Celtic have defensive "fragilities" to exploit, according to opposition boss

By Euan Davidson

January 30, 2021

Celtic face St. Mirren today at Paradise, and Jim Goodwin is in confident mood.

The Buddies’ manager pulled off an incredible 5-1 massacring of Dundee United on Wednesday [BBC]. Sitting in 7th with three games in hand on 6th place, it’s been a year of progress for Goodwin’s side.

They’ve recently added Eamonn Brophy [Not The Old Firm] to an exciting roster of attacking talent. Next up is Celtic at 3pm today, and Goodwin believes there are areas to exploit.

Goodwin told the Paisley Express:

“Celtic have got their own fragilities at the minute, they’ve been conceding far too many goals from their own point of view.

“It’s been well documented the amount of goals Celtic have conceded from set plays this year.

“We believe we’ve got the players to go and exploit those areas.”

Less of this, thanks / (Photo by Rob Casey/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Celtic defensive problems; still a huge issue

For Celtic, defending set-pieces has been a nightmare all season. Despite boasting the height of Duffy, Ajer, Jullien and Bitton, free kicks and corners have been crucial to our bad form.

In fact, 13 of the 18 goals Celtic have conceded this season have been from dead ball situations [Scottish Sun]. That’s absolutely brutal, yet it’s been a constant issue for a long time now.

Set pieces in general have been a problem area, either attacking or defending. Celtic so rarely score from corners, and that’s been true since Ronny Deila was manager (not to blame him specifically). We’d win more games if we could attack dead balls better.

On the Celtic defensive side, there’s almost a feeling of inevitability whenever the Bhoys concede a free kick or a corner. Most recently, Livingston took advantage of our inability to defend set pieces, and it’s also been our undoing against Hibs, Rangers, and countless others.

Perhaps the answer is a specialist coach. Liverpool were ridiculed for hiring a throw-in coach [Guardian], but if a club can afford it, why not bring in someone to address a specific need? Clearly, the current Celtic coaching staff aren’t able to co-ordinate a defence effectively.

Whoever takes the job after Neil Lennon will need to make this tactical priority #1. Goodwin is right – everyone knows Celtic have this problem. We’ve been given sufficient warning.