Celtic have come back fighting this season after a campaign in 2020/21 that was plagued with issues at Parkhead.
The Hoops relinquished their control of Scottish football to their arch enemy but Ange Postecoglou has arrived at Celtic Park and reinvigorated a club that looked rather lost.
He has brought in a number of new signings, completely revamping the playing squad and changing the way they play.
The quadrant of Jota, Kyogo, Liel Abada and Giorgos Giakoumakis have contributed to 79 goals between them while Cameron Carter-Vickers, Josip Juranovic and Carl Starfelt have all made themselves at home in the heart of the defence.
Matt O’Riley, Daizen Maeda and Reo Hatate also made an instant impact after arriving in January, all scoring already in the famous green and white.
However, there are a couple of purchases that have to be questioned. Yosuke Ideguchi has spent plenty of time on the treatment table since penning terms over the winter but the biggest concern has to be James McCarthy.
Indeed, RTÉ analyst Eamon Dunphy dubbed him a “terrible flop” earlier this season and it’s rather hard to argue with that assessment.
The Irishman arrived on big wages, £14k-per-week in fact, and he’s not done a lot to justify that salary. Hailing from Ireland, he appears to be cut from the same cloth as his international colleague, Shane Duffy.
He arrived from Brighton on a season-long loan deal last term and picked up a sizeable wage. However, like McCarthy, he had a torrid time in Glasgow despite previously thriving in the Premier League.
It’s difficult to grasp why the duo have both struggled so much, but one theory puts it down to the intensity of Postecoglou’s training sessions.
The Athletic reported last year that the former Crystal Palace midfielder had been finding life difficult in training as the pace of the manager’s sessions and the demands he placed on his players were simply too much for him to cope with.
As a result, it’s hardly a surprise that McCarthy has barely featured this campaign. The central midfielder has played 20 times in total, of which only eight appearances have come in the Premiership.
Consequently, there have been hints for him to be axed from the squad this summer. Alan Hutton told Football Insider: “You look at the ground Hatate covers, even McGregor. They’re workhorses. They get up and down the pitch, they make things happen and that question mark is over James McCarthy.
“Is he capable of doing that for 90 minutes? At the moment, I’m not so sure.”
He has only been at Celtic for just under a year but when you consider the sheer number of options Postecoglou boasts in his engine room, it’s tough to see McCarthy ever making it at Celtic.
It might just be time to cut ties with the Irishman.