Johan Mjallby: Celts preparing for Ajax
By: Laura Brannan in Germany on 18 Jul, 2012 16:17
CELTIC assistant manager, Johan Mjallby, is now seeing the rigours of the pre-season training routine coming to fruition thanks to the Hoops’ second-half performance against VfR Aalen.
Following going behind to a scrappy fourth-minute opener, the Celts rallied and took the spoils thanks to two second-half goals from Gary Hooper and Anthony Stokes.
The Swede said: “I was pleased with the second half because for the first time on this trip we started passing the ball the way we should do and can do.
“It’s been a hard pre-season for the boys because we’ve been training them quite hard and that’s been more down to fitness.
“But from now on there will be more focus on football and now we need to get back to playing and passing the ball the way we know we can.
“So we were pleased to get the two goals by playing much more solidly and much more steadily in the second half.”
He said of going behind to the early goal: “At first we were frustrated and upset that they got such an easy goal from a set-piece and they got in very easily between our defenders.
“So that was a disappointing start, but from then on we didn’t really play in the first half.
“There was no real aggression and no momentum so we didn’t really pass the ball well.
“We had a quiet word with them at half time and we obviously wanted them to step it up a wee bit.
“We’ve been training them hard and they’re tired but they should be better on the ball. However, we’re happy and glad that they started to play a wee bit more.
“Now we’re going to ease off a wee bit in training and focus on the football more and hopefully that’s going to put us in good stead for the Ajax game.”
He added: “The Anthony Stokes goal was a beautiful goal and a great moment – we’ve got players who can do that but it’s just that we’ve been lacking a wee bit for the first couple of games.
“It was just great build-up play and a great goal. Even the first goal for the equaliser was a beautiful ball in from Dylan McGeouch and Gary Hooper was there to get the goal.
“They were two good goals and that was down to the football we played which was so much better in the second half.”
The game also featured the likes of Victor Wanyama and Mikael Lustig for the first time on the trip as they were afforded some extra time off following international duty over the summer – the Kenyan in World Cup qualifiers and the Swede in Euro 2012.
The assistant manager said: “Obviously, they haven’t had that many days in training so it was good for them to get some football.
“You can see with Victor that he doesn’t need much training because he was just brilliant.
“He’s a superstar in the making, there’s no question about that and it was good for Mikael as well to get some football in.
“It will be good for them because we need all the bodies we can right now and we don’t want to pick up any injuries
“We’ve got Georgios Samaras coming back into training as well now.”
He added: “We’re all looking forward to Ajax right now because that’s going to be a stern test for us
“They are a quality side and it is games like this one against Ajax that we need to play to see where we are really before we venture into European football and try to qualify for the Champions League.”