Celtic manager Neil Lennon has admitted that new bhoy Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo wasn’t himself last week.
The Hoops left-back has been struggling to win over sections of the supporters since his move from Rapid Vienna. He’s seen by many to be the potential replacement for Kieran Tierney. At the moment, however, we’ve still to see Boli have a consistent run of good form.
He’s only played four competitive matches, and has come off injured in two of them. One of those was last week’s 5-0 rout over Nomme Kalju. Boli struggled to find a team-mate with his passing, and generally looked shaky on the ball.
And Lennon has admitted in the Daily Record that the display isn’t the true nature of how Boli can perform. Lenny confirmed he wasn’t himself last week, and praised him for his display in the 2-0 win in Estonia on Tuesday night.
“He was good in Tallinn. Boli was a lot stronger. He looked really off it last week and I don’t know whether that was down to the virus or not. He was more like himself offensively and defensively. His fitness levels were good and it was a much more rounded performance from him.
“We’re only talking a couple of weeks in a new country and people are expecting them to hit the ground running.
“But the more games he gets under his belt, the more au fait he gets with life and the training, the better he will get.”
Lennon will know just how good Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo can be
It’s nice to hear Lenny come out and say that Boli wasn’t up to par last week. He clearly underperformed in the 5-0 win over Kalju, but there’s a real good chance that was down to him feeling ill.
Tuesday night was a lot more like it. Sure, there wasn’t much in the way of an attacking threat from Boli. But at the end of the day, he was a lot more composed on the ball, and found his man a lot easier. These small steps are important for his confidence.
The Belgian will be looking to build on that display this Saturday when Celtic host St Johnstone in the Premiership opener. It’s a great chance for Boli to strut his stuff down the left and show that he’s a useful attacking outlet.
There’s clearly a good player in the left-back. A bit of confidence and a run of games will most certainly do him no harm. Just as important as that, however, is staying injury-free in the coming weeks.
But Boli looked a lot more comfortable in Tallinn. He wasn’t so careless on the ball, and that’s important for us as we can’t afford to have defenders who give the ball away frequently. The left-back proved he can be trusted in Estonia, and that was another fine bonus for Lennon.
Hopefully, Boli’s form continues heading into the domestic campaign. If he can build on his outing in the 2-0 Estonia success, Celtic will be onto a winner.