Kennedy not buy­ing ‘Turks in tur­moil’ talk

Celtic coach wary of Van Per­sie’s threat

The Herald - Sport - - FRONT PAGE - NEIL CAMERON

JOHN KENNEDY, the Celtic first-team coach, has warned against read­ing too much into the tur­moil at Europa League op­po­nents Fener­bahce and in­sisted their sum­mer sign­ing, Robin van Per­sie, re­mains a world-class striker.

The Turk­ish club spent heav­ily in the trans­fer win­dow but fail­ure to reach the Cham­pi­ons League has put new coach Vi­tor Pereira un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure, and there is a real chance he could be sacked if his side lose in Glas­gow on Thurs­day night.

Pereira has also fallen out with sum­mer sign­ing Van Per­sie and while the Dutch­man came off the bench to score on Sun­day, the pair’s frosty re­la­tion­ship was caught on cam­era when the for­mer Manch­ester United man clearly hes­i­tated be­fore weakly shak­ing his man­ager’s out­stretched hand while sit­ting in the tech­ni­cal area.

Fener­bahce are on the same num­ber of points as top-of-the-ta­ble Be­sik­tas in the Turk­ish Su­per League, but the home de­feat to Molde in the open­ing Europa League fix­ture and his han­dling of Van Per­sie, re­port­edly on a weekly wage of £220,000, has put huge pres­sure on Pereira, who was at one stage in the run­ning for the Rangers job.

The Por­tuguese has opted to use Brazil­ian striker Fer­nandão ahead of the 32-year-old for most matches. How­ever, Kennedy be­lieves the Dutch cap­tain will start on Thurs­day night and that he re­mains a threat.

“We don’t take any pos­i­tives from talk of Van Per­sie hav­ing prob­lems with the coach,” said Kennedy. “Based on what I’ve seen, Van Per­sie had a big im­pact on the game when he came on. I’d be very sur­prised if he didn’t start against us on Thurs­day. He is their best striker.

“Van Per­sie is 32 now and ob­vi­ously at the other end of his ca­reer. But he is still a top, top player. His fin­ish on Sun­day night was ex­cel­lent. He is very calm in front of goal. There is in­tel­li­gence there.

“He’s still got legs and he’s def­i­nitely got a football brain. That’s some­times the most im­por­tant thing.

“With the ex­pe­ri­ence he has, he looks af­ter his own game. He is still a threat. He is al­ways there or there­abouts when chances come into the box.

“He is scor­ing goals and they have got that in dif­fer­ent ar­eas of the pitch. We know what his strengths are and we need to make sure we look af­ter that.”

A win for Celtic would all but make Group A a three-way fight be­tween the Scot­tish cham­pi­ons and Molde and Ajax who face each other in Nor­way.

Kennedy, how­ever, promised no­body at his club is get­ting too car­ried away with their chances. “Lis­ten, peo­ple are say­ing Fener­bahce are a club which is strug­gling, but they’re not,” he said.

“They lost on Sun­day night and had a dis­ap­point­ing re­sult in the Cham­pi­ons League against Shakhtar Donetsk.

“But out­with that, they have been quite con­vinc­ing from what I have seen. They have a lot of top play­ers.

“They are in tran­si­tion, with a new coach this sea­son and about eight new play­ers.

“But the play­ers they have are very im­pres­sive – Van Per­sie, Nani and sev­eral other top-class play­ers,

“It will be a tough game. Molde ob­vi­ously got a good re­sult against them two weeks ago but we have to make sure we bring our ‘A’ game on Thurs­day if we are to get any­thing out of the match.”

RIFT: Robin van Per­sie has fallen out with Fener­bahce coach Vi­tor Pereira

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.