I had to laugh last night at Kenny Miller banging on about Liel Abada.
It’s possibly an attempt to make mischief, a fundamental misunderstanding of the strength of our squad or pig ignorance from a guy who clearly does not listen to what our manager says.
He thinks Abada should start every game. Great. He’s entitled to that view and to express his surprise. But it makes him sound thick, because the manager has explained this again and again. Nobody at Celtic should be guaranteed a start. Every player is under threat. It keeps the standards high. It keeps players from getting complacent.
I do find it amusing that Miller is singing the praises of Abada. Perhaps he’d care to dig down into the stats for minutes per goals and minutes per assists, where even from his limited time on the pitch our Israeli winger is outpacing a certain Ibrox winger whose contract is approaching its expiry date. Miller doesn’t want to go there though. No-one does.
Ange has spelled this out a hundred times, and in spite of that there are still people pushing this line that he has a job on his hands keeping players happy, that players won’t buy into a rotation system, that this isn’t how things are done. But increasingly and all across football it is, in fact, exactly how things are done and Ange knows this full well.
The reason this squad is so far ahead of the rest is that each player gets guaranteed game-time but not a guaranteed 90 minutes. The new substitutes rule has definitely worked for us, and quite brilliantly, in allowing such a range of rotation options.
Abada would be effective if he started more games. But Abada has played plenty this season and his contribution has been invaluable. The player is entitled to be proud of the progress he has made at Celtic Park and will continue to make under this manager.
When he’s on his game – and he was bang on it at the weekend – he is virtually unplayable.
But as Ange has made clear we’re also talking here about a good soldier, a model pro, someone who puts the team first … a priceless asset in any squad and we have a squad full of them.