Kris Commons talks Celtic: Newboy Ntcham, UCL draw & much more
A five-time league winner with Celtic, Kris Commons also lifted the Scottish Cup and League Cup for the Hoops, as well as appearing in some of the club’s most memorable European nights.
The 33-year-old left Parkhead at the end of last season, following 226 games and 91 goals in the famous green-and-white hoops. But he’s still keeping a keen eye on the club’s fortunes.
We caught up with Kris to get his verdict on the club’s recent displays, new buys and European hopes for the season.
Celtic reached the Champions League group stage following an 8-4 aggregate defeat of FC Astana, and the midfield maestro was impressed by what he saw.
Commons told us: “The first leg was a very convincing win, and showed what they’re capable of coming forward. The game in Kazakhstan was obviously a little nervy at 4-1, but Celtic never looked in real danger. The main achievement was to reach the group stage – and they’ve ticked that box without too much trouble.”
The UCL draw has pitted the Hoops alongside Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Anderlecht. It’s a very tough crop of opponents, but one Commons feels fans of the Bhoys will be delighted by.
“Celtic fans want to draw the big guns in the group, to get those extra-special European nights”, he explained.
“Obviously it’s going to be an enormous ask to make the top two, but Brendan spoke before the draw about trying to get European football after December. That might be in the Europa League, but it would still be a big achievement.”
One man Kris thinks could be key for the club this term is summer signing Olivier Ntcham, who joined from Manchester City for £4.5m.
“Olivier is a very good all-round player, and is extremely athletic”, Commons said. “He has the energy to get up and down the park for a whole 90 minutes. But most importantly, he’s technically gifted, and skilled with both feet.”
“I don’t think he has any real weaknesses. He’s added a couple of goals so far, but I think that’s something he’ll be looking to do with real regularity. If he can add that to his game, he’ll be an absolutely top-class buy.”
The former Derby County man is also confident the Hoops have all the attributes to not just lift another Treble…but match last season’s feat of going unbeaten domestically. Commons stated:
“They’ve got all the attributes there to win another Treble. The way I see it, Celtic are the only side who can beat themselves. If they play at the level they’re capable of, nobody can outdo them.”
He continued: “They’ve also a decent chance of going unbeaten again, but it’s always a big ask when you’re competing on all three fronts in Scotland, and a European campaign.”
The only concern right now for the former SWFA Footballer of the Year is the club’s current injury problems, explaining: “The current defensive injuries will be a bit of a concern to Brendan, but they’re still winning games. However, the sooner Erik Sviatchenko, Dedryck Boyata and Cristian Gamboa come back, the better.”
There certainly is a special buzz about the club right now, and, unsurprisingly, Kris puts much of that down to the impact of Brendan Rodgers. He explained:
“Brendan knows what managing Celtic means, and how to get the best out of a top team. He proved that down in England with Liverpool. As a manager, he’s brought a very high level of professionalism to this job, and focuses on getting things perfect on the training ground.”
That’s everything on the present…but what about Kris’ memories of his halcyon days at Parkhead? We asked the Hoops hero for his favourite UCL and Ladbrokes Premiership games, respectively.
“I can narrow Champions League down to two”, he said. “The 3-0 win over Shakter Kharagandy when we qualified for the Group Stage in 2012, and the 2-1 victory against Barcelona. Both were incredibly memorable nights.”
As for the league: “It’s got to be my home debut against Rangers [in February 2011]. We won 3-0 and I scored the goal that rounded off the win! It was an unbelievable atmosphere and experience.”
Want to hear more from Kris? Check out last night’s Ladbrokes Football Show here.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing