Celtic may have made it four wins-in-a-row today, but Neil Lennon continued one particular stance today that can’t be left undiscussed.
When Ismaila Soro came off against St Mirren, many of us had this fear. We had major concerns that Scott Brown’s passage back into regular starting XIs had opened up again.
Off the bar, Brown has been anything but poor in recent weeks. In fact, he shone at Kilmarnock, played well enough at St Mirren, and was in good form today at McDiarmid Park. He’s been part of four consecutive victories, and any real criticism of his performance-levels in most of those games would be straw-clutching.
But this wasn’t supposed to be the plan. The idea was supposed to be that Soro was Brown’s successor. He had shown enough over December and January to suggest he deserved a prolonged run in the team. Yet there was always the fear that one poor performance would see Brown hauled back in permanently.
That St Mirren loss at Parkhead has proven to be Brown’s opening. Yet when Lennon dropped Soro for Kilmarnock he tried to state that it was down to fatigue. He stated that he “thought it best to give him a rest” at Rugby Park [The Scotsman].
That’s all well and good – so long as Soro was reintroduced against Motherwell or St Mirren in the next two games. He wasn’t. Not from the start anyway.
Celtic have their Brown successor; Lennon stance continues to halt his progress
In fact, in Brown’s poorer display against Motherwell last Saturday, Soro came on and put in a standout 20-minute cameo. Yet against St Mirren and today against St Johnstone he remained on the bench. Didn’t even get a single minute to his name [Transfermarkt].
This is clearly no longer a decision made in the best interests of Soro’s stamina. If he’s on the bench he’s ready to play.
This feels, and do call me cynical if you want, like opportunism. Like the manager has seen an opportunity to keep one of his favourites in the team again. How else could you justify the continued absence of Soro from starting line-ups once again?
Perhaps if Brown’s contract wasn’t up at the end of the season it could be understood further. But there’s no way that should be getting extended after the general level of performances he’s put in this year. We have to be looking at his replacement, and yet it feels as though Soro’s development is again being diluted so that Brown can get some more games.
Celtic have Aberdeen coming up on Wednesday night. Can you honestly see Lennon recalling Ivorian starlet Soro for that one? Not a chance. Not when Brown is available. Lennon has played him in the vast majority of big games this season, and that looks like it’s resuming.
It’s even more of a slap in the face when you consider that Soro has been one of the best players on the park against the likes of Lille and Rangers respectively. Lennon needs to reintroduce him back into the team ASAP. The last thing we need is a talent of his capabilities stagnating so Brown can get some token appearances.