Defeat to Salzburg showed one real positive

By David Walton

October 7, 2018

Despite the poor defeat to Red Bull Salzburg on Thursday night, Youssouf Mulumbu’s performance was a real saving grace.

With Scott Brown out with injury, Celtic had a gaping hole in their side. The captain is the anchor in the Hoops’ midfield, and there were no real standouts as to who could do the job.

As expected, Brendan Rodgers threw Mulumbu into his first European match with the Parkhead club. Whilst many Celtic supporters rate the midfielder even this early on, his performance will have surprised many.

Youssouf Mulumbu has impressed in both of his matches for Celtic (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Personally, I feel that Mulumbu did the role that Brown thinks he does in Europe, but to greater effect. He was dogged, consistently won the ball back, and barely put a foot wrong. Brown often misplaces passes and loses the ball too easily in Europe. On Thursday night, Mulumbu hardly did any of that.

In fact, it was Olivier Ntcham who was often guilty of making silly midfield errors in Austria. Alongside him, Mulumbu was a composed fgure who was giving everything he had.

The only thing that the former West Bromwich Albion midfielder was missing was his stamina. After the hour mark, it was clear that Mulumbu was far too tired to go on much longer. It was no real surprise when Rodgers decided enough was enough and hooked him for Ryan Christie on 78 minutes.

Some shift

In truth, the midfielder should’ve came off after an hour given how shattered he looked. He had given absolutely everything in a high-tempo European clash for an hour. Considering he only had one game of football under his belt before the match, that shows just how impressive the midfielder was.

When Celtic get Mulumbu up to speed, he’s clearly going to be a star. Signed in a summer of anger and frustration, supporters could’ve been forgiven for overlooking his signing.

The midfielder is proving that he’ll fight for everything at Celtic (Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus via Getty Images)

With star-striker Moussa Dembele having been sold, and fans still reeling from being knocked out of the Champions League, it was a tough move to get excited about. Even more impressive is the fact that Mulumbu has managed to stand-out despite losing both of the matches he’s been involved in.

But, so far, Mulumbu has shown that he could very well be a central figure at Parkhead. He’s more than likey going to take to the McDiarmid Park surface today to play his third game in a Celtic shirt against St Johnstone.

Another positive performance, and the likes of Ntcham may start to get concerned about his spot in the starting XI.