Fridjonsson: No pressure after big-money failures

Holmbert Fridjonsson will be eligible to play for Celtic in the new year. Picture: SNS
Holmbert Fridjonsson will be eligible to play for Celtic in the new year. Picture: SNS
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Celtic’s supporters have despaired over the failings of expensive recruits such as Mo Bangura (cost: £2.2 million, 16 appearances, 0 goals), Derk Boerrigter (cost: £3m, 14-1), Teemo Pukki (cost: £2.5m, 18-3) and Amido Balde (cost: £2m, 12-2) in recent seasons.

To that list can be added the unspectacular, but costly, contribution made by Lassad Nouioui (Bosman, 19-3), the Tunisia striker released in August with 12 months of a two-year contract remaining and Miku (14-2), the Venezuelan taken on a season-long loan from Getafe.

Of course, it would be unrealistic to expect every signing at Parkhead to provide the same bang for buck on the level of Victor Wanyama or Ki Sung Yeung, but perhaps it is no coincidence those players, who were sold on at a combined profit of £15.5m, are not forwards.

With the notable exception of Gary Hooper, who signed from Scunthorpe United in 2010 for £2.4m in July, 2010 and was sold to Norwich City for £5m three years later after scoring 82 goals in 138 games, Celtic have struck out with strikers.

That, though, has not dented the confidence of their most recent acquisition, Iceland Under-21 star Holmbert Fridjonsson.

Manager Neil Lennon has stressed that he does not view Fridjonsson, who stands at 6’ 3”, as one for the future.

He expects the 20-year-old to push for a starting place immediately and the player, who arrived in Glasgow from Fram Reykjavic last month, believes that it is in his favour he did not cost as much as some of the other frontmen who will be cluttering up the stand in the weeks to come.

Fram received just £100,000 for his services and he believes that, consequently, he will not be under the same scrutiny or pressure as his predecessors.

“Hopefully, it will help that I didn’t come with a big transfer fee and there isn’t as much expectation,” Fridjonsson said.

“The other forwards are good players and some of them have been unlucky. It takes time to settle into a new club and you don’t get to see the best of them right away.”

Celtic concluded a pre-contract deal for Fridjonsson, whose four-year agreement kicks in on 1 January. Partick Thistle visit the east end of the city for the derby fixture on that day and Celtic, in an act of festive philanthropy in no way connected with disappointing ticket sales, will allow season book holders to claim two additional free briefs for friends or relatives for that encounter. It will be the first game in which he is eligible to feature and Fridjonsson is buckling down at Lennoxtown (after a break in Tenerife to recharge his batteries following the end of Fram’s season) and hoping to start the new year with a bang.

“I just have to train hard and deliver on the pitch,” he said. “I believe in myself and hopefully I can show it after January starts.

“The football here is of a good standard. I saw the Motherwell game when we won 5-0: it was a really great game, a lot of good football and good goals.

“It looks like an exciting team for a striker, a lot of crosses and balls going into the box so, hopefully, that will be good for me. I am training every day and some times twice a day. I haven’t played for a few months but I have been training hard.

“Obviously, it will take a little while to find my match fitness but I am hoping I will be ready to hit the ground running in January.

“My aim is to get into the first team and it might take time, but we will see what happens.”

For Fridjonsson to prevail at Parkhead, he will first have to overcome the stage fright which threatened to consume him when he was introduced to the crowd (reportedly 46,065) at half-time during Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Hibernian.

“In Iceland I played in the Pepsi League, where there are 1500 fans at games so it’s a big difference here,” he explained.

“But that will be exciting. Last Saturday, I was introduced to the crowd at the game and I was pretty nervous talking in front of the fans, but I managed to get through it.

“As a striker I am paid to score goals. I have personal targets but I would prefer to keep them to myself: I don’t want to tell everyone.

“I am good in the air and I hold the ball up well. I can give the team a target to push forward and I am also very good in and around the box. I will create goals for the team but, hopefully, I will score more.”

Fridjonsson has been made to feel welcome by his new team-mates, particularly Israeli midfielder Nir Biton, who drives him to training (“he’s a young guy and he’s new to the club and trying to settle, just like me”).

Even so, he admits that he is still coming to terms with the culture shock of life in the SPFL Premiership, not least the fact that his income now depends on the outcome of matches.

“It is a lot different to Iceland,” he said. “It will take time because there is a huge difference in playing for a club like Celtic. In Iceland I wasn’t a professional but now I am and I will need to adjust.”

• Season-ticket holders can claim their additional briefs through