John Hartson issues passionate on-air call for Celtic to sign new defenders
John Hartson believes the main priority for Celtic this January has to be the acquisition of new defenders.
There has been an intense spotlight on the Celtic backline this season. That’s despite the fact the Hoops have conceded the same amount of goals in the league as rivals Rangers.
Some high-profile mistakes have proven costly both domestically and in Europe. But even though question marks still remain over the likes of Carl Starfelt and Cameron Carter-Vickers, there are signs of them starting to ease into their Parkhead roles.
Even so, Hartson appears to have had it with the backline as we head into the October international break. He’s been speaking on the Go Radio Football Show, and it’s fair to say he sent out a passionate call to Ange Postecoglou and the Celtic board to strengthen the defence in two months.
“This is the highest level. You’re playing for Celtic Football Club. Stand up and show you’re a top player. Otherwise, go and join a first or second division club if you’re at that level. You’ve got to perform.
“You’re playing in front of 60,000 people and they expect to win every week. Take your chances and defend strongly. If you’re not big enough as a character and good enough individually as a football player, you’re at the wrong place. Surely Ange can see that!.
“We need better defenders in January, we need better defenders to challenge. We can’t keep shipping goals in the fashion that we are. We won’t win anything this way.”
Celtic likely to persist with centre-backs they’ve already invested in
You can understand Hartson’s frustration here. Unlike other pundits, it comes from the heart and from a desire to see Celtic do well.
But the fact is that Celtic simply aren’t going to go out and splash more cash on centre-backs. Not when you consider that they’ve invested in Starfelt and Carter-Vickers. This is the project they’re going with, and they won’t throw it in the bin because of a few mistakes.
The partnership between the two new Celts is a fresh one. You have to understand that teething problems can be a symptom when you throw two new signings together as a partnership. Two players that have no prior relationship or knowledge of each other as a player.
Celtic won’t simply throw money continuously at the centre-back position. Come January we’ll have other concerns that need addressing. Another striker could be on the cards given how poor Albian Ajeti has been over the last two years.
As supporters, it’s time to back the centre-backs. Yes, defensive issues have persisted the more we’ve gotten into the campaign. But it’s still relatively early, and it’s easy to forget that the Starfelt/Carter-Vickers partnership was only thrown together last month.
It’s too early to go making rash decisions. And given how prudent Celtic like to be with their cash, don’t expect swift replacements in the door in two months.