BBC Scotland pundit Michael Stewart has criticised Celtic defensive duo Christopher Jullien and Kristoffer Ajer for failing to deal with Rangers attacker Alfredo Morelos throughout Sunday’s defeat at Celtic Park, speaking on Sportscene (29/12).
As we know, the entire team performance against Steven Gerrard’s Ibrox was not up to scratch and the 2-1 loss is a damaging one.
Celtic supporters have been ruminating on the result since full-time, hoping that Neil Lennon and his coaches find answers to the glaring problems on display.
One of the big issues over the last two matches against Rangers has been Morelos’ ability to find himself with golden opportunities in front of goal.
Obviously he’s been missing those chances, but the frequency with which he is finding himself in dangerous situations is a real cause for concern.
Stewart picked up on it when analysing yesterday’s game, picking out a particular chance from a James Tavernier crossed ball in the first half when Rangers were in the ascendancy.
Speaking on Sunday’s edition of Sportscene, Stewart said: “This is really, really poor defending from Celtic. Jullien has got to recognise that Kristoffer Ajer is playing him (Morelos) onside and get in, in place, earlier.
“If Morelos plays that little ball into Joe Aribo then they’re getting a strike on target.
“Apart from obviously some bad misses and also what happens late in the game, he had Jullien and Ajer on toast.”
A harsh assessment?
As we pointed out yesterday, plenty of Celtic fans on social media actually thought that Jullien had a solid 90 minutes up against the Colombian 23-year-old.
Personally, it looked to me like the Frenchman was putting in a massive shift to help out Ajer, who looked a bit out of his depth on the occasion.
Regardless of who’s to blame, it’s undeniable that Celtic’s defensive unit failed to consistently deal with the threat that Rangers posed.
Sunday’s match does also bring to the fore the issue of Lennon’s defensive options, or lack of them.
Could we do with another quality centre-back at the club who can challenge for a starting spot alongside Jullien?
It’s surely something that club are looking at in the January transfer window. We need to find the right blend that can deal with Rangers in these big derby matches. Twice in December, we were found lacking.