Neil Lennon thought Patryk Klimala could add ‘effervescence’ to his Celtic team’s performance against Rangers yesterday, speaking to BBC Radio Scotland pre-match (18/10, 12:20).
With Odsonne Edouard ruled out of the occasion after testing positive for COVID-19, the manager had a big decision to make in the attacking areas.
Both Albian Ajeti and Leigh Griffiths were available for the fixture but, with both of them coming back from injuries, Lennon decided to hand Klimala just his second league start since arriving in January.
The Polish U21 striker found it difficult to make an impact up against an organised Rangers defence.
That’s not me singling him out or using him as a scapegoat. Nobody in a Celtic shirt really turned up yesterday.
Still, it’s undeniable our attack was ineffective.
Lennon explained the decision to start both Klimala and young defender Stephen Welsh on BBC Radio Scotland before kick-off (18/10, 12:20).
He said: “Welsh trains every day, he’s part of the squad, never lets us down, so no problem playing him.
“Klimala, he’s hungry.
“What these two will give us is effervescence, hunger and desire. That’s maybe been lacking in some areas.
“I’m comfortable with Klimala and Welsh starting, two young players who will bring some energy to the team.”
As shown by WhoScored, Klimala managed just 12 touches of the ball, completing just 2 accurate passes, before being substituted off in the second half.
What Lennon was looking for, he didn’t get.
That the manager had concerns about the hunger and desire of his other players heading into a massive derby against Rangers tells its own story too.
Although starting either Ajeti or Griffiths likely wouldn’t have transformed our team performance, I still would have had more confidence in them to do something against Steven Gerrard’s team than Klimala.
The January signing still looks just a step below the quality required and, while there’s potential there, I’m not sure he can be relied upon in our biggest matches of the season quite yet.