After a shaky start (Karagandy) the defence did really well for the most part last season although the quest to break records fell short with some end of season sloppiness. So far we have only lost Mouyokolo from last season’s squad so his place in the treatment room is currently free. We have a good defensive side of the squad with some promising youngsters pushing for consideration.
Right back is very strong but both Lustig and Matthews have been prone to long spells on the sidelines so we shouldn’t get too complacent. We are light at left back and at centre back and these are the areas I would like to see a focus on strengthening. Failing that developing the current players to fill the holes in the squad may work, something that may be right up Deila’s street. Perhaps Amido would make an excellent centre half?
2, Adam Matthews (RB, RM)
107 appearances, 4 goals, 22 years old, 5ft 10, Wales, 12 caps
Signed from Cardiff City, July 2011, Free
Matthews was a great signing three years ago and it’s hard to believe his young age given the maturity of his performances, great going forward and defensively, if he can continue his development he can be a top class player. His main obstacles are injury, he was out for a good few months after being Keith Lasleyed, and Mikael Lustig, who is just brilliant.
Matthews has on his side that he is great at running with the ball and is fast so could easily become a midfielder or even a winger, perhaps following in the footsteps of his countryman Gareth Bale’s journey from full back to flying forward? Definite possibility of seeing Matthews in a more advanced role and he has demonstrated in pre-season his attacking flair with a few assists already.
We should get a new contract in front of him pronto!
3. Emilio Izaguirre (LB)
151 appearances, 1 goal, 28 years old, 5ft 10, Honduras, 66 caps
Signed from Motagua, August 2010, £600k
Izzy has a good 13/14 season, recapturing some of the form from his Player of the Year winning debut season but had a strange world cup having seemingly turned into a hatchet man (although his booting the ball off Sturridge was pretty funny) and surprisingly missing the last group game.
He would seem well suited to the way Deila likes to play, passing it from the back and attacking at every opportunity whilst being handy defensively. Signed a new deal in the summer committing himself to us for a few years yet. Could do with another left back coming in to give us back-up and to create competition for places which could drive Emilio to new heights.
4, Efe Ambrose (CB, RB, CM)
93 appearances, 6 goals, 25 years old, 6ft 3, Nigeria, 37 caps
Signed from FC Ashdod, January 2012, Undisclosed
Efe forged a strong partnership with Virgil last season, is very relaxed on the ball and has the best damn goal celebrations you will ever see. On the other hand he is always prone to a mistake, a by-product of how laid back he is and his fearlessness of trying to dribble past opponents when he is outnumbered and if he gives it away they will be clean through…
Efe had a mixed world cup with Nigeria but hopefully we get the benefit of him testing himself against the best in the world. Again will suit the playing from the back style that Deila favours but is always likely to get caught in possession but if he can keep that to a minimum and develop his partnership with Virgil we could be in for a good season in Europe. He has a great attitude, although sometimes needs to be protected from himself (Juventus) so I hope Deila’s nurturing skills can
5, Virgil Van Dijk (CB)
47 appearances, 5 goals, 23 years old, 6ft 4, Holland, 0 caps
Signed from FC Groningen, June 2013, £2.6million
The big Dutchman got off to a sticky start (Karagandy again!) but swiftly showed he was the real deal and established himself as first choice centre half with a host of impressively assured displays. He oozes class and is great at stepping forward, scoring a few great goals and is a threat from set pieces. I felt he wavered a little bit towards the end of the season, maybe the desire to get to the world cup was weighing on his mind. Either that or some of his “personal issues”.
Along with Forster he is our main concern for moving on but hopefully we can hold on to him for the 14/15 season and give ourselves a chance to build on the foundations laid last season. He could be worth far more if he can develop further and prove himself in the Champions League. Virgil has been linked with Man Utd but I really can’t see that, surely if Van Gaal likes him so much as a player he would have called him into his squad for the world cup?
21, Charlie Mulgrew (CB, LB, CM, LM)
168 appearances, 26 goals, 28 years old, 6ft 3, Scotland, 11 caps
Signed from Aberdeen, July 2010, Free
Chico truly is the utility man and was a constant pick under Lennon given his versatility, skill on the ball and his commitment – if you look at the goals he scores they are often in games when we are up against it, Charlie has really made the most of his second chance at Celtic. He rarely lets us down and is one of us, so he is an essential part of the squad, both filling in where required but helping to set the tone and foster the culture of what our club is all about amongst the new and younger players.
Incredible really that he has gone on to make so many appearances after looking pretty shocking in those early games in Europe under Lennon (Braga springs to mind) but firmly established as a key man in the squad, it will be interesting to see if Deila values him as much as Lennon did.
He also hates Kyle Lafferty which secures anyone a place in my heart.
23, Mikael Lustig (RB, CB)
72 appearances, 5 goals, 27 years old, 6ft 2½ , Sweden, 41 caps
Signed from Rosenborg, January 2012, Free
I’m sure I wasn’t alone in being delighted at the news that Mikael had signed a new deal, keeping him here for at least another three years. He is a class act on the field, solid defensively and great going forward, although he often struggled to finish a full game but that may have something to do with the hip problem he had operated on. Lustig, I think, is firmly the first choice right back and I feel has been driven on by the competition from Matthews. His passion for the club was visible when we qualified for the Champions League last season and it only served to spread the love for the man with the dodgy moustache. His goal in the thrashing of the Jambos was a highlight of last season for me. Please don’t sell him at any price.
41, Darnell Fisher (RB)
13 appearances, 0 goals, 20 years old, 5ft 9, England, 0 caps
Fisher had a great breakthrough season last year but finds himself in arguably the most difficult position to get into the team with Lustig and Matthews in front of him in the pecking order. He needs to continue his development and earn his place but it will no doubt be tough for him this year.
Very promising but I think he is somewhat behind where Matthews was at the same age.
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