The Celtic Boss Has His Say On Mikey Johnston, But Other Players Should Be Warned.

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Mikey Johnston is certainly setting the heather on fire down south. He is the talk of the league down there, and more and more people are asking the same question; what in God’s name were Celtic thinking in letting a player like this go?

Up here, more and more Celtic fans are asking the same question.

But the man who knows best certainly recognises the up and downsides of that question; Brendan Rodgers understands the Mikey Johnston argument. He has long said that he believes that Mikey is a phenomenally talented footballer. He has given him ample opportunity to prove it. But he knows too that something stops Mikey from realising his talents at Celtic.

Rodgers thinks he knows what that something is, and it’s something we’ve identified too; what he calls the “weight” of the Celtic jersey. He is not the only member of our squad who, this season, has struggled under that burden. But he is the one who has been here longest and has more and more come to look as if it’s just too much to carry.

We’ve heard Rodgers say many times that there are people at Celtic at the moment who have still to develop a clear and full understanding of what the expectations at a club our size is like. Johnston is perhaps the person best qualified to speak on that.

There is no doubt that he has immense talent, we’ve all known that for years, but it’s a mentality thing when you are playing for a club this size and as Brendan has pointed out, and as our summer signings have proved, you don’t get a sense of that from reviewing data or from watching how they play in the comfort zone at a club with none of that.

He says he will sit down with Mikey and talk to him when he gets back, and ask him where he thinks his future lies. That would be an interesting conversation to eavesdrop on.

Because although he’s proving what a player he is at West Brom I am not convinced that Rodgers believe he can replicate it in a Celtic shirt. That shirt is not going to get any easier to wear, and if the manager has a major rebuild in mind – which he almost certainly does – it is really difficult to see where Mikey Johnston might fit in to it.

It is interesting that Rodgers has identified the issue with Mikey, it’s interesting as much as it what it reveals about other players as well. He clearly believes that others in the squad have the same problem, and if he can’t find a place for a home-grown talent like Johnston, with all the qualities he possesses, some of these others have no future at Celtic at all.

This is summer is really going to be interesting. And long. And stressful.

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  • Jamie Struthers says:

    I still think the major difference is he gets room to run with the ball down south. Up here he has 11 defenders in front of him so his pace is worthless. Down there every team attacks each other so he gets room and time to get his head up.

  • Michael McCartney says:

    It’s sad to see a player with Johnston’s ability and who came through our academy being successful elsewhere, but struggling to perform in a Celtic jersey.
    He seemed to be unlucky with injuries in his early career and was also the focus of personal criticism from the ultra critics in the Celtic support when having a bad game, whilst not getting much praise when playing well.
    I come from a generation of supporter who gave young players a bit of time to settle into the team. I’m not saying there was no criticism aimed at players, but most young players got a reasonable amount of time to find their feet in the team, before getting criticised harshly
    I accept it is a different age in football, more’s the pity, but quite a few of the Lisbon Lions would have been written off nowadays by these critics, before they matured and became European Champions.
    I would be surprised if we ever see Mikey in a Celtic jersey again and maybe the two excellent goals he scored against Dundee on Boxing day was a good way to end his Celtic career, I for one wish him well for the rest of his career at Celtic or elsewhere.

    • Dan O neill says:

      Henrik Larsons first couple of games were woeful and what a gem he turned out to be ,too many supporters criticising team when they are playing below par they should be encouraging them to up their game not boo them

  • Dennis Begley says:

    I sometimes think I was the only celtic supporter who.limed Mikey Johnston and my mates wojld slag me about it,he didn’t set the heather on fire but he was a player and I think back to the game we played under Lenny when he indicated he was ok to play on and then minutes later had to come off and was out for a while. he struggled to win the fans over and the worlds self proclaimed best fans in the world turned on him big time,I hope he keeps turning it on down there and we at least get a decent fee for him and then he owes us nothing, he’s a better player than many players we have signed recently.

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    It’s incredible how Mikey Johnston has set a pure fantastic League like The Championship on fire so it is…

    Yet he cannot seem to cut it in a League that is The Laughing stock of world football…

    Aye – Football is a funny old game right enough as they say !

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