Levein bigs up Duffy qualities but says he "doesn't fit" at Celtic

By David Walton

December 3, 2020

Former Scotland and Hearts manager Craig Levein has provided a glowing reference of Shane Duffy’s abilities, but says that he ultimately doesn’t fit in at Celtic.

Duffy was Celtic’s big high-profile summer signing. Even though Vasilis Barkas and Albian Ajeti arrived in big-money moves, there was massive excitement over the Brighton man’s season-long loan deal being completed. He was the man who was supposed to stop Celtic from being bullied by physical centre-forwards.

Things couldn’t have taken a more nightmarish turn since then. A string of individual errors from Shane against the likes of Rangers, Aberdeen, Lille, and Sparta Prague to name a few have left him on the outside looking in.

And Levein believes that this is all down to Duffy simply defending in a different style to what he’s used to.

As quoted by Brighton-based outlet Sussex Express, Sportsound regular Levein said: “Shane Duffy is a really, really good player.

“But he played in a Brighton team that defended deep. Celtic’s defence are always going to be close to the halfway line. Celtic’s centre-backs have to be able to run. They have to be quick. Shane Duffy doesn’t fit what Celtic do.

“He’s very good, but it doesn’t make sense to me.”

Duffy’s having more problems than just his pace

I’m not one to agree with Levein often, but he’s on the money for the most part here.

Duffy made his name at Brighton defending deep and for the most part in his own 18-yard box. He’s dealt with the likes of Sergio Aguero, Sadio Mane, and Anthony Martial to name a few of his opponents over the years. This isn’t a totally inept footballer we’re talking about. There’s a reason for why Scottish Premiership strikers are causing him a problem.

It’s clear that Duffy hasn’t often had to deal with a defensive line about 30 yards in front of his own goal. He’s used to operating deeper than that, and that’s why the likes of Kevin Nisbet/Sam Cosgrove/Alfredo Morelos have easily gotten in behind him in recent domestic fixtures.

Celtic centre-back Shane Duffy has had a tough time of it (Photo by Mike Egerton – Pool/Getty Images)

But it appears his confidence has been rocked so much that even his strongest traits have been affected. Make no mistake, there have been plenty of Duffy mistakes in and around his own penalty area since he signed for the Hoops in the summer.

Against Rangers, he was poor for both goals whilst defending in his own box, whilst he was far too easily done by Scott Wright when we were sitting deep at Pittodrie. He hasn’t been perfect in that sense either.

His positioning at times has been extremely concerning, whilst the timing of his runs have been so under-par regardless of how deep he’s been defending. I just pray he manages to turn this around, because I want nothing more than for Shane to be a big success here. There’s so much work to do in that regard.

In other news, Celtic will have no naturally-suited player in a certain position tonight.