Imagine for a moment that Brendan Rodgers had just become the Celtic manager in July 2017. How many Tims would be throwing rose petals at his feet 6 months into the job. Top of the league by 8 points, qualified for the Champions League in his first attempt and has the Celts playing European football after Christmas.
Instead, he has lost one domestic game and come under fire from some quarters. It’s pretty crazy. Some players who last season were so magical and beautiful have also felt the consequences of one too many draws. It is the halfway point of the season, one trophy already on the shelf and Celtic are on course for a double treble. Let’s try to evaluate some players with a level head and as fairly as possible.
Gordon Score 6.5
One of the best shot-stoppers Celtic have had at the club, he pulls off some world-class saves for someone who is coming to the end of his playing days. Unfortunately for Gordon, Brendan Rodgers style of football demands more than just stopping shots. This is when Gordon falls short, some of his decision making and kicking causes wildfire panic at the back and some fans want him gone. In his defence he is a goalkeeper from a different generation when a good hoof up the park did the trick.
Lustig: Score 5.5
It’s hard to score and low ball players like Lustig when they have given so much to the club. But these scores are based on 6 months and for the last 6 months the right-back has looked leggy and lost for pace. His game against the Newco is probably still too fresh in the memory to make him an easy low scoring target. He had a stinker. Hopefully, the break will rejuvenate him and a few others.
It’s funny at the start of the season fans were crying out for big Boyata to return from injury. He did so well last season that at times he has looked unrecognisable since his return. In fairness to him, he has stuck with it but he does have a big target on his back for most Celtic fans.
Same as above? Both central defenders at one point looked like they were dragging each other down. A lot has been made of his injuries but he’s a young lad and both him and Boyata got no time to ease back into games after their injuries. Both defenders were straight back into the deep end and they both drowned.
At the start of the season, he looked like a young kid trying to play in the big boys league. Celtic’s Euro qualifiers cast a shadow on the defender’s ability but he finished off the last few games looking like a seasoned pro. He has everyone talking, but, if anything he is proof that Jozo and even Boyata can turn things around in the second half of the season. He could easily be a 7 but needed more game time.
It’s such a joy to watch KT every week, he sticks his heart on his jersey and leaves it all on the pitch. He is completely unfazed by the hype surrounding him. Himself and Sinclair don’t seem to be as in tandem this season but it is hard to take any points away from KT for his efforts. His stock grows with each passing month and he is now rightly internationally recognised as one of footballs emerging superstars.
Some criticisms coming this season for Scott Sinclair, another player who could do no wrong last season. This just proves how fickle the football fan is and how high the standards are at Celtic. The winger has had to come out and back up his performances with stats to try and silence some critics. Personally, I think Scotty is having a good season but we can all agree he can do so much more. He looks like something is lacking when it comes to going past players but his goals and assists are way above average.
The belters have dried up for Stuart Armstrong. He has come in for a lot of stick this season but how much of that stems from contract negotiations? The reality is, his form this season has been that of a Jelkl & Hyde impression. I would have major concerns for Stuart Armstrongs future at Celtic. Even if he comes out and puts in a brilliant second half to the season some folk will say he is playing for a move away.
It’s hard to believe at 32, Scott Brown is having his best season in a Celtic shirt. He looked possessed against the Newco. He looked like an Edgar Davids or a Roy Keane at the peaks of their powers. He was all over the park and won every challenge he went in for. He was the only player on the park that looked invincible. Since the start of the season, the Celtic skipper has had the job of keeping everyone level-headed and focused on winning. You can see his effect on the rest of the squad, Scott Brown had a massive role on and off the field to get Celtic to 69 games unbeaten. When you listen to other players getting interviewed they all mention Broony as ‘chief motivator’.
Really want to give a 7 but I think he probably needed a few more games under his belt. The box to box midfielder seemed to grow in stature with each passing game but like I just said already he hasn’t really enjoyed a run of games. Hopefully, we can see Oliver get a run in the team when Celtic get back in action when he is on form he looks like a gem.
I have to admit to always been a big James Forrest fan. To see him getting his rewards this season is very satisfying. He performs better with someone sitting on the bench and offering some competition. With the big loss of Roberts and Hayes the pacey winger will have to find his motivation from elsewhere.
Some of our midfielders can all be lumped in the same box, McGregor, Rogic, and Armstrong all dipped in and out of form this season. Consistency seems to have deserted them. You can’t fault McGregor for effort but nothing on a football park seems to be coming off for him this season, even a short pass. He needs to get back to just doing the basics and doing them correctly.
I always felt big Tam should have been getting more starts with his skill and composure on the ball. He also likes to put the ball into the top corner. But not this season, another stop/start splutter player who heads to a World Cup in the summer. He better come back from injury on fire.
In defence of all our strikers, the rotation has not done any of them any favours. That said, Moussa’s 35 million price tag has a sale sign with 18 million on it now. It’s no longer Chelsea and Man United scouting the French Forward but Brighton & Everton. That tells you all you need to know about his performances this season.
He pips Dembele in the score charts just for pure effort. Griffiths looks much more focused than Dembele, he looks hungrier for the game time but he has also been shooting blanks. By his own standards, it hasn’t been a great 6 months for Super Leigh. I believe if Rodgers stuck with either Griff or Moussa the goals will come.
Not enough game time to give a real rating but looked untouchable with his hat-trick against Motherwell. He got to live off that hat-trick for a game or two but Rodgers seems keen on taking him to Celtic Park on a full time basis. There is no doubt he has talent but the striker rotation won’t do much to nurture that talent either.
Bitton should probably get an honourable mention and a pat on the back for the job he did when been asked to play out of position. Truth be told it’s hard to see him in any long-term plans. The Celtic midfield is overcrowded and I don’t see a place in it for Bitton.
Roberts was another player who looked like a shadow of the player from last season but you know the bhoy is soaked in quality and will come good. Johnny Hayes must feel really hard done by, he’d finally started getting some game time before his horrible injury.
Anthony Ralston is hotly tipped to emulate his fellow wing-back Tierney but he just got injured at the wrong time.
Any other player left out just didn’t feature enough.
The Green Machine