Celtic hero John Hartson has stated that he’s getting concerned about the club’s lack of set-piece takers.
Leigh Griffiths scored a fine free-kick against Hamilton several weeks ago. Since then, however, the Hoops haven’t even looked threatening from them.
The Welshman was part of a Gordon Strachan side that had Shinsuke Nakamura rattling home free-kicks for fun. It’s been a long time since Celtic had a player of that calibre over their set-pieces, however.
Hartson spoke to the Evening Times in his weekly column, and touched on how poor Celtic have been from the dead-ball.
“The Celtic team I played in were great at free-kicks. We had Alan Thompson, who was superb, Henrik Larsson and Stan Petrov.
“On Sunday, Olivier Ntcham was given two goes, both pretty central and a good distance outside the box, and twice he failed to get the ball over the Hibs wall.
“Within ten seconds of the second effort, Hibs had made it 2-0. Good grief.”
The dead-ball concern
This has been an issue raised by Celtic supporters for nearly two years. The Hoops just don’t have a high-quality dead-ball taker. 65 goals this season, and just one was direct from a set-piece.
In the past, even the likes of Kris Commons and Charlie Mulgrew were decent enough for a cross. Now, Celtic have Ntcham over them generally, and he can barely ever beat the first-man.
Celtic have only scored one goal direct from a corner this season. That came when Filip Benkovic powerfully headed home against Hearts. There’s a strong lack of threat in dead-ball situations, and it’s been evident all season.
Griffiths is by far the best at the club. Unfortunately, however, he’s currently unavailable and isn’t particularly consistent on them either.
It’s a shame. Celtic have so many attacking threats in the box from set-pieces. The likes of Benkovic, Jozo Simunovic, Dedryck Boyata, and Odsonne Edouard are huge targets to hit. Still, however, Celtic continue to look as though they lack belief with their crossing.
It’s most likely not a situation that Brendan Rodgers will be too quick to try and resolve. He’ll be prioritising adding some strength in depth before anything else.
It does, however, still rankle with the supporters. Big John clearly being one of them.