After a 5-0 win against Ross County at the weekend with a clean sheet you’d think Celtic players might be quite satisfied. But that’s not what makes winners nor bring trophies to the club.
Before that match a key man was under the spotlight with media comments criticising his performances so far. That’s not ideal for confidence building, but it seems as though Celtic’s new goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas is not easily put off and remains very focussed despite a couple of pundits asking questions.
Barkas was many fans private choice as man of the match for a string of goal stopping saves against Ross County. That’s odd to say given the score line but it does give a great boost to the keeper.
The Daily Record reports on Barkas talking about the challenges he faces in settling into Scottish football and being Celtic’s last man. He’s certainly got a very positive attitude and sounds very driven to succeed, which bodes very well for the hoops.
He acknowledges the newness of some players, the different formation and the fact that it will take a bit of time to build close playing relationships and get to know each other’s game:
“We’re going to become better the more we find ourselves on the field and get used to each other.
“We need to have some time because we are 11 different people who started.
“Maybe some of the other players who were involved have played together in the past but not all of us at the same time.”
But he is impressed by the Celtic squad quality and the hard work put in to be successful:
“All of my team-mates are very good players and I am very happy for this because when you go into a big club, you like to see big players with big talent.
“At the same time, they all work so hard in training each day and you can then see that in the games. We are waiting to have a lot of wins and to take the championship again.”
That’s definitely promising too. The expectation of consistently winning can often be a huge pressure for new players, something many aren’t used to.
The critics in the media could easily have an impact on a new player, in a new league, in a new country and so on. But maybe someone took Barkas aside and explained that what Kris Commons or Andy Walker think shouldn’t matter to him at all. He might have been confused when he realised both were ex Celts, but it’s sadly what they do now.
Barkas himself recognises the change he has made means lots more to learn but doesn’t seem at all overwhelmed by the task. Saturday’s win and his performance will certainly help. As will more familiarity across the defence and getting used to formation variations:
“It was not so easy for me because I was coming from another country and the football here is different.
“Game by game, I feel that it gets better but I’m sure I need more time to see what Scottish football wants from me.
“I tried to find what the coach and my team-mates want from me and with every game I start to feel better and better.”
Barkas talked about the way the players are already working on improving further and communicating well with each other to ensure there is progress. We’ve already identified what we can learn from Saturday’s win. Barkas is pretty confident the best is yet to come as the players build relationships and work together:
“For sure, after matches, we can talk about how we can make this part of the game better. That’s why I say game by game, we will become better.”
We hope you are right, Vasilis. We sure hope so.