Christopher Jullien's return will be a boost; but it won't fix Celtic's deeper problems
So it looks all but certain that Chris Jullien will be fit and available to face Sparta Prague tomorrow night.
Neil Lennon confirmed on Celtic TV that he would be in contention to play in this week’s fixtures against Prague and Ross County. The Scottish Sun and the Daily Mail have also both reported that the player will be available for the upcoming fixtures.
This is undoubtedly a boost. Jullien hasn’t played since September’s 5-0 win at Ross County after being out with a back issue.
His return undoubtedly adds a layer of technical ability to the back-line. Jullien can be effective in the air when he’s on his game, and is equally as effective on the ball. He also gives Celtic the option to go long with diagonals or long through balls, such is his ability when it comes to passing it out from the back.
But, at the same time, it feels as though this is being treated as some sort of turning point for Celtic. As if Jullien’s return is going to be the spark we need to turn our season around.
Forgive me, but wasn’t the same being said about Odsonne Edouard, Ryan Christie, Nir Bitton, and Hatem Elhamed in recent weeks after their Covid setbacks?
Celtic need more to turn around their season
We can’t just keep pointing to the injury list after another poor result and pick another player that we can pretend will single-handedly turn things around. It doesn’t work like that, and Jullien simply won’t fix the deeper problems at Celtic.
His return won’t automatically inject a layer of confidence or inspiration into the dressing room, and it still won’t affect Lennon’s decision-making on the sidelines. It won’t stop him from playing Scott Brown regularly or making a mess of his team shape.
It’s also key to remember that we signed Shane Duffy because Jullien had a poor start to the season. Previous disappointing performances against physical centre-forwards forced us into the market, with his most recent being against Kilmarnock’s Nicke Kabamba at the start of the season.
This isn’t a piece looking to call out Jullien – I think he’s a fine player and will obviously add something to Celtic’s backline. But let’s not pretend this is anything more than it is. It’s the return of a bit of added depth at centre-back, not a shining star that’s going to single-handedly turn our season around.
If Lennon thinks that Jullien’s return alone is going to spark some sort of instant turn in fortunes for him, then that’s hopeful at best.
There are bigger problems at the club than the Frenchman simply being absent for a few months. A boost? Yes. A turning point? A stretch too far.