After a stunning individual display against Rangers, can Dedryck Boyata turn things around?
The Belgian centre-back was central to Celtic’s 1-0 win over Rangers on Sunday. The Celtic Park clash was settled by Olivier Ntcham’s second-half goal. But Boyata and his fellow centre-back Kristoffer Ajer were rocks in the defensive third.
The former Manchester City man in particular made a plethora of terrific clearances. This kept Rangers at bay and allowed Celtic to build on a platform to get their three points.
Much of the talk going into the match was regarding Kyle Lafferty and Alfredo Morelos. The Rangers pair had caused Celtic problems in the past. However, at Parkhead on Sunday, the duo failed to get a sniff of goal.
The Bold Boyata
This was mainly down to the solid performance of Boyata, who’s been going through something of a renaissance in recent times.
It appeared that Hoops fans had given up on their number one centre-back. After an argument involving the club and his agent, he looked certain to go before the transfer window closed.
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Yet, an offer failed to materialise, and Boyata has now been back in the side for the last three matches. Coincidentally, Celtic have kept three clean sheets in their last three games.
Some fans didn’t want to acknowledge the affect Boyata has on the side. But the stats speak for themselves. With the centre-back in the side, the Hoops have a much more able rearguard.
The Hendry/Simunovic alternative
With Jack Hendry or Jozo Simunovic partnering Ajer, would Rangers have been so nullified going forward? It’s highly doubtful given the cheap goals Celtic gave away when either of the duo were playing.
Boyata, for now, has to continue playing. Regardless of how some supporters feel about the whole situation, the Belgian remains a favourite of Rodgers.
Sections of the supporters will never forgive him for refusing to play against AEK Athens. Added to that, he also didn’t travel to Suduva.
Yet, there are elements who are happy to see him back. The relationship with those supporters is clearly repairable.
Regardless of performances, however, relationships with the other elements won’t be as smoothly healed.