Why we must give Hyeon-Gyu Oh more time to prove his worth

South Korean forward Hyeon-Gyu Oh’s performances have come under fire recently, as many onlookers start to write the young attacker off after just two starts.

Oh arrived in January and was brought in as an apparent replacement for the outgoing Giorgios Giakoumakis, who left around a fortnight after Oh checked in at Celtic Park.

It seemed like a good bit of business on Celtic’s part, selling a 28-year-old striker for around £4.3 million and replacing him with 21-year-old for a fee of around £2.5m. Oh cost Celtic the same amount that Giakoumakis had 17 months earlier, and his potential sell-on value will undoubtedly have been a factor in his acquisition.


Celtic were originally looking at his fellow countryman Gue-Sung Cho, however, talks between the two parties stalled as the player wanted to weigh up his options.

With Cho seemingly not interested in a move to Glasgow, Ange looked elsewhere and eventually brought in his international team-mate. Many have since been sceptical about the singing. 

Oh has featured 18 times for the champions this season, chipping in with four goals (110 minutes-per-goal).

Although not up to the standard of league top-scorer Kyogo Furuhashi at the moment (who is?), there are points to Oh’s game that Kyogo doesn’t possess.

He definitely adds a different dimension to the side. Standing over 6ft tall, the South Korean forward is a physical striker. This can often be seen with his incredible hold-up play and ability to bring the ball down and turn defenders – something he seems to relish.

The striker certainly has a keen eye for goal and is always lurking around the six-yard-box looking for that pass or drop of the ball.

Oh came on for the final 18 minutes during Saturday’s draw against St Mirren, and once again showed that keen eye for goal as he found space around 25 yards out before firing an audacious effort off the post.

There is certainly time on the youngster’s side. Having only signed in January, it can take time to acclimatise to Ange’s side. On A Celtic State of Mind, Paul John Dykes often claims that there is “match fit” and then a couple of levels above that is “Ange fit”. 

We have seen several transformations under Ange, including Japanese central-midfielder Reo Hatate, physically the 25-year-old is like a new man since his debut at Easter Road.

The fitness levels in an Ange side are second-to-none, and this is what often kills teams off in the end. His side’s relentless mentality to keep going until the very last second is why they so often get late goals and nick results.

A lot of these players have had two years under Ange, whereas Oh is only five months into his Celtic career. He is still growing and adapting into this physically and mentally demanding side.

There is no denying that Oh has had a few tough games during his time at Celtic. He was handed a start from Ange against Rangers last weekend, a game that he will want to forget quickly. With Celtic trailing early doors, the South Korean had an opportunity to put his side level. One-on-one with Robby McCrorie, Oh chipped the ball over the keeper, but his dinked effort came back off the post. This was a guilt-edged chance squandered in a game where he had a lot to prove.


Another game Oh would have liked to get on the scoresheet was Celtic’s 4-1 win at Kilmarnock last month. The striker was put on at half-time with international boss, Jurgen Klinsmann watching from the Rugby Park stand. Klinsmann had hailed the youngster as a:

“very special talent”.

Talking before the match to Sky Sports, the German legend said: “Even if he comes off the bench hopefully, he gets some minutes from Ange. He’s a very special talent. 

“I had him with me in the last two matches there when we played Colombia and Uruguay two weeks ago and he left a very, very positive impression so I’m curious to see him here.

“When you have the opportunity to play for a massive club like Celtic, it’s not easy for young players, obviously he’s fighting for minutes, but it’s a big learning curve ad I can only recommend young players to come to Europe and give it a try, give it their best and see where it goes.”

Despite Oh not getting on the scoresheet, the former German World Cup winner was pleased with what he saw.

Talking to the Daily Record after the match, Klinsmann said: “I went to the Celtic game and Oh Hyeon-Gyu was very impressive. 

“At the moment, he doesn’t get a lot of playing time at Celtic, but he confirmed to me how hungry he is to fight to try and get a place in the team.

“We met and discussed his development. It was a beneficial time for me to meet the European players. 

“He is a very strong-willed young man. 

“I told him it was important to understand the environment in which he now lives and to fit into it. I am sure he will get more opportunities in the future.”

Four goals in 18 games is definitely something the striker will be looking to improve on. 

Having watched Oh several times, he is always eager to get on the ball, looking to make runs and get into the six-yard-box. 

The desire is there, he has arrived with plenty potential, and I have no doubt that there is more to come.

His playing time is still extremely sporadic and the more game time he gets, the better he will become.

There has been a lot of speculation about the departure of Kyogo this summer. Should he leave, we will need someone who is going to bring us 25+ goals a season like the Japanese striker does.

I am not sure if Oh is quite there yet but given consistent game time and longer to adapt to the Scottish game, I believe that he can one day become Celtic’s first-choice centre-forward.


1 Comment
  1. for me it’s simple, because, i’m simple…

    like all new players who haven’t had a pre-season under Ange is they need a pre-season under Ange, before they can be ranked or ribbed.

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