I liked Callum’s comments today when he was asked about his place in the team and how he viewed the challenge provided by our new boy Tomoki Iwata. He refused to take the bait that the media was dangling in front of him, and said all the right things.
“That competitive nature comes out in the players (when you have a big squad). Obviously, if you’ve got the jersey and you’re playing well, you’ll keep it, and the players who come in are designed to test you and help you as a group. (That’s) always good, it keeps you sharp and hungry. We’ve got to use the players that we have to improve collectively and individually.”
Callum, like almost all other the other players in this team, recognises that competition is good for the team and for each individual. In the end, he knows he doesn’t have to worry.
He will have a place in the Celtic side week in week out for as long as he wants one. He is the best midfielder in the country by miles. The only question is about where he plays.
Because as we’ve discussed previously, Iwata plays mainly in the defensive midfield role and that’s where Callum is currently stationed. I think that most of us would welcome Callum moving back into a more advanced position … but who does that threaten?
Well, it threatens Matt O’Riley at the moment.
And Matt O’Riley has been somewhat off the boil of late and I think he needs a jolt to get him back on form again.
He hasn’t scored a goal this season; I was surprised to hear that then I was asked if I remembered something the stats didn’t know. Which of course I don’t. For an attacking midfielder, that’s poor.
Now, it has to be said that Matt has eight assists – which is brilliant – and played quite a number of games in the defensive midfield role when Callum was injured. Still, no goals … that’s not great.
He got four last season after he arrived in December.
Matt’s thing doesn’t seem to be scoring goals.
Which is why I think we might be better with Callum in that slot at the moment; Callum does get up the park and score, even when he’s played in that more withdrawn role, as his peach against Aberdeen showed.
Twice in the last few years he’s hit double figures from midfield, over all competitions. He’s easily capable of doing that as part of this side and I’d bet on him doing so. So as far as Iwata goes, Callum will not be the guy who falls out of the team.
But Matt O’Riley needs to up his game, or he’ll be looking over his shoulder.