Amidst all of the talking points surrounding Celtic at the moment, it’s easy to overlook the fact that Patryk Klimala appears to have seen his game-time dry up in recent weeks.
Klimala was a regular contributor throughout the early stages of the season. Lennon brought him on from the bench in seven of our first nine domestic matches of the campaign. Despite only bagging three goals in that period, his tenacity and hunger had fans wanting to see more of him.
Lennon then surprised everyone by giving him a start against Rangers in the first Glasgow derby of the season back on October 17th. It was a huge vote of confidence in Celtic’s £3.5million January signing (Scottish Sun).
Yet, Klimala was hooked after 67 minutes with Celtic 2-0 down, and after another 13-minute cameo against AC Milan, he hasn’t been seen since.
Of course, he has indeed been making the matchday squads consistently. He was on the bench in games against Aberdeen (x2), Lille, Sparta Prague, and Motherwell respectively. However, Lennon hasn’t shown the same urgency to throw Klimala on as he was showing at the start of the season.
Klimala must be patient – he’s nowhere near done here
When you drop down to fourth-choice striker, it comes with plenty of negative connotations. Yet, with Odsonne Edouard, Albian Ajeti, and Leigh Griffiths ahead of him in the pecking order, it’s imperative that Klimala remains patient.
So far the Pole has shown that he has what it takes to be a decent option coming off the bench. The goals he’s scored this season – against Hamilton, Ross County, and St Johnstone respectively – have been impressively taken.
However, at the same time, there now has to be an acknowledgment that he hasn’t batted his opportunity out of the park. He’s done well, but not well enough to guarantee him a spot ahead of the likes of Ajeti or Griffiths.
His lack of game-time over the last couple of weeks is symbolic of that fact. Yet Klimala simply must keep impressing the manager in training, because there will be games this season where Celtic are needing a hero from the bench to make an impact. When we can’t seem to find a breakthrough and are desperately looking for some quality in the final third. That’s when Klimala needs to make his mark.
You could say he finds himself in the position he did at the start of the season – on the bench and waiting for an opportunity. That’s true, but the difference now is that he has plenty of fans’ trust that he can come on and make an impact. Both ourselves and Neil Lennon will be more aware of the traits he can bring to proceedings.
That’s a step forward for Klimala at the very least, and there will be times when those traits are necessary.
Back in August, Tam McManus encouraged the Polish striker to hand in a transfer request because he wasn’t getting selected from the bench. But when you fast forward now, Klimala will know that he just has to be patient.
So he can’t look at his recent demotion to the bench as a major setback. He’s proved a point or two in what he’s shown over the last few months. Now, it’s time for him to take his game to the next level when Lennon next hands him his next opportunity.