Celtic captain Scott Brown's "nuisance" value written off by ex-Bhoys striker

By Euan Davidson

December 15, 2020

Charlie Nicholas is sitting there and thinking “Scott Brown? Not for me, Jeff”.

In his Scottish Daily Express column (print edition, 15/12, page 63), the ex-Bhoys striker claimed that the Celtic captain’s role had diminished over the last season and a half, and that Neil Lennon should stick with his squad shake-up.

In an occasional agreeable moment from the former Sky Sports pundit (Herald), Nicholas made some interesting comments about team selection, Hearts’ form and foremost, what Brown brings to the team.

He said:

“I accept Brown is captain and Callum McGregor does not have his personality, but his legs aren’t there any more.

“He no longer has a big influence on the team. In the huge games over the last 18 months – Aberdeen and Hibs away, the Old Firm and Euro ties – it’s been about his nuisance value, not what he does on the ball. His role diminished when Celtic scrapped Brendan Rodgers’ style. He’s a spoiler and that carries little relevance.”

Charlie Nicholas and Jeff Stelling at Paradise / (Photo by Ross Brownlee/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Who had ‘Charlie Nicholas gets it 100% correct’ on their 2020 Bingo sheet?

In today’s Scottish Daily Express, the former Arsenal striker continued:

“He’s still a big personality and he always gives 100% – but Celtic are not going to miss him if he doesn’t play.

“He remains a figurehead and should lift the cup – if they win. But Lenny has to go with players in form, like Turnbull, Soro, Hazard and Moi Elyounoussi.

“Do I understand loyalty? Of course. I’d have liked it a bit more as a player. But it’s never been the fabric of successful teams. It’s the ones who perform who stay.

“I know Hearts are in form but I still expect Celtic to win. And Lenny should continue with his shake-up by going for guys playing without fear.

“Soro, Turnbull and Hazard have given the team energy.”


Broony in training / (Photo by Craig Foy/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Broony on the rocks

“Scott Brown, Scott Brown, he’s the leader of the Celtic”, Johnny Mac and the Faithful once sang. They were right.

Broony has given us everything in the Green and White, and yes, should Celtic lift the Scottish Cup next week, it should be our captain doing the honours.

But Charlie Nicholas – and I can’t emphasise how weird it feels typing this – is right. Soro and Turnbull have given the Celtic midfield zip and confidence. If anything, Soro has played a lot like how Scott Brown used to.

So, we need Scott Brown’s attributes, but not necessarily the man himself.

As an ex-Hibs player, he’d no doubt be 100% committed to stopping the Jam Tarts getting anywhere near the trophy. To let them interrupt the historic Quadruple Treble would be unpalatable to our captain.

However, if we do use him, it should probably be in a cameo role. He’s already played a considerable 1800 minutes for the Bhoys this season (Transfermarkt), but he slows the tempo in midfield. Celtic’s last two games haven’t featured our captain, and we’ve won both.

It doesn’t seem like a huge coincidence.

A global epidemic has seen us collectively spend a year indoors. We can’t get to matches. A documentary about people who own Tigers was a cultural landmark. 2020’s been weird.

But few would’ve thought it would get to ‘Charlie Nicholas is right’ levels. Truly, we are living in strange times.