The curious case of Anthony Ralston and why we shouldn't be surprised

Updated: Aug 12

Anthony Ralston and James Forrest

Celtic's current roaring right-back is a familiar name for most fans of the club, although many now refer to the youth-team product as Tony Ralves (in homage to former Barcelona superstar, Dani Alves).

Ralston, the club's fourth choice right-back last season, found himself in the unusual position of being Celtic's only recognised right-sided defender as pre-season came and went and the club kicked off their competitive fixtures.

With a new manager in charge - Ralston's fourth since breaking into the first team under Ronny Deila in May 2016 - the lifelong Celtic fan had the chance to prove himself all over again whilst adapting to the rigours and philosophy-change that an Ange Postecoglou pre-season brings.

As Ralston was working hard in the background, there was a large section of the Celtic support who were vocal towards the board about their dissatisfaction that our new manager had no option other than preparing for a Champions League qualifier with Ralston as the only choice in his position.

This was partly down to the fact that many didn't believe Ralston was good enough to warrant a first-team spot on top of being frustrated at the poor planning that meant we hadn't replaced Jeremie Frimpong or Hatem Elhamed when they left the club at the beginning of the year.

Talent and desire

But Ralston's early season performances, especially in the SPL where he currently sits joint second top goal scorer behind the impressive Kyogo Furuhashi, have changed the opinions and spirits of the Celtic faithful.

Not only has he got a new eye for goal, but the 22 year old Scot has completed 84% of his 253 passes in five appearances so far this campaign. Whilst this is something we haven't seen consistently from Ralston so far in his Celtic career, his potential didn't go unnoticed by former manager, Brendan Rodgers:

Anthony was absolutely outstanding. When I first came in, he really impressed me as a 17-year-old. I took him away with me in pre-season and I liked what I saw. He’s a very honest boy – strong, aggressive and can defend but, vitally, he can pass the ball. He has good mobility and he’s quick and he looks a hardy boy and he is. I thought he was absolutely brilliant for his start.

The Ange effect

Another factor that can't be overlooked is the influence of Big Ange on developing youth talent as well as the perfect marriage of his footballing vision and Ralston's best attributes:

“My job is to give those footballers an opportunity and make them realise their potential. For me, age is irrelevant, it’s about players who are really ambitious and want to produce something special. Our careers all come to an end at some stage, but if you can produce something that lasts well beyond your career then it makes everything you’ve done worthwhile.” Postecoglou said.

Now, five years after his debut, Ralston has been presented with the perfect opportunity to realise not only his talent, but his boyhood dream of being a regular in a Celtic jersey.

Whilst I have no doubt that the club will bring in a new right-back before the window closes at the end of the month, that man will have to be at the top of his game everyday to claim the right-back spot as their own.

At the very least, Celtic fans now know that they have one of their own that they can rely on.

"I’ve been here since I was very young. This is where I want to be and I want to start playing more games." - Anthony Ralston