Driven Matt O'Riley goes into detail about where he needs to improve at Celtic in wake of World Cup disappointment
The 21-year-old was close to receiving a call-up for the tournament in Qatar after impressive performances in the Champions League, including a man-of-the-match display against Real Madrid at Celtic Park.
His hopes were dashed when he was omitted from the Danes' 26-man pool, but he insists that has only made him more determined to make his senior breakthrough having already earned four caps for the Under-21s.
"Definitely," was O'Riley's response when asked if watching the World Cup had whetted his appetite for international football. "Initially, it was disappointing [not being there]. After that it was supporting Denmark. I obviously watched the final and it was probably one of the best games I have ever watched. There’s a lot I need to improve upon and work on first to continue to, hopefully, raise my levels in each game. I need to start affecting the game more in the opposition box. I think I am creating enough chances, but to help the team, I should be scoring more and I hope that starts happening soon."
O'Riley is now back playing in a more advanced role after deputising for midfield anchor Callum McGregor in a deeper position during the Celtic captain's recent injury lay-off. “For me myself, my game needs to improve consistently every day,” continued the 22-year-old. “Through my whole game. Not just goals and assists. Everything I do. Playing a bit deeper for a while has probably helped me do that in some aspects. When I first came, defensively, I was probably average to poor. Now I say I’m pretty decent in terms of the press and defensively, so it’s just about improving constantly with things all the time.”
Asked if he is his own biggest critic, O'Riley added: "I think so. I think most players that want to improve would probably be their own biggest critics. Otherwise, you won’t improve. So I’d say so. I’ll reflect on games to see what I could have done better. Against Livingston, I definitely could have been better, but I think in general we could have been as a team a bit more fluid and more connected.”
O’Riley revealed there was frustration in the Celtic ranks after the 2-1 midweek win over Livingston that left manager Ange Postecoglou to question the application of his players in their pursuit of more goals. Improvement will be sought against St Johnstone on Christmas Eve.
“We didn’t make things easy for ourselves [against Livingston]," O’Riley reflected. “The goal we lost was really poor for a number of reasons and we probably weren’t clinical enough again with our chances which is kind of a recurring theme, especially earlier this season in the Champions League. That’s probably the reason we got knocked out.
“The mood was not actually great in the changing room. I know we won the game, but it wasn’t our usual standards. It will [cost us one day]. It’s something we need to improve upon. There have been games when we have scored five and six goals and in a game like the Livingston one, in my opinion, we should have been doing the same. But we didn’t, for whatever reason. I don’t know whether that is lack of commitment to our structure, maybe lack of composure, I’m not sure. But it’s something we need to sort.”
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