Celtic failing to provide Lennon with new centre-back is a grim sign

By David Walton

February 9, 2021

Celtic were well informed by Neil Lennon that he wanted a new centre-back during the January window.

It stretches all the way back to when Chris Jullien injured his knee ligaments against Dundee United. Lennon said swiftly after that one that the centre-back position was an area the club would “probably look to bring someone in” [Glasgow Times].

Surprise, surprise. Here we are in February after the window has closed and we have absolutely nobody in the door. Nobody to replace the crocked Jullien, who could easily be out for the vast majority of the season now.

Of course, early January wasn’t the only time Lennon hinted at the need for reinforcements. He also said towards the end of the month that the club were “looking to bring players in”, and that “a number of positions” were being looked at. The necessity being both a centre-back and a right-back of course given recent losses [BT Sport].

Celtic would sign Jonjoe Kenny on-loan from Everton to solve the latter problem. However, we had our issues at the heart of the defence. Without Jullien, Celtic only have Kris Ajer and Stephen Welsh as natural and reliable options. Nir Bitton and Shane Duffy have proven to be problematic on the pitch this season.

With Ajer likely off in the summer too, this was a great opportunity. A chance for Celtic to find a centre-back that could help build a partnership with Welsh ahead of next summer’s Champions League qualifiers.

Celtic and Lennon needed a new centre-back in the door

We were clearly in the market for one. Celtic came close to signing Preston North End centre-back Ben Davies before his move to Liverpool [Daily Record]. But what’s ludicrous about that whole saga is that there were clearly no alternatives on the agenda.

It’s a grim sign when the club fails to strengthen in a position the manager has openly urged action on. A sign that either the manager isn’t being backed anymore, or that Celtic’s lazy scouting/transfer policy remains in place. The fact we were going for Davies suggests it’s the worrying latter.

That there were no names linked with the club after the Davies deal fell through tells its own story. It shows the club were resigned to not bringing another centre-back in a lot earlier than we would’ve liked to believe.

Celtic wanted to sign Ben Davies but Liverpool swooped in / (Photo by Kevin Barnes – CameraSport via Getty Images)

Earlier on today, we took a pop at how we dealt with the right-back situation last month. That was another shambles. Another slap in the face to a support that would’ve liked to see at least a modicum of strengthening occur at their club.

Peter Lawwell once said that we go into every transfer window looking to come out of it stronger [Scottish Sun]. If that’s the case, what’s his excuse for failing to sign the centre-back his manager was going on about? What’s the excuse for more or less selling two right-backs and leaving us with just a temporary loan player as our only option?

January was handled in an appropriate fashion when you look at our season as a whole – lazy and uninspiring, with a result that also typifies our campaign – sheer incompetent failure.

In other news, we take a look at how Celtic will need to perform to get the three points against St Mirren tomorrow.