THERE is a lot of uncertainty surrounding Josip Juranovic’s Celtic future in this transfer window.
One thing that is abundantly clear, though, is the fact he should never again be played in the left-back position.
In the space of 24 days, Juranovic went from a composed, quality performer against Brazil’s Vinicius Junior in Croatia’s penalty-kick victory in the World Cup Finals in Qatar to a struggling, nervous wreck against Fashion Sakala in the 2-2 draw at Ibrox yesterday.
The defender looked a hollowed-out shell of a player who caught the attention of many with his accomplished, dependable displays during the soccer showpiece.
CALM BEFORE THE STORM…Josip Juranovic sits on the substitutes’ bench alongside Filipe Jota at Ibrox. Ange Postecoglou watches the action unfold.
CQN are not jumping on the bandwagon of criticism that has come the way of player in the aftermath of an admittedly poor outing in Govan following his appearance as a 21st-minute substitute.
Here is what we wrote in our match report when the Croatian international took a bow in Celtic’s colours at the same venue on August 29 2021: Josip Juranovic made his debut at left-back in place of the injured Greg Taylor and, good player the Croatian undoubtedly is, he proved conclusively his left foot is for standing on.
After yesterday, we see no reason for changing that opinion. If anything, Juranovic’s anxiety-riddled showing against the Zambian enhanced our thoughts.
Josip Juranovic does not know how to play left-back. Naturally, there is a world of difference playing on the right side of the rearguard than the opposite flank.
The player’s angles were all wrong and he rarely knew what was happening inside him. The first goal highlighted the deficiency when Allan McGregor launched the ball downfield in direction of Sakala.
Juranovic was completely lost, totally out of position and the Ibrox winger made the most of the freedom to set up Ryan Kent for the equaliser.
TOILING…Josip Juranovic is given the slip by Fashion Sakala as captain Callum McGregor offers cover in the prelude to the Ibrox side’s equaliser yesterday.
Sakala again gave the Celt the slip to force Carl Starfelt into a reckless sliding challenge and referee John Beaton was swift to point to the penalty spot where James Tavernier swept the second goal beyond the helpless Joe Hart.
Juranovic toiled against a direct opponent who revelled in the unexpected space he was being afforded by the left-back.
With a bit more quality, the home player may have made the most of two other opportunities that came his way later on with the Celt hopelessly out of position.
Juranovic may not even be at Parkhead this time next month, but while he is a Celtic player it must be hoped he is never tasked again with attempting to play in the left-sided role.
Square pegs and round holes spring to mind. Jock Stein always insisted on players playing to their strengths and disguising their weaknesses.
Juranovic, through no fault of his own, wasn’t allowed to play to his strengths and nor could he disguise his weaknesses.
Ange Postecoglou spent £3.75million on bringing in Alexandro Bernabei in the summer as cover for Taylor.
If the Scotland international is ruled out for Saturday’s visit of Kilmarnock, there is only one player who should occupy the left-back position.
Bernabei is a natural left-footed player and there can be little argument he would have had the skills to make sure a player such as Sakala did not dominate the second-half as he did yesterday.