Rodgers’ Warning To Mikey Johnston Might Be The Last He Gets As A Celtic Player.

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Anyone whose place of work has been at the centre of a takeover, whether hostile or otherwise, knows that there is no more important a moment to look indispensable.

It is literally the time to shine, or take the chance that you’ll find yourself swept up in the inevitable changes to come. It is not a nice place to be. But in football, it is the norm.

Those sorts of takeovers happen all the time; every time, in fact, that a club changes its manager. And for some players that means a fresh start. For others, it means a cold and unsentimental eye falling on what you’ve been doing and how you’ve been performing.

Every manager has his own ideas. Every manager has a certain way he wants to play, and even really good players can find, when a new boss takes over, that they just don’t fit the system or the style and that they have to pursue their careers elsewhere.

Ange Postecoglou liked Mikey Johnston.

He supported him. He allowed him to go out on loan but would have found a place for him when he returned, provided he returned a better and more complete footballer.

Brendan Rodgers has his own ideas. He has not been in the job long enough to swing the axe, but the swing is coming. He has said so.

Last night, after the game, he had a few choice words for Mikey Johnston. He reminded him that he’s no longer a kid, no longer a player with “potential”, no longer one of those footballers with the luxury of being able to say “well, I’m just finding my feet.”

Mikey is now an experienced player, in his 20’s, who has been on the fringes of the Celtic squad for years. If he was going to be a first team regular, there’s a good argument for saying that he’d be one already and his position wouldn’t be up for debate.

But Mikey has drifted in and out of the team, and has now been relegated to one of those footballers who should be locked inside a “break glass in case of emergency” vault. In short, he seems to be no closer to that permanent place in the squad than he was when he first broke into the ranks all those years ago, and with so much promise and hype.

Part of the reason for Mikey Johnston’s longevity is, I think, our sentimental attachment to players who come through the academy. We all want these guys to make it.

We all want them to progress and be great, and permanent, fixtures in the side. This is why there is so much lamenting the loss of players like Doak, and why the situation with Rocco Vata generates so much heat; I am never happier than when a promising kid is shining in our squad.

We all want to see someone make the breakthrough. We all wanted Mikey Johnston to be one of those guys, like a Tierney, a Forrest, a McGregor. Yet over the time the grim realisation has set in; we can’t keep this guy around just because we once had high hopes for him. At some point, you have to either see what you’re hoping for or realise you never will.

Brendan has told a lot of players that they have to step it up. Mikey Johnston is not alone in this. At the start of the season, he was telling Reo Hatate something similar; the difference is, Hatate has proved that he’s good enough to be in that side, and he had proved that before Rodgers arrived. He was never not going to be a recognised first team footballer.

Johnston seems miles from it, and he’s at a point in his career where he really can’t afford to be at a club where he’s that distance from a first team place.

He spoke recently about recognising that it was up to him to prove himself; saying it and doing it are two different things entirely, and you just feel that the chance is slipping out of his reach.

At this point he needs to seize every chance.

Every single moment.

He did so at the weekend but he couldn’t have a key influence last night; in some ways that’s the story of his life at Celtic, which is why we’re in this place. Inconsistency. Inconsistency and injury. It’s possible to feel really sorry for this guy but at the same time to recognise that it’s the best thing for all involved to make a decision, and more and more it seems that the decision will be to part ways.

He will have a good career somewhere. No question.

It’s just no longer likely that it will be at Celtic Park, and we can mourn that whilst also knowing it’s probably for the best.

Another Celtic boss has told him to step it up.

It feels like it’ll be for the last time.

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  • Paul Mac says:

    “Part of the reason for Mikey Johnston’s longevity is, I think, our sentimental attachment to players who come through the academy. We all want these guys to make it.”

    This and the UEFA regulations are why the likes of your namesake was given an extended deal, why Welsh, Bain got new deals. Why Turnbull will probably be offered one .. why the likes of Shankland is being tipped … The minimum of 8 trained in Scotland with 4 at least having to be trained at Celtic, which begs the question about Bosun who was sent to Fleetwood with 1 yr remaining for him to be at least Nation trained .. now obviously that is not the case so you can´t see much of a future for him , which may be a shame especially the way he played vs Gnonto (Leeds player) in the U21 Ireland v Italy match the other day.
    We need to either bring through players or “pad” the squad with Scottish trained players if we want to make the 25 limit otherwise we do what the Govan mob did and only register 22 because they had not enough Scottish or Club trained players .. although of course there is an unlimited amount of “B” list players. So this begs the question would it be better to pull out of the Lowland league especially given there is no chance of promotion and play friendly matches vs other U21 teams (Uk or European) .. is the coaching that they receive the best that we can provide or is it that they are “Good Cellic Men” but maybe not that great coaches? Lets face it there should be at least ONE player coming through the ranks each year .. if that is not the case .. Why not ??

  • JapanCelt says:

    “Part of the reason for Mikey Johnston’s longevity is, I think, our sentimental attachment to players who come through the academy. We all want these guys to make it.”
    James, every top-level football club in every league in Europe has the same feeling about their own *clearly unsuitable, failed prospect players, regardless of whether they came through the ranks in their Academy*… However, we, as supporters, are only interested in players who are really going to make a regular contribution to our benefit either in the starting 11 or from the substitute’s bench….
    Mikey Johnston has been greedy, wasteful, a ‘never-likely-to-progress’ player for so very, very long – yet you seem to have a bizarre fixation about him, & the ridiculous notion of him *ever* getting a starting spot.
    It’s been 7 very, l-o-n-g, years and the guy hasn’t changed his style of playing one iota; still extremely greedy w/ the ball; wasteful beyond belief; and completely kaput of a role where Celtic’s first team is concerned.
    In short, he *must be sold* in January so we can use his salary along w/ a number of other “wage-thieves” hangin’ about Lennoxtown like a reminder for anyone w/ half a football brain that the %-age of ‘Project players’ who come good & transition into a 1st team regular is ridiculously small. [Maybe one or two, at best every two transfer windows].
    You could save yoursel so much time & effort, & us regular readers, almost weekly articles about a complete waste of a jersey… How’s about focussing your attention on writing articles that highlight slightly more expensive players – not out of our financial reach – with a good few seasons under their belt spent getting regular starts in their respective 1st team – whether they ply their trade in Scotland, Scandinavia, Holland, Portugal, etc.?
    One quality addition for every 3 cheap, ‘project’ players we can manage to get off our wage bill and out the door, is what this current 1st team squad is desperately in dire need of… arriving, *ready-to-play*, @ Lennoxtown.
    No more punts on Asian players who’ll then either be off to the Asian Cup leaving us seriously short for back-ups should, heaven forbid, one of our guaranteed 1st team stick-on players suffer an injury whilst we are 3/4 men down -or- are just a complete waste of a salary that, as I’ve mentioned above, should be put together to aid paying the fee & salary of an experienced player who supporters won’t be left guessing as to where the hell they are as they haven’t even made the bench since signing.
    Brendan really needs backed in this transfer window, free from outside interference, to make his own choices on who he thinks would definitely benefit the squad. That is, after all, his job as manager.

  • Johnny Green says:

    As soon as Maeda and Abada return Mikey will go further down the queue, he is on his way out and there is no way back for him. I wish him well.

  • Eldraco says:

    Not a team player.

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