Anyone who has watched Celtic in recent weeks knows the impact Jeremie Frimpong has on the team. He alone has the ability to run at and past defenders, without him, Celtic are significantly easier to defend against. This has been clear from recent performances and his absence from the starting line-up against Riga was my principle concern before the game.
He did not start last night because when we go three at the back, it is Jeremie or James Forrest on the right. After the game Neil Lennon told us James has struggled with an ankle injury for a couple of weeks, leaving us with the classic ingredients for recency bias. James’ recent injury-affected form has been below the standard or Jeremie’s. But of all the occasions you could make a case to start James Forrest, European qualifiers will be the easiest. He scores and creates goals in qualifiers at a prodigious rate.
Also, watchers of Celtic in recent seasons will know that Injury is the Mother of Invention. Where would Ryan Christie be without Eboue Kouassi and Olivier Ntcham picking up first half injuries at Murrayfield? Jeremie is now likely to get a run at Hibs and Sarajevo. What happens in the middle of the park is more intriguing.
Scott Brown took a knock that will keep him under observation between now and the Hibs game. That clip on Scott’s Achilles’ gives the manager lots to consider. After Hibs, we have four hugely important games: Sarajevo, then after the international break: Newco, Aberdeen away and Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup semi-final. The roster becomes significantly trickier if we overcome Sarajevo, as we would have two Europa League games before next month’s semi-final.
I read many asking, why does Scott Brown play practically every minute of every game? It is clearly not that you have spotted something that escaped the manager’s attention, Neil Lennon does not have a blind spot that tens of thousands of Celtic fans can see through, so let’s not pretend otherwise.
You have been watching football all of your life, so you know by now that what you see on the field is only part of the story. Any team: footballers, salesmen, network engineers or shop staff, need a common culture and leadership to reach their best. What a boss gets from his or her line manager in frontline performance, in any walk of life, is not the entire contribution.
I have a friend who is also a customer. He tells me what I need to do with my staff and I tell him the same about his staff. Neither of us take the others’ advice, because I am using the resources I have to keep my team focussed on our objective and he is doing the same. I talk to him about practically every personal aspect of my life, but I don’t even go into the detail of this stuff with him, because it involves personal details about others. In very simple environments like mine and his, teams are complicated things.
I would like to see Jeremie start more games and I am really keen to see central mid re-jigged. From my seat on the couch, both are crucial to our outcomes this season. But I know there’s a ton of human dynamics in every team that outsiders are clueless about. The manager needs to keep this indoors while suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous opinion. It can be a tough gig. It is good that we have all ‘been there, done that’, when it comes to building a winning football team, so none of us exist in a fantasy that we are the true fonts of wisdom Neil Lennon really has to listen to. I mean, can you imagine thinking like that? Jeez.
Have a great weekend.