This time last year, the young Ukrainian signed late in the window before heading back to Kaparty Lviv on loan. Between January and summer, Celtic fans binged YouTube videos of the winger, full of hope that Shved was going to fill a Patrick Roberts shaped hole in our hearts. We always knew that Shved would be mere competition for James Forrest who, like him or not, is the main man down the right-hand side. However, from afar, Shved looked like he might just have that something different – a spark of magic that other attackers might not be able to provide.
Alas, we sit halfway through the season having not yet seen a full half hour of Marian Shved. The former Sevilla youngster has made just a couple of late substitute appearances. The midfielder did manage to score in the first of those, in the second leg of Celtic’s Champions League qualifier against Nomme Kalju. Despite a fast start on his brief debut, Shved’s Celtic career has been pretty much non-existent.
At this point, many Celtic fans have suggested that Shved’s career with the hoops is a lost cause. The idea is that if the manager does not like what he sees of the player in training, then why should he play him? Shved was plucked out the air by former chief scout Lee Congerton, whose disastrous legacy at Celtic could well be topped off by Shved’s failure to break into the first team. A foreign player has come in, it hasn’t worked, we move on. How many times have we seen that?
On the other hand, plenty of the Celtic support believe that we should be seeing a lot more of Shved and be able to form an opinion on him before he is put in the shop window. This season there has been an inevitability about “#FreeShved” appearing regularly in the replies to the announcement of Celtic’s starting eleven before a game. The belief is that if we once thought he was worth a seven-figure transfer, he should be given the chance to show what he can do in a game.
The situation has reached boiling point in the last couple of weeks. Celtic played Partick Thistle in the Scottish Cup last Saturday in what was always going to be a comfortable game for the Celts. With Scott Sinclair and Lewis Morgan both having left the club and James Forrest and Mikey Johnston side-lined, surely the least Marian Shved could have expected was a place on the bench. However, the Ukrainian was nowhere to be seen at Firhill – thus prompting a number of Celtic fans to believe his time is up with the Scottish champions. Since then, Shved has also been missing in the matchday squads against Kilmarnock and Ross County.
Now, while this is all relevant, there are a number of things to consider regarding Shved’s lack of game time and reasons why we, the Celtic faithful, should be more patient with the youngster. For starters, Shved is still just 22. To put that into context, Shaun Maloney was the same age when he only just started playing regularly. It is still a very young age, even in football. We cannot give him forever to make an impression, but let’s at least let him settle in first. Secondly, he is in a totally different environment to what he knows. It is easy to forget the vast difference in culture between Scotland and somewhere like Ukraine. His language is very different to English and therefore learning English will be extremely difficult for him (particularly if he’s learning in Glasgow). Finally, one of the most important aspects is that Shved is a long way away from his family and friends. The youngster has a wife and a very young child. To come to Glasgow and have the pressure of fame in every part of the city while most of your family are not there to help must be a massive task.
We do not know the ins and outs of Shved’s Celtic career so far. Some say he hasn’t cut it at training, some say his attitude is a problem. However, from what we have seen at his previous club, there is a talented player in there – someone who could give us a real spark going forward.
Yes, the Marian Shved project has not worked anywhere near as quickly as we would have hoped. However, we have to be patient. Hopefully the youngster gets a chance before the end of the season and we can look back this time next year at the positive progress he has made.
What do you think is the best solution for Shved? A loan deal? A chance on the pitch? Or is it time to cut our losses?