Lennon tells media that Celtic star Jullien deserves more recognition

By David Walton

December 20, 2020

Celtic boss Neil Lennon has called out the media for failing to recognise Chris Jullien’s dominance enough.

Much has been made in the past of the Frenchman’s failure to deal with powerful strikers. The likes of Lyndon Dykes, Sam Cosgrove, and Nicke Kabamba have given him some tough games in recent months.

You could argue that the arrival of Shane Duffy was due to Jullien’s struggles with a certain build of striker. The idea was that Duffy would be able to handle some of the more physical challenges in Scottish football.

But Lennon has bigged up Jullien for being more reliable in dealing with the likes of Kabamba these days. And better yet, he’s had a pop as he claims nobody ever talks about him when he plays well.

As quoted by the Glasgow Times, Lennon said: “I thought he had a great game on Sunday, I thought it was his best game of the season. People were asking me about him when (Nicke) Kabamba gave him a hard time at Rugby Park, and (Lyndon) Dykes gave him a problem too.

“He turned that around, we beat Livingston 4-0 and then on Sunday he handled Kabamba very, very well. But no one asks you about that after the game, it’s all about the negatives, but for me that was a real positive and it spoke volumes for his personality and his character.

“I like that in him, he’s got that bite in him, he’s a big player for us. I’m hoping he makes a massive contribution again come Sunday.”

Celtic star still to prove he can do it consistently

In fairness to Jullien, he has improved in that aspect to an extent. When you go back to that 2-0 loss to Livi in October 2019, it was a shocked from Jullien. Dykes roughed him up and it looked like the Celtic man couldn’t deal with it.

He’s had his problems since too. Jullien was extremely poor against Killie’s Kabamba back in August. Hamilton’s Marios Ogboe has also gotten the better of him on a couple of occasions too. He really has struggled at times against certain centre-forwards.

But Lennon also makes a great point. You never hear much in the media about Jullien having a great game. He has plenty of them too. You only have to look at how he dealt with Kabamba last week.

Celtic star Christopher Jullien / (Photo by Craig Foy/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Celtic bossed Kilmarnock 2-0 whilst Conor Hazard barely had a save to make. The Killie forward tried to outmuscle Jullien but found himself losing so many of the aerial duels against the towering Frenchman. WhoScored clocked Jullien as winning six aerial battles against Kilmarnock. A fine stat.

Of course, in fairness, Jullien’s yet to really do it consistently. I’m still not overly-convinced he can handle the rough stuff on a consistent basis. Today that will be tested when Celtic face Hearts at Hampden in the Scottish Cup final.

Jullien will be up against Liam Boyce and Steven Naismith. Whilst neither man is of the big and baulky variety that has previously gotten the better of Jullien, they’re still aggressive. They’ll still look to target the Celtic man and will look to get fired into him with challenges and aerial battles. Hopefully, our man can show that he’s learned his lesson here.

In other news, Lennon’s exciting comment suggests that a Celtic youngster is going to start today.