Billy Dodds' comments on Celtic's back-line must be a wind-up

By David Walton

March 1, 2020

Billy Dodds’ comments on the Celtic defence can’t help but look like a real wind-up.

The former Rangers striker has had a big pop at Kristoffer Ajer in particular, after stating that Jozo Simunovic was our best centre-back. All of this was without a real base to the argument either.

Jozo and Ajer both made crucial mistakes against Copenhagen last Thursday night. However, Ajer and Christopher Jullien have formed a formidable partnership together throughout the Europa League campaign that saw us top the group.

Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer (Michael Steele/Getty Images)

However, despite that, Dodds had a bizarre go at Ajer when he tried to compare him to Simunovic. Here are the comments, which came from yesterday’s Sportsound program (29/02, 14:30):

“Listen, so many people might disagree with me here, but I think Simunovic is their best defender if he is fit. He is an out and out defender. And look there is a mistake there and there was the other night. But I think he ‘s better – and its just my opinion – than Christopher Jullien. And I think he is better than Ajer.

“Ajer has potential but I have seen Ajer playing for Kilmarnock and he’s got a lot to learn. He is all or nothing and you look at some of the positions he gets into the other night. Letting the boy through for the third goal when it is just clean him out time, on the edge of your box.

“He was so poor but there is potential there for Ajer. He is quick but he has to start learning the game in his mind. And Jullien is a bit similar. Sometimes he has chipped in with goals. He is a good defender, Ajer is a good defender, but out of them Simunovic is the best out-and-out defender.”

You can’t forget the positives that Ajer brings

Dodds clearly doesn’t watch us every week. Yes, Ajer can sometimes be rash in the challenge, but he hardly makes the wrong decision consistently. When Ajer does his job and keeps out the likes of Ciro Immobile, Felipe Caicedo, Alfredo Morelos, M’Baiye Niang, and Billel Omrani – he doesn’t get anywhere near as much praise as he gets stick for the odd error.

When Simunovic is fit and at it, he is a fine centre-back. The problem is he has a tendency to make individual errors more than anyone else in our back-line. When he is fully fit, these errors don’t stop either. It’s just part of his game. He makes them regularly, with Dodds not giving any solid evidence to prove why Ajer is poorer in comparison.

Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic in action against Copenhagen (Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images)

He was keen to dismiss Simunovic’s mistake, but had a right go at Ajer for his own against Copenhagen. He also tries to use Ajer’s time at Kilmarnock as evidence to beat him with. That was three years ago. Has he not improved at all since then Billy?

There’s a reason Ajer has made 46 appearances for Celtic this season (Transfermarkt). It’s the same reason that Jullien has made 43 (Transfermarkt). They’re our two most dependable, confident, and best defenders.

Yes, they may have the odd error in them. That goes without saying. Which footballer doesn’t? But more often than not they get the job done. Jozo has to rediscover his confidence again, but even when he does he’ll still only play when Ajer or Jullien need a rest or get injured. The reason? He’s simply not as good – Dodds must be at the wind-up in having such a dig at Ajer given how good he’s been this season.

Who do you think is the best defender at the club? Do you even agree with Dodds that it’s Simunovic? Have I got it all wrong? Give us your verdict in our discussion forum below.