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Mikey Johnston Is Thriving In Portugal, But Is He Good Enough To Return For Celtic?

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Before Mikey Johnston left this club on loan – which was one of the most expected developments of the whole summer – he was offered, and signed, a new deal at Celtic.

Few people in the support expected that. Mikey was one of those guys who I think we all felt might benefit from a fresh start elsewhere. But the powers here at Celtic have offered him a way back home.

Or did they? Were they really holding open the return door, or making sure we got a good fee if we ultimately decide to sell? Does Mikey really have a future here after all, or is this something else? Is this, in fact, Mikey being fattened up for the market?

I am going to say no.

I’m going to say that this is Mikey being prepared for a return after all. Someone – and no prizes for guessing who – thinks that he can be polished and made into the finished article, and if Ange believes that it would take a brave person indeed to bet the other way.

We have seen a genuine talent there, but only in little fits and starts and very rarely when there is serious pressure on him. But it’s obvious if you watch Mikey that he has more in his locker than, say, a player like Ibrox’s overhyped Ryan Kent … Mikey has more talent in one big toe than Kent does in his whole box of tricks and I’d defy anyone to argue otherwise.

The big questions, for Mikey, have always been first whether he can play under pressure and two whether he can stake his claim for a place in this team with so many other top talents in front of him in the queue. That job got even harder when we signed Haksabanovic, who is beginning to look like a real find. He will struggle to even get on the bench right now.

But that’s sort of the point. Mikey is better away on loan than sitting on the bench, and he’s certainly better off away than sitting in the stand. As with every player who isn’t quite where he hoped to be in his career at this point, he had a decision to make and everyone agrees, I think, that he made the right one.

If he’s thriving it’s because he plays games which is more than he would here, and that alone justifies the move.

If he really does make it over there, and if he returns here as a better, more complete, player then the door really will be open for him and anything goes.

One of the things he has on his side, after all, is his status as a home-grown player. It wouldn’t be enough if he genuinely had nothing to offer us, but since know he does that might just be crucial in helping him chart a way back to Celtic as a first team footballer.

It will not be easy. But in this guy’s time here so far nothing has been. He’s doing the right things at the moment. That can only mean good things in his future, whether it’s at Celtic or not.

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14 comments

  • Paul Mac says:

    Think it is a bit of a stretch to say that he is “thriving” he has spent the last 3 league matches on the bench coming on with about 10-15 minutes before the end. He did play and scored 2 very good goals in the cup match .. however it was against a team from the 3rd division but it was good to see him score. He has started to learn the language which (I know personally having lived here for 20 years) is not easy so fair play to him! Hopefully he gets more minutes this weekend.

    • Roonsa says:

      Good insight Macca.

    • Damian says:

      Indeed. Maybe a case of alternative Celtic media folks spending half their time complaining about Daily Record reports and the other half exaggerating the life out of any remotely positive Celtic stories in the Daily Record?

  • Geoff says:

    Mikey is a very skilful player but he reminds me of the cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz.
    He just doesn’t have the heart or bravery when things are not going well for the team or him personally.
    Don’t think he can even secure a place on the bench with this squad.

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    No for me. If he’s doin better in Portugal he’d be wise tae stick there imo. Nae doubt has decent skill, tho far too often with nae finished product. Countless occasions where he’s used a few moves and just run out of ideas at the end of it. Good luck tae the guy, tho ah don’t think he’s good enough for us.

  • SSMPM says:

    The bhoy’s got talent but inconsistency too and a history of injuries preventing any valid longer-term assessment so far.
    it’s going to take regular games from a starting position, fitness and consistently good performances to encourage anyone to put him ahead of current options.

  • Roonsa says:

    I don’t think the Celtic board will have been clear on what the future holds for Mikey when they decided to loan him out. Obviously they do feel that one of the options you mentioned is going to manifest but who can say which one it is? Sell him based on performances in Portugal or bring him home with the intention of giving him a run?

    Either way, it’s a surefire win win if he is doing the bizzo in Portugal.

    I wish him all the best either way.

  • Bryan Coyle says:

    Never forgave him for missing that sitter against sevco in the 2019 League Cup Final.No way back for me.

  • Starman says:

    NOWHERE near good enuf & as fit as Soapy Soutar at the FILTH!! If we can get money all well & good but I’m afraid his time has gone!

  • Iljas Baker says:

    Personally, I think he should carve out a niche for himself elsewhere. And I hope he will.

  • Damian says:

    I’d guess no. Clearly not good enough. Lightweight, poor decision-making, with loads and loads of (indeed, far too many) appearances to gather evidence for this trend. Best of luck to him elsewhere.

    • Damian says:

      Is this not also a bit of an overreaction to a Daily Record article about him scoring two goals in a game against lower league opponents? I’d never thought him incapable of that.

  • Johnny Green says:

    It is too early to judge Mikey’s progress or lack of it in Portugal, but if Ange had rated him, he would still be in Glasgow. He is surplus to requirements, and I wish him well.

  • Magdalena’s Chestnut Gelding says:

    Subutteo player scores against Subutteo team.

    Hardly kicked a ball for first team in games that matter in Portugal.

    Not for me. He’s had way too many chances and that miss against Sevco was appalling. His decision making is absurd at the best of times.

    He is due some slack for Brendan hanging him out to dry at Ibrox in his ego war with the board and the man who failed in his fiduciary duties at the helm of our club. That was disgraceful what happened and certainly had a catastrophic effect on his confidence.

    I hope he finds success somewhere, but it will never be at Celtic.

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