Let’s start off by acknowledging one thing – Jonny Hayes was not the reason Celtic lost at Hibernian yesterday.
He’s not even in the top five reasons for the shocking performance at Easter Road. Comical defending, even more ridiculous tactics, and no adaptability are well above Hayes in that regard.
What was easy to notice on Sunday outside all of that, however, was how ineffective the former Aberdeen man was when he came on.
Make no mistake, Hayes is on the outside looking in. He’s nowhere near a first-choice starter and hasn’t been anywhere near it since arriving at the beginning of last season. The fact he’s made 21 appearances in a year-and-a-half at the club tells you all you need to know.
Still, despite the fact he’s scored just one goal for the club, Rodgers still persists with him. Not as much as he does with Scott Sinclair, but he still likes to turn to the Irishman for help.
It’s totally understandable. Celtic splashed out £1million on him to get him from Aberdeen. The club would therefore like some form of return on it from Hayes.
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It’s not as if he isn’t capable. At Pittodrie, he was explosive down the left and had arguably the highest range of crossing ability in Scotland. Now? He looks nervous when even thinking about taking a man on.
Jonny Hayes just doesn’t have a good record
Hayes has made four domestic appearances this season for Celtic. The Hoops have won just one of them, whilst two have ended in defeat. In all appearances, he’s failed to bring anything to the side with regards to any quality.
When certain players aren’t performing, others have to. You can rely on James Forrest, Tom Rogic, Ryan Christie, and Callum McGregor to do this often. But Hayes? Not once has he produced a match-winning performance for Rodgers.
When he plays, be it down the left or right, Celtic are getting nothing from that area of the pitch. Again, there are more glaring problems than Hayes in the squad, but he symbolises the lack of depth Celtic have these days.
Mikey Johnson is waiting in the wings for a chance. He impressed against Hibs and has shown terrific feet throughout his young career so far. Hayes has certainly given it his best at Celtic and throughout his time in Scottish football – the reality is, however, that much better options are available.
If the manager continues to underestimate Premiership opposition by playing Hayes, it’s a dangerous game. Celtic have won just three of nine away matches all season, and have no room for such arrogance at this point.
It’s easy to say let him go. Who’s going to buy him considering he’s now in his 30s and injury-prone? Instead, it’s best Celtic only use him as a serious last-resort.
Outside of that, Rodgers has to find an alternative.