New Celtic manager must sort out long-term Parkhead squad issue

By David Walton

March 15, 2021

When the new Celtic manager walks in the door, it’s fair to say he’s going to have a list of pressing concerns as long as London Road.

What will he do regarding the long-term future of Scott Brown? How will he sort out the defensive crisis with Celtic set to be three players down in the position? The same goes for the right-back situation? How will he replace our best players who look all but set to leave us this month?

All of these are major concerns, and they’re only some of the on-field concerns. Yet, there’s one important matter that appears to have been neglected over the last four years in particular.

Celtic have seldom bothered to recruit left-wingers in recent years. Not since the signing of Scott Sinclair have we managed a successful one. Yet, since the Englishman’s major dip in form after his second season, Celtic have never adequately replaced them.

Oh there have been some pretenders. Daniel Arzani came and initially looked like competition. The likes of Patrick Roberts and Lewis Morgan were able to play there too, but the former favoured the right side whilst the latter was injury-prone.

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Neil Lennon looked to have found an answer at the beginning of last season. Mikey Johnston had a fine first six months in which he managed 12 direct goal contributions in 22 games [Transfermarkt].

Lennon would also recruit Mohamed Elyounoussi from Southampton on loan on two occasions. But whilst Mikey suffered a nasty ACL tear, Elyounussi just hasn’t stepped up how we would’ve envisioned.

New manager needs to sort Celtic wing problem

Moi looks set to leave for his parent club in the summer. That will leave Celtic with only Mikey available to play in the position.

Granted, this at times hasn’t been too much of a problem when Celtic have gone with a 3-5-2. Greg Taylor has shown he’s a capable wing-back if necessary. But Celtic are all about playing with wingers and stretching defences.

Yet since Sinclair’s second season, we haven’t truly had a player who’s shone there. Certainly not over the course of a full campaign.

Celtic lack cover down both flanks, but the left-wing is a major issue for us. How many goals are we seeing coming from that position? If it isn’t the odd Taylor cross then it isn’t anything.

Mikey Johnston will be Celtic’s only available left-winger next season / (Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group via Getty Images)

When Celtic work it down the left, they’re not giving it to players with quick feet. Instead it’s either Taylor or Diego Laxalt who immediately look to cross the ball in. We need some variation, and a skillful left-winger would do the trick.

With James Forrest out, Celtic have suffered badly for width. Our front-line remains too slow, and a pacey, experienced left-winger with an end product would make a big difference.

Just another requirement for the new manager in the summer then.

In other news, the reported reason for Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United departure may make him unsuitable for Celtic.