Carl Starfelt defends team-mate amidst criticism and reveals why it is 'not very easy at a club like Celtic'
The Swedish centre-back is empathetic to the Japanese star’s situation where he has been questioned for some of his performances in the green and white hoops. Starfelt was written off early into his Celtic career but has since become a key player for Ange Postecoglou, while forming a formidable relationship with Cameron Carter-Vickers.
With the American out injured, Starfelt has become the leader at the back, playing alongside both Kobayashi and countryman Tomoki Iwata in recent weeks. The former played in the 3-0 ad 4-2 defeats to Rangers and Hibs respectively.
"I think he is really tidy on the ball and he is a good defender as well,” Starfelt said. “It is not fair to only judge someone based on three games where the team haven’t been playing good. You can’t look only at these three games and judge someone because then all of the 11 players on the pitch would be bad players. It is not as easy as that. Also, the games he has played before he has shown himself to be really good on the ball and a good defender as well. I have to keep on building a relationship with him because he has good qualities that hopefully he will show more of in the future.”
‘Sounds now as if our season has been s—t’
The 27-year-old explained the situation at the Scottish champions where the pressure and judgement “can be a lot" with winning so ingrained at the club, while snap judgements are expected. A key factor in the Celtic dressing room is to ignore the external noise and concentrate on the opinions that matter, those in the dressing room and those of manager Ange Postecoglou and his coaching staff.
"Yeah, I think all the players need to have a little bit of that mindset,” Starfelt said. “We touch on that within the group, to keep everything within the group and not be disturbed by noise…what fans think or what the media think, or says. To really listen to each other in here, listen to the manager and the other players, and maybe your family and people who really care about you. Other than that, you don’t need to listen to anyone. All the players in the team know their potential as footballers.
“It is obviously not very easy at a club like Celtic; it can be a lot. But the thing is if you manage to do it you can get better from it as well. Become psychologically stronger through staying strong in adversity, in these situations. But it almost sounds now as if our season has been s--t.”
Starfelt will start the Scottish Cup final against Inverness CT on Saturday, although it is unclear whether he will be partnered by Iwata or Kobayashi. Either way, he understands the role he will play.
“I am trying to help in the best way I can,” he said. “I’m sure everyone on the pitch is doing the same. I will of course try to speak to him and help him, as I will do with all the other players.”
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