For the sake of argument: our picks for maligned Celtic 20-21 awards
Listen, we know how tone deaf it is for Celtic to have End of Year awards after this season.
With sponsors to keep happy, it’s a little bit like picking a Zeppelin Engineer of the Year after the Hindenburg Disaster. But inevitably, it has to happen. It’s not like it’d be the first time you’ve taken part in a vote where you didn’t necessarily love the candidates, surely.
With the Scottish Government elections coming up on May 6th, it’s voting fever just now. Maybe you live in a constituency where you don’t really want to vote for any of the parties. Yet, you have to, you’ve got a sense of democratic duty. People died to give us the vote, you know.
So, while you’re already considering that ballot, there’s another one to get out of the way [Celtic FC]. Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, you had to pick a Player of the Year, Goal of the Year and Young Player of the Year after the 20-21 season. The candidates are all… Celtic-related. There are some good cases to be made, even.
Let’s take this category by category, and I’ll tell you my picks for each gong.
Celtic Player of the Year: David Turnbull
David Turnbull only really got going in the winter, but his impact has been massive. It’s genuinely worrisome to imagine how far worse-off we’d be if the ex-Motherwell midfielder hadn’t started getting games in 20-21. More than once, he’s salvaged results for us in matches that, admittedly, should’ve been straight-forward.
His goals, assists and overall contributions have been pretty incredible [Transfermarkt]. Even in dreadful team performances, Turnbull has looked head and shoulders above some of his teammates, and at just 21, his potential is frightening. Blessed with an excellent reading of the game, field of vision and technique, he might’ve played fewer matches than his rivals for Player of the Year.
But if you ask me, there’s only one real choice here.
Goal of the Season: Ismaila Soro v Dundee United
Is this bias because we at 67 Hail Hail were always right about Ivorian midfielder Ismaila Soro? It’s – quite literally – impossible to say.
In a season oddly lacking in wins, you’ve got to take them where you can. In this case, seeing Soro absolutely leather the ball into the net in a win against Dundee United is a huge victory [SPFL]. A big W. It got us going in a game we needed to win to build some kind of momentum in the league, before it really, truly looked over for us.
While Soro hasn’t had the opportunities to really establish himself as a Player of the Year, or even Young Player of the Year, you could argue, he deserves some shine for his heroics in 20-21, even if so few others don’t. This absolute peach of a goal, his first for the Bhoys, should win this much-coveted (…) award.
Side note: nominating Edouard’s goal against Sparta Prague is absolutely shocking. It’d be like picking the best-looking chandelier on the Titanic. Baffling.
Young Celtic Player of the Year: Stephen Welsh
Stephen Welsh is by no means the finished article, nor anywhere close.
Yet, the Academy graduate has helped to just about fix a defence that two international players failed to. Both Shane Duffy and Nir Bitton have been a disaster at centre-back, when filling in for the injured Christopher Jullien. Welsh, though, helped Celtic to a recent run of 5 games with only 1 goal conceded.
Playing next to Kristoffer Ajer, himself a good shout for either award, Welsh has established himself as a tidy passer of the ball, combative aerial presence and, dare we say “no-nonsense” centre-back who seems to calm those around him. Yes, he still has a heck of a lot to learn from a positional sense, and he’s by no means a nailed-on regular in a Best XI, but Welsh’s exploits have been considerably impressive.
Whether he kicks on from this year and adds to the experience he’s garnered in 20-21 is yet to be seen. But he’s a Celtic fan who’s waited patiently for opportunities. In a season with few highlights, we can at least say that we got a promising centre-back out of this campaign.