Olivier Ntcham has finally shown up for business and started to play football. All told he’s doing just fine down in Swansea, and is finally strutting his stuff. Is this the emergence of the player we always knew was there, but just didn’t see at Celtic Park?
Or is this a guy with some level of talent but zero consistency going through a bit of a purple patch?
Or is it something else; a lazy footballer who finally realises that if he’s going to make it in the game at all that he badly needs to step his game up and start producing on the pitch?
With Ntcham it could be any of these. Or some combination of them all.
There was never any question in my mind that Olivier Ntcham was good enough to play for Celtic, and perform at the highest level.
When he was part of the French contingent at Parkhead he seemed at his happiest. And maybe that was it. The thing about French players being very cliquey and needing to be surrounded by their mates has been common currency in English football for years. Certainly, when they were all together they did some job up here.
All of us remember big games in which Olivier Ntcham looked class, no more so than that incredible night in Rome when he scored the winner against Lazio. There were a couple of huge games against the Ibrox club too which stand out a mile.
But there were other matches where to call him disinterested was to shower him with praise. Because on those days he really did meander around the pitch like someone who was up here on holiday, like someone who could have cared less, but not much less.
When bad players leave Celtic there is none of this sense of frustration. That is reserved for those who’ve clearly got something but who, for one reason or another, don’t produce it in a Celtic strip or do so infrequently enough you wonder why they bother.
Someone called him a Ryan Kent flatterer the other day … that’s not strictly true though. I believe Kent to be one of the most over-hyped players I’ve ever watched. I never got that impression with Ntcham, there is so obviously talent there that it used to boil my blood to see him ambling about like a guy who didn’t realise he was on the clock.
If he’s getting it together, good for him. At last. He should have given us more and then he would not, right now, effectively be re-starting his career. I don’t wish him ill, and I never have. I just wish he’d have tried a little harder in a Celtic strip.