In defence of Ryan Christie as Celtic criticism continues

By Euan Davidson

January 21, 2021

Celtic man Ryan Christie can go missing in games.

Last night, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that the former Aberdeen man was even playing. On a grim night in general for Celtic supporters, Christie became an easy target.

He never really looked like scoring, but that’s not his primary job. With much of our play bypassing the midfield altogether, there wasn’t a whole lot the Invernesian could do.

According to stat aggregators WhoScored?, Christie was worth a 6.9 rating. He made 4 tackles, passed the ball 50 times and had 68 touches, only one of which yielded a shot on goal.

He wasn’t outstanding, that’s for sure. But given the reaction to his performance online, you’d think he’d purposefully scored own goals, or battered the ref.

Every week, there seems to be an incredible overreaction to his performances, when he doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary.

Thing is though, his “ordinary” is good. He’s combined really well with David Turnbull since December, creating chances or taking his own, like in the Scottish Cup Final (BBC). Often this season, he’s filled in on the right, an unfamiliar position for a player who prefers the middle.

When the attacking midfielder is good, he’s very good. He scores outrageous goals, or vigilantly creates opportunities for others. Only last season, he scored 11 and assisted the same amount in the league. That’s 22 goal involvements in 24 games (Transfermarkt).

His output, frankly, is remarkable. So why all the criticism?

David Turnbull and Ryan Christie have been lethal in spells together / (Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Celtic man Ryan Christie deleted Twitter, still pilloried online

In 2019, Ryan Christie chose to block out the noise on social media.

His assists and impressive goalscoring exploits have seen him linked to a host of top clubs. Yet, every time a rumour surfaces, he’s criticised relentlessly online. To me, that seems harsh.

The main criticisms seem to be that he runs around aimlessly. That’s arguable when Celtic aren’t doing well; his movement can be perplexing.

However, when we’re in attacking situations, his divergent runs can distract defenders. He’s an intelligent player, aiming to find pockets of space beyond the attention of defenders.

On the ball, he makes the most dribbles of anyone in the squad. Inevitably, he’ll run up blind allies some of the time, but that’s the nature of someone who plays in his position. Not every dribble Messi makes is successful.

Another criticism is that he shows no desire to win the ball when he’s out of possession. Yet, he regularly averages 2 tackles a game (WhoScored?).

That’s more than any of our defenders, apart from Diego Laxalt. He’s clearly a believer in defending from the front, showing real energy to get to opposition ball-carriers and pressure them off the ball.

Ryan Christie struggled in the snow last night / (Photo by Alan Harvey/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Celtic man Ryan Christie isn’t without fault, but criticism goes too far

Of course, Ryan Christie isn’t perfect. His numbers this year haven’t hit previous heights, I accept that.

But in the Celtic squad, who’s actually come out of this season so far with some credit? Soro, Turnbull, yes. Ajer, arguably? Maybe.

The list of players who have impressed for Celtic in 20-21 is very slim. Still, Christie has tried his best in trying circumstances. He’s had to self-isolate, his manager thinks he’s a right-winger, and he’s put enormous pressure on himself with his Scotland heroics.

There’s so much to criticise at Celtic this season. I’m not saying you’re not allowed to have a go at Ryan Christie, that’s your prerogative if you’re not a fan of his.

All I’m suggesting is that maybe it’s a little overboard.