THERE was a moment in the second half of Celtic’s draw against Blackburn Rovers that had all the home support on their feet, as Jota’s magic lit up Celtic Park and reminded everyone why the fans were so excited when he was finally confirmed on a permanent contract at the beginning of the summer.
As Rovers full-back Hayden Carter arrived to challenge the winger, he picked the ball up high in the air from a standing position, leaving his opponent for dead, before nonchalantly killing the ball and walking away.
It wasn’t a significant moment in the match, but it may be talked about long after his impressive goal on the half-volley here fades from memory.
“I think everyone enjoyed it,” said teammate Matt O’Riley. “I spoke to him after the game and he said it was the first time he tried that skill in a game. Sometimes in the game you are relaxed and you try it.
“He’s not mean, is he?” It’s still early days, so hopefully he can continue to raise his level. He’s a great guy, that’s the most important thing. He’s a lovely guy off the pitch but on the pitch he’s good to watch and we love watching him.
“The more quality we have, the better. We trust our wingers to try to produce something. I thought Liel (Abada) was really good and beat left-back every time he got it. They are different players but bring a lot to the team.
Jota’s all-around performance here will have Celtic fans purring, as Benfica’s £6.4million snap seemed to be kicking into high gear, and his manager Ange Postecoglou also seemed buoyed by what could come from the club. one of the biggest in the club. signatures.
“There is no cap to his potential,” Postecoglou said.
“He was good. He probably struggled during the week. They work very hard, not every player feels 100% for the games and he is one of them. Especially the attacking players, they rely on their freshness, their athleticism and their speed.
“At the moment they become a bit of a blunt object until we go through that period.
“He was good today. I know people said we re-signed two players, but we signed two better players than last year. That’s why we brought them in. there’s no reason why he shouldn’t go further.” Last year was probably the first season he had settled somewhere. You get the feeling he felt really good at club football in that group and it was his first real year to make an impact.
“Our job is to make sure we take him to the next level and give him that chance. He’s focused and I’m sure he will.
Postecoglou was pleased with his team’s overall performance in the first half, although he felt the game was drifting after the interval after a series of substitutions, as such games tend at this stage of the pre-season. -season.
However, he isn’t too bothered by a bit of sloppiness in his side’s play which again led to a few easy goals being conceded.
“It was decent,” he said. “I thought the first half was a really good game.
“We conceded early but we played some good stuff, the pace was good, there was a competitive advantage, so I was really happy with how we did.
“In the second half, so many changes disrupt things and it’s difficult to have a rhythm. In the second half, we probably didn’t enjoy it as much as we would have liked, but there was a balance between minutes and fluidity in the game.
Meanwhile, Postecoglou believe the few arrivals expected this week will leave his side well-positioned for the ravages of the long season ahead.
There will of course be a few players leaving, but he expects his pool to be as big as last season, but much deeper in terms of quality.
“We had quite a busy schedule last year,” he said.
“The reality is that we will play almost 60 games. The Champions League on a weekly basis will add stress to the squad, so I’m keen to bring in a few more, to make sure we’re strong and robust. “Last year it affected our ability to perform at a very high level. I don’t think it will be a bigger team, just more robust with quality.