Ask the Opposition

Ask the Opposition 38: Celtic

Manchester City will aim to maintain their 100% record under Pep Guardiola when they face Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic in the Champions League on Wednesday night. Celtic had an opening game to forget as Barcelona put seven past them at the Camp Nou, while City romped to a convincing 4-0 win over Borussia Monchengladbach at The Etihad. Despite the obvious gap in quality between the two sides, Celtic have a history of causing big upsets at Celtic Park, and so City should be wary of complacency.

I spoke to Matt McGlone, editor of the Celtic magazine ‘Alternative View’, about his thoughts towards Wednesday’s game, and his overall feelings regarding Celtic’s start to the season.

Hi Matt, thanks for taking the time to speak to us. First of all, what did you make of Brendan Rodgers’ appointment, and are you happy with how things are going so far?

I’m pretty happy with the start. Ronny Deila did reasonably well but we had to go up a notch. We were quite fortunate to get someone of Brendan’s character and ability, someone who is regarded as a Premier League quality manager. He has done well so far, and has installed a discipline amongst the players, based on their respect for him. I think he will do quite well for us, as long as he is backed by the board in the transfer market.

Whilst the loss against Lincoln Red Imps in the Champions League qualifying was disappointing, Celtic had to play six European matches before the season had even started, something which Rodgers admitted he had never encountered before.

In terms of the Celtic playing staff, is there an area of the squad which you believe to be particularly strong or weak?

We were a bit weak up front, but with the additions of Moussa Dembélé, Patrick Roberts and Scott Sinclair, that seems to have been sorted.

I think the goalkeeper position is the problem area at Celtic. Brendan brought in Dorus de Vries from Nottingham Forest, and he hasn’t done well at all here. He was taken off at half-time against Kilmarnock after conceding a goal from 37 yards. The problem with goalkeepers at Celtic is rooted in the fact that they don’t tend to see a lot of action, and so struggle with their concentration.

What are your thoughts on Patrick Roberts? Do you believe that the City loanee has what it takes to ‘make it’ in Manchester?

Well, he doesn’t get a regular game at Celtic and is a substitute more often than he is named in the starting XI. He looked tricky when he first came in, but he seems to struggle with the physicality of the league. While he is very good at dribbling, his end product leaves a lot to be desired. Right now he wouldn’t even get on Manchester City’s bench.

There is definitely potential there, but he is going to have to up his game if he wants to succeed at City.

Onto the Champions League now – What were your initial thoughts when the draw was made?

It really is the group of death for us. The two teams which I think could win the competition overall are Barcelona and Manchester City, and we’ve got both of them! I think if Celtic fans are realistic, we can snatch third place at the very best, and have a go in the Europa League.

We’ve had Barcelona a few times in recent years, but we were seeded in ‘Pot 4’ of the Champions League, and beggars can’t be choosers. It is nice to see these great players at Celtic Park, but with Barcelona, you’re more or less writing off six points.

I’m quite pleased that we are playing against City, as I can’t recall a time when the two sides have met in European competition. The games against Borussia Monchengladbach will good, and are probably our best chance of nicking something.

You can’t help but be envious of Leicester City’s group, as that would be a group where we may have stood a chance of progressing further than the group stages. Who’s going to come out of a group above Man City and Barca?

What are your perceptions of Manchester City as a club, both past and present?

As far as I know, Manchester is home to more Manchester City fans than Manchester United fans, whose supporters tend to come from all over the place.

You guys were always the ‘traditional’ Manchester team for me, where as Manchester United were much more concerned with their fame than their supporters. I remember some great City team’s of the past, involving players like Mike Summerbee and Colin Bell. Of course, City were then taken over, but as long as the new owners are respectful of the club’s traditions, I have no problem with it.

Finally, please could we have your Celtic team prediction, and your prediction for the final score?

Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Toure, Svatchenko, Tierney; Sinclair, Brown, Rogic, Biton; Dembélé.

Leigh Griffiths has been out for a month and only returned on Saturday, so that’s why I think Dembélé will start up front.

I don’t think Patrick Roberts will start, and I don’t think he has it in him right now to come back to haunt City.

The score? Crikey. Realistically, hopefully it’s no worse than 2-0 to Manchester City, maybe 2-1.

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