CELTIC might not be having the best of seasons, but you would certainly bet on their comeback. They have a history of success and, as the saying goes, form is temporary but talent is permanent.
While the records show some high-quality footballers passing through the dressing room, which of the players is going to get them going again this year and beyond?
Here we look at five of the players we tip our hats to for the contribution they bring to Celtic.
While only a youngster at a mere 21, David Turnbull has become the fulcrum for Celtic’s attacks. He signed in the summer of 2020 for £3.5 million from Motherwell and spent four months trying to break into the first team. Now, this class act is leading the team in the pursuit of goals. Not only is he a great finisher, but he offers amazing service to the rest of the strikers.
If we were to pinpoint the moment that Celtic emerged from the hapless slump they found themselves in, it would be December. It is not a coincidence that this is the time that Turnbull emerged from a month of quarantining after a positive COVID test. On his return, he scored three goals and three assists. Neil Lennon must have been delighted that the talent he saw in this playmaker was paying dividends just when the pressure was mounting.
To be fair, Edouard has been the real disappointment of Celtic’s season to date. There are a lot of uncertainties about the Frenchman, not least whether he will still be at the club for the rest of 2021. However, when the real Odsonne Edouard turns up, he can make things happen. You only need to look at last season when he scored 28 goals for the club.
When Edouard was on the pitch, defenders would flock to him and leave space for others. Even with the backline hovering like flies, he was able to spin his magic. In short, he was unplayable last season. In contrast, this season to date, he looks lacklustre and unconvincing.
Why has the star man become so lacklustre? Most blame it on the fact he is a reluctant team member. He is being conscripted on to the pitch each week without any desire to play for his team. Edouard is deserving of a more illustrious club in Europe and wants to leave Scotland behind.
So, why do we list him here? Well, mostly because when he does shine on the pitch he has the capacity to be the game changer. He could be the secret source that Lennon needs to win every game left in the season, which is realistically the answer right now. We would bet that Lennon has the managerial skills to draw the Frenchman from his poor run of form and help him to love playing for the club again. He helped by scoring two goals in the 4-0 win at Kilmarnock to take his tally to 16.
CAPTAIN’S ROLE…Scott Brown dives to head in the opening goal in the 4-0 win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.
All good Scottish teams need a warrior. They need that player who will go into battle game after game and put his body on the line. Scott Brown is this man, as the captain of the team, he leads by example. However, at the age of 35-years-old, it is fair to ask how many more times he can lead the club to victory.
Yet, you cannot underestimate the influence of Brown on Celtic. He has won an amazing 22 honours with the team, three of which came last season when the club did the treble for the fourth time in a row. It is an unprecedented level of success and in no small part thanks to the leadership of this man.
Brown is always available, always first on the team sheet and the first to shout encouragement to his colleagues.
However, as age is a factor, he is now in competition for a starting place thanks to the emergence of Ismaila Soro for that deep midfield role. You do sense that Brown will continue to be an inspiration from the bench, picking the team up by the scruff of the neck when the performance is below par.
One worry for fans of Celtic is his contract. Scott Brown’s deal expires in the summer. Could this be his last season?
Is it a surprise that Celtic have struggled when the likes of Mikey Johnston have been out with calf and knee problems? This gifted player has so much technical ability that any time off the pitch is a loss to the manager. Indeed, 2020 has been pretty much a write-off for Johnston and if he can return to full fitness he will be a significant asset to Lennon.
The final of our star five is no less that the captain of the Republic of Ireland. He arrived on loan from Brighton with a touch of fanfare. While the no-nonsense centre-back might not have brought the flair and delight the fans would hope for, he does offer a whole load of confidence to the back line.
While he is struggling to settle into his role, he is starting to show some of the qualities that Lennon needed in the team. He is a professional and will do all he can to live up to the hype that came with his arrival.