Celtic shamefully surrendered the Scottish Premiership title this afternoon with a 0-0 draw vs Dundee United at Tannadice.
Despite bossing the game for the most part and creating a host of opportunities, we were left to rue some dismal finishing in what was a grim afternoon on Tayside.
Here, we take a look at three things we learned from this afternoon’s encounter:
1. Profligacy proves costly
In recent weeks, Celtic have come in for major criticism for not being creative. Indeed, recent displays against the likes of Aberdeen and Ross County have highly disappointed. Especially when it comes to goalmouth action.
That’s not something you could aim at the Hoops this afternoon. Celtic dominated United. They had a great base in what was both a combative and energetic midfield. This led to a host of opportunities. By half-time, Celtic had mustered 17 efforts at goal.
This came from a variety of good openings. Whether it be deliveries from Diego Laxalt/Jonjoe Kenny, close combination play outside the penalty area, or simply long-range efforts at goal. Utd’s Benjamin Siegrist had plenty to do.
And, unfortunately, that’s where Celtic have been let down this afternoon. Profligacy proved far too costly and on a game where we had our creative spark on show. A potential worry for John Kennedy as he looks ahead to the final few weeks of the season.
2. David Turnbull is irreplaceable
So much of Celtic’s creativity came due to the ball-control and passing range of David Turnbull. Even this early on, the former Motherwell man is now irreplaceable in this Celtic team.
David was the standout of the midfield today. Even more impressive to say that considering he was featuring alongside the likes of Scott Brown, Callum McGregor, and Ryan Christie. But his ability to turn defenders and keep constant control of possession was extremely demoralising for Utd.
An incredible amount of space opened up for team-mates largely down to the movements and passes he was making. Even whe he was hounded by opposition midfielders and defenders, Turnbull always seems to know the decision to make in order to create space.
When you take him out of the team, you lose his all-round ability. Nobody in our squad can replace what Turnbull brings to the party. That’s largely why we were so passive in the middle of the pitch throughout the first half of the season. It’s why we went to Pittodrie, Easter Road, and Tannadice and struggled to dominate games between August and December.
Today he was everywhere. Turnbull is becoming a presence, and to say he’s now undroppable is probably an understatement. Why he was taken off? Anybody’s guess.
3. Soro won’t start against Rangers; Brown already a Kennedy favourite
John Kennedy has now been in charge of two Celtic games. In both of them, he hasn’t been able to see past captain Scott Brown.
It’s not overly-controversial. Brown coming back into the team at the expense of Ismaila Soro could probably have been predicted. Especially considering how close Kennedy will be with the current captain given their extensive working relationship.
Even so, Ismaila Soro was dominant at Ibrox back in December. Rangers struggled to cope with him setting the high press and being a constant aggravator in the middle of the pitch. That’s a far cry from how Broony performed in the October derby as he was run over by the legs our rivals have in the middle of the park these days.
But it’s extremely difficult to see Kennedy swaying from starting Brown against Rangers. It wouldn’t make sense for him to start the Celtic legend only for the interim boss to switch to Soro in a seemingly random switch next week.
Kennedy clearly sees that defensive-midfield spot as Brown’s. That then means it’s down to Soro to win it back and earn his place. How he does that is anyone’s guess, but a start against Rangers in two weeks looks fanciful to say the least.