As he looks set to make a comeback in the near future, it really is time we all learned our lesson and stopped underrating the talent of Nir Bitton.
The Israeli international is back in training and looks like he could be called on for some of Celtic’s crucial upcoming fixtures against the likes of Aberdeen, Sparta Prague, Motherwell, and Hibernian respectively.
And whilst it feels like there’s a growing appreciation from everyone connected with the club over what he brings to the team, it’s long overdue as he looks to continue his superb win ratio under Neil Lennon. And I’ve been guilty of it just as much as anyone.
Since Lennon was appointed back in February 2019 for his second spell at the club, Bitton has played on 41 occasions. Throughout that run, Celtic have won an incredible 35 of them. How many defeats have been thrown in there? two.
Yup – two games out of 41 since Lennon was appointed has Bitton played and been on the end of a defeat. That means we’ve lost less than 5% of games he’s been involved in over the last 20 months. His win percentage in that period stands at a superb 85% (Transfermarkt).
That’s not even mentioning the fact that, in a season where the defence has been scrutinised consistently, he’s managed to help bag clean sheets in five of his six games this term. All six ended in wins of course.
Bitton simply always delivers for Lennon
Say what you will about the manager, but he certainly knows how to get a tune out of Bitton, who he brought to the club from Ashdod back in 2013. Since then, the Israeli has developed into one of our most composed and dominant centre-backs.
It’s difficult to know why he hasn’t got the recognition for such fine figures over the last two years or so. Perhaps his injury problems have gotten in the way of him getting the plaudits he’s deserved for his intermittent spells in the team.
Bitton has missed just under 30 games due to injury since Lennon came back to the club. But the truth is he seems to carry a winning formula with him. An ability to do his job with minimal fuss.
The fact his win percentage also includes a total of 14 European games shows that this knack of getting the job done isn’t restricted to domestic competition. Bitton has proven himself to be a reliable figure everywhere he goes.
It’s no surprise that our defence started to look more like a solid unit when he returned to the fold. His value at Parkhead simply cannot be ignored any longer, and Lennon must use him consistently from the moment he’s fit and ready to feature.
The stats suggest it’ll go a long way to helping us turn our fortunes around after a tough week for the club.