can only improve. In the fullness of time we’ll know what we’ve got.
We don’t know right now.
Keepers and strikers are all about confidence.
There is a mad streak in most goalkeepers, but I’ve often thought that it was a reaction to living on the edge every week. If you’re a predatory striker you might get a couple of chances in a game; a goalkeeper has to be even more alert.
As the last line of defence you will be tested to an extent no-one else on the field gets.
If you play for a club like Celtic, at the top of the table, rarely subjected to searching scrutiny it has to be worse; it would be easy to switch off at our club, to sleep at the wheel, as the opposition rarely troubles you … Barkas’ problem is that you can barely remember him making a good save.
Here are some stats on him.
He played 13 games for us in the league and had shut-outs in six of the games.
His saves-to-shots ratio is far better than it sounds in that competition; he saved over 65% of them.
There’s a stat which you don’t read in the papers, but I’ve double checked it and I assure you it’s true.
Scott Bain’s save percentage in the league is only 72%, so there really isn’t a lot between the two of them on a game-by-game basis.
Yet we’ve written Barkas off.
Let’s not forget either that Barkas is playing in a new country, at a new club, where everything that could go wrong did. He was playing for a manager who seemed sceptical about him from the first.
That cannot have done his confidence a lot of good.
Once he’s properly settled in we’ll see what he’s really got.
AEK Athens know already, which is why they wanted him back.
There’s something reassuring about that.