Celtic defender Shane Duffy hasn’t been a success at his boyhood club.
The Ireland captain was touted as a no-nonsense defender, who could shore up the defence with Kristoffer Ajer and Christopher Jullien. Instead, Celtic have struggled with injuries in defensive positions, and Duffy has been poor.
It’s the nightmare scenario for the Brighton loanee. Under Chris Hughton, the centre-back thrived in a compact system. At Celtic, he’s been asked to play the ball more often. That’s not something he does well.
Speaking on Open Goal, pundit Kevin Kyle was adamant that the Duffy experiment had to end.
The former Rangers striker said:
“Shane Duffy has lost all the confidence he had.
“I don’t think he has become a bad player overnight, it’s just not worked out for him. For whatever reason, his confidence has been zapped out of him.
No real mystery why Celtic and Shane Duffy have struggled
“For whatever reason”, Kyle says, but from a tactical perspective, it’s obvious.
Shane Duffy is your old-fashioned bruiser, with good aerial presence and traditional defensive instincts. That just doesn’t suit the Celtic profile for a centre-back.
Somewhat of a throwback of a defender, his stats compare unfavourably to his competition at Celtic. For example, Duffy completes only 84% of his passes per match, compared to Ajer and Welsh, who complete closer to 88%. The latter two make 3.2 and 1.9 long balls a game, while Duffy attempts 3.8.
In terms of conceding fouls, Duffy is far more dangerous. Ajer commits a mere 0.8 per game, Welsh 0.3. Duffy, meanwhile? 1.3. [All stats via WhoScored?]
These numbers might seem trifling or insignificant. Still, even a tenth of a percentage is an important distinction in terms of match averages. The averages point to what Celtic supporters are saying about Duffy; his distribution has been poor, and he’s rash in the tackle.
There’s no mystery here. It’s fair to say that Duffy’s arrival wasn’t properly researched. Perhaps, Lennon had visions of Duffy as a stopper between Ajer and Jullien, but the three of them don’t work together.
Let alone the chaos of Duffy and Bitton sharing centre-back positions.
It’s undoubtedly sad, and most of it isn’t Duffy’s fault. Not really. He’s a victim of circumstance to some degree; in a different era he might’ve thrived in the green and white.