Celtic may have signed James McCarthy in the summer because ‘on paper’, he had the ‘experience’ and ‘cultural affinity’ to replace Scott Brown.
That’s according to The Athletic‘s Kieran Devlin.
McCarthy joined Celtic in August following the expiry of his Crystal Palace contract and penned a four-year deal upon his arrival at Parkhead (via BBC Sport). He reportedly pockets £14,000 per week, which means this could prove to be a £2.9million commitment from now until 2025.
The Republic of Ireland international had been part of the Hoops’ youth setup before he moved to Hamilton Academical in 2005 (via Transfermarkt).
However, as we enter November, the 30-year-old has played only 286 minutes of football this season and is yet to complete a full match. Worryingly, Devlin has previously written that, as per dressing room sources, McCarthy has struggled with the pace and intensity of Ange Postecoglou’s training sessions.
In The Athletic‘s matchday discussion around the Livingston game, one supporter suggested that giving McCarthy a four-year deal ‘always seemed bizarre’. In reply, Devlin tried to justify the signing from the club’s point of view, claiming that the transfer was an attempt to fill the intangible void left by Brown’s move to Aberdeen.
“Playing devil’s advocate,” he wrote, “I believe the board’s thinking on McCarthy is that on paper he offered the experience and cultural affinity to replace the leadership/Celtic connection gap left by Brown’s farewell, even if it hasn’t panned out like that so far.”
He then went on to argue that the transfer has exposed the failings of Celtic’s recruitment process, saying: “This is where having executives make crucial football operations decisions is a potential issue, rather than someone with expertise and experience in that role like a sporting director or head of recruitment, who can step in and say ‘is this a rational sporting decision’?”
McCarthy does have his backers, with Frank McAvennie insisting that he has looked ‘very good’ whenever he’s played. However, it’s not so much a question of ability as availability, and clearly his fitness levels aren’t up to scratch given how little he has played, as well as the rumours of him struggling with Postecoglou’s methods behind the scenes at Lennoxtown.
Right now, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Celtic have made a careless mistake in handing him a lengthy deal. Hopefully he can prove the doubters wrong in the months and years ahead.
In other news, one of Postecoglou’s January wishes has been revealed
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