Some people think that Ange is facing a big decision over Daizen Maeda. Some people think that there’s so much scrutiny of this guy right now that the boss has no choice but to drop him. I think if we had a fully fit attacking midfield he might.
But if the manager makes that decision he won’t be making it because of external pressure. This guy doesn’t do that. He doesn’t break for anyone. If he does it he’ll do it for two reasons; for the good of the team and for the good of the player himself.
Ange will manage this guy well. He has backed him publicly in the media.
That, actually, gives him the cover he needs if he does decide to drop him. But the boss will have to be convinced that it’s the right thing for the team. He will have to be convinced that doing so will not make matters worse.
The player has a confidence crisis. That might only make it worse.
Ideally, Maeda has to play in a side which itself is liberated from the pressure of recent weeks and months. Ideally, he has to play in a team where everything is flowing again.
That means that when he gets those chances he knows the whole match isn’t riding on what he does.
Once this guy has gotten back in the groove he’ll prove he’s an asset again.
So that’s the judgement Ange will make.
Does playing him against Hibs make the team weaker?
Does it risk making matters worse for the player himself?
If Hibs do intend to attack us, as I wrote earlier their manager clearly plans to, that gives us space and room to run in and that’s where Maeda has been at his best. It could be the perfect game for him.
And yet, there’s an argument to made for putting him on the bench and hopefully introducing him to a game that is already as good as won. That really would give him the confidence to be himself and get some positive minutes under his belt.
We forget sometimes that this is still a relatively young Celtic team, and that a lot of these guys are over here away from family and friends and perhaps still trying to adapt.
There are people who will sneer at that, many of them folk who’ve never been more than 20 miles from where they were born. I find it quite ridiculous some of the criticism he gets.
But a section of our support always needs a whipping boy and now that Greg Taylor has deprived them of an easy target they’ve found another. It’s baffling that a number of our fans don’t seem to derive any real pleasure from watching this team, as they are always looking for a negative. Right now Maeda is that guy and they want him dropped.
But if he is, they shouldn’t get any ideas about being responsible for that.
The boss will do it for his reasons or not at all. He will not pay heed to the white noise.