Celtic praise for James McCarthy and Callum McGregor 'massive' influence: Ange Postecoglou

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou praised the “massive” role Callum McGregor plays on and off the pitch after the club captain claimed the winner in the 2-1 victory over Aberdeen.

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou (left) celebrates Jota's goal with his coaching staff during a Cinch premiership match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park, on November 28, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

And the Australian suggested that, even without a first league goal of the season for the 28-year-old, his ceaseless industry and cajoling - “he is a man of action and words”, said the 56-year-old - would have made him the most crucial contributor for the home team across a testing afternoon.

“Today I thought he really drove the lads, just with the energy,” said the Celtic manager. “That’s what we spoke about before the game, that’s what I emphasised. It’s easy for me to say it, but somebody has to go out there and lead from the front. I don’t know where he gets it from but he’s got bags of energy and when you see him running around you can’t help but be inspired that the rest of the guys will go out and do the same thing. He leads by example and he’s a man of action and words and I thought he was outstanding today.”

Sign up to our Football newsletter

Sign up to our Football newsletter

McGregor wasn’t the only key component for Celtic in their middle third. A first 90 minutes for James McCarthy since the former Crystal Palace performer’s summer move to his boyhood club marked the most effective outing for a 30-year-old who has struggled to impose himself, not helped by contracting Covid-19 and requiring to shake off a couple of niggly injuries. Postecoglou, who turned to McCarthy with Nir Bitton missing through a knock suffered in the 3-2 defeat away to Bayer Leverkusen on Thursday, is hopeful that the Republic of Ireland international’s fourth start can assist in his pursuit of game sharpness.

Celtic's Callum McGregor makes it 2-1 during a Cinch premiership match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park, on November 28, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

“It’s a matter of games and opportunity and we’ve not had the opportunity to give him that game time,” the Celtic manager said. “He will feel better after today. We are going to need him, we’re going to need all the lads because we’ve still got ten games to go between now and the break, including a cup final. Every game is important. It’s not like you can just chop and change here and there so we are going to need everyone on board.

“There is no way we are going to run through with 11 players. But at the same time there were only two changes today and nine of the lads had to back up. We looked at them at the end and they were still closing down and still pressing, still trying to get another goal. I just think those are good signs for us going forward.”

Two inadvertent ricochets helped Celtic over the line against an Aberdeen they gave encouragement to with the concession of a clumsy penalty by Liel Abada. Yet, Postecoglou was dismissive of his team having luck on their side in the victory.

“I don’t know about luck. If you put yourself in those situations often enough, then y’know...A couple were cleared off the line, we hit the post. Is that unlucky? I don’t know. At the end I think it was deserved. I don’t think we were just grinding today. We were still bright in areas.”

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou at full time during a Cinch premiership match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park, on November 28, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

Get a year of unlimited access to all The Scotsman's sport coverage without the need for a full subscription. Expert analysis of the biggest games, exclusive interviews, live blogs, transfer news and 70 per cent fewer ads on Scotsman.com - all for less than £1 a week. Subscribe to us today

Celtic's Callum McGregor under pressure from Aberdeen's Scott Brown (right). (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.