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Mikey Johnston: Another Strange Twist In The Tale Of Celtic’s Unluckiest Player.

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Yesterday I said in a piece that Mikey Johnston was being kept around the building mainly because he offered us something in terms of our European registration. Someone pointed out to me that even without Mikey, we meet the criteria.

Our home grown players – we need eight, including four trained at the club – are as follows; Bain, Ralston, Welsh, Taylor, McGregor, McCarthy, Turnbull, Johnston and Forrest.

That’s nine, including five who were developed by Celtic’s academy.

This is probably why letting Mikey go on loan seems permissible to the club at the moment. In terms of what’s right for Celtic, and what’s right for Mikey Johnston, the argument in favour of his going out on loan is unassailable.

Alan Morrison, of the brilliant Celtic By Numbers site, actually did an excellent piece on Mikey yesterday where he sought to nail this idea that he isn’t as big a contributor as a lot of the previous hype around his talent would suggest. Aside from composure and an occasional lapse of confidence, Mikey has actually done pretty well.

But I think it’s unarguable that his development has stalled at Celtic somewhere along the line. I am convinced that he needs to leave for a spell, for his own good. I am not as convinced that he will return as I am about Liam Scales, and as I was once about the likes of Kris Ajer and Ryan Christie. It might be that Mikey’s best years lie away from Parkhead.

It just feels like a road we’ve over too many times now, with too many different coaches and types of playing style. The suggestion that we might be looking for another wide player niggles away in the background; who would be the obvious casualty if we signed one? Forrest has just signed a new deal and is on the brink of 100 goals.

With all respect to Mikey, Jota, Abada and Maeda are all better players than he is and all three of them can play wide left more effectively, although I prefer Abada on the right. Forrest can play wide left too, and all four would be ahead of him for that place.

I have always liked the kid, and always thought he was too good for the Celtic bench. But he’s in that horrible place where he’s not quite good enough to be starting in the team every week either, and for any footballer that’s a bad spot to be in.

I wish I thought Mikey Johnston was going to be a success at our club, the kind of success we all hoped for when he broke through and started dazzling us with that fancy footwork in Rodgers last six months, and then into Lennon’s time.

He regressed under him, as so many other players did.

The last two years, he hasn’t scored a single goal. He has two assists.

That’s not form that’s going to get him into this side, and nothing we’ve seen in pre-season suggests that the breakthrough will happen for him. Ange did tell him that it was his chance to shine … but he’s been overshadowed.

It is a sad pass that Mikey has come to, one where you can’t see how he progresses if he stays at Celtic Park. A move out will work wonders for him, and I actually hope he stays in Scotland instead of going abroad.

We can watch him more closely, and see how well he does if he’s playing every single week. And he offers a weapon against Ibrox, which is as good a reason for letting our loanees stay in this country, and this league, as any.

I did think he’d hang around this campaign.

I also feared for him if he did, because I can’t see any way that he will be anything like a regular in the side and he needs that, he needs to be playing, if he’s ever to realise even a fraction of his talent.

What I said in the article yesterday about Pirie’s seven players who the manager has to make a call on stands; the manager has made that call already and Pirie looks like an even bigger idiot in light of Celtic’s decision to let the player go and try his luck elsewhere.

I really do wish this kid every success, and every fulfilment of his ambitions in the game. There comes a time with all of our promising kids that we either see their development peak and their emergence as genuine stars, or their fade.

How many have we seen in our lifetimes?

Not just kids like Dembele, but guys who did crack the squad and stayed there for a while, many of them front men … eventually you have to ask yourself; “Are they really capable of becoming Celtic greats, or is it time to accept that it’s just not going to happen for them here?”

Mikey has almost 80 professional games for us, and he’s just 23.

He has a future in this sport, and that is not up for even the slightest doubt.

The tragedy for him, and for us, is that it might not be, and in fact probably won’t be, at Celtic Park.

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8 comments

  • Johnny Green says:

    Time to go Mikey, I wish you all the best.

  • Michael McCartney says:

    Mikey was very unlucky with injuries. When he first broke into the team under Brendan Rodgers he looked like he was going to be a big player for us. Circumstances worked against him with injuries causing long layoffs and a subsequent loss of confidence.
    The team under Neil Lennon started to unravel and having so many players looking to pastures new didn’t help younger players coming through.
    I do think its time for Mikey to look for new opportunities although I think it initially should be a loan deal to keep our options open as in my opinion there is a good player there. Its all about him regaining his confidence and not trying too hard to impress.

  • Cheezydee says:

    I thought he was going to be a big player for us going for 10, not that I thought he’d be a star, but regular enough and deadly enough. Injuries and just that season itself meant it didn’t happen.

    I’m glad you mentioned staying in Scotland. I’d like to see more do that, in the same league. You touched on it, it helps other teams claim points off sevco if the player works out. It also gives everyone a chance to see them regular, even if just on highlights. You imagine if Johnston say went to hearts and he regularly played well, scored, assisted, skinned players then we’d all be confident he was at least capable of doing well for Celtic domestically and he would have a weight lifted off needing to prove himself. Heading off abroad we’d never see that.

    I’m not really convinced him or Forrest are near regular starters these days

  • Hans says:

    He’s not good enough. Should be allowed to go with our best wishes.

  • woodyiom says:

    I like MJ – I think he has a lot to offer but his progress and career has completely stalled so a loan away is best all round. It gives him the chance to start again and see if his undoubted potential can be actually be realised .

    Obviously injuries have played a part on his stagnation but the crowd criticism he suffers every time he makes an error have definitely dented his confidence. What is it with certain players who seem to attract moans and groans every time they make even the slightest error (Taylor is another) while others get away no matter how many erroers they make? Whislt maybe not the best comparison MJ is constantly criticised for poor decision making (agreed he has at times made some poor decisions) yet I’ve NEVER heard anyone criticise Kyogo for making two horrendously poor decisions in the first Ibrox game last season which had he got correct we would have scored both times and won the game. If that had been MJ we would still be hearing about them today. Fans seem to be far more critical of our young Scottish players than they are of our full international foreign players!

  • Paul Mac says:

    Have always had the opinion that Mikey should have gone out on loan and got regular minutes in his second season instead of playing the odd match and being a backup.
    Unfortunately for him through lack of game time especially due to injuries he has stalled .. imagine if he had have gone on loan to another team where he would have been the star man .. had a great season .. bulked up (like Christie did at Aberdeen for example) and is now a firm fixture in the first team … ah well .. I always have the opinion ,, if Mikey wasnt a Celtic cub and had come through the Hibs academy for example .. would we be interested in signing him ? I also believe both Lawal and Moffat should be put out to a level higher than the Lowland league (Moffat is the same age as Abada believe it or not ?)

  • Frank Connelly says:

    would liked to have seen him in the gym building some muscle during his lengthy injure spells. To lightweight for me am afraid

  • Gerrard Duffin says:

    Hemaygonextseason

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