As Celtic’s season from hell continues, there has been something evident about Jeremie Frimpong’s game this season.
Yes, the young Dutch right-back has been inconsistent. It looked as though he was getting back to last season’s form with his displays against the likes of Riga and Hibernian in the early stages of the campaign. However, over the course of Celtic’s brutal run of two wins in 12, Frimpong has been ineffective.
But it’s easy to see why. So much of Frimpong’s game is about bombing forward and getting on the overlap. However, given he’s a full-back, his number one priority is to be switched on defensively – something that isn’t always the case.
Remember, Jeremie was at fault for St Johnstone’s goal on Sunday when his switching off allowed Stevie May to ghost in down the left side and set up Chris Kane. It was a real blunder from the former Manchester City starlet.
But then again, this can all be sorted with one simple tweak to Frimpong’s position. It’s time to make him a right-winger.
Frimpong is a right-winger playing right-back
What the Celtic man needs is to have the defensive responsibility removed from him. We saw at the San Siro just how effective Jeremie can be when he’s being given the licence to go forward and take the game to the opposition. Milan didn’t know how to handle him for the first 20 minutes in particular.
However, there are still attributes to Frimpong’s game in the final third that need to improve. His final ball remains extremely poor, and the fact he only has three assists in 21 appearances proves just that.
As well as that, his shooting ability continues to disappoint when in good areas whilst he too often can take too long to deliver into the penalty area. These are all factors that Frimpong could do with focusing on without the burden of having to increase his one-v-one defending and positional awareness.
Moving Jeremie to a right-wing position gives us a good long-term replacement for James Forrest who has the potential to be a superstar. He’s shown against Milan and Lille what he can do going forward, and ensuring that he’s working on his end product in the final third should be his top priority. Because those are what his strengths should be.
This is a tweak that Lennon simply must make. Sure, it only leaves us with Hatem Elhamed as the only available right-back, but that’s something that can be sorted out in January if need be.
When Frimpong plays on the right side of a back four, he just looks like a player out of position. It’s as if Celtic have run out of defenders and have put a pacey wide-man in there instead. In other words, it just doesn’t play to Jeremie’s strengths.
Hopefully, Lennon gives this a go sooner rather than later.