Craig Gordon’s season looked to be going well enough up until his best performance of the season.
It’s ironic, to say the least. Gordon produced simply stunning one-man show at Ibrox at the end of December. It was Celtic’s last fixture before the winter break, as they lost 1-0 to Rangers. It’s not unfair to suggest that without Gordon in between the sticks, however, it would’ve been much worse.
Nobody would’ve thought after that incredible display that it would’ve been Gordon’s final outing of the season either.
The first-half of the campaign, of course, had its troubles for the former Scotland number one. Gordon’s distribution continued to frustrate supporters, as he consistently showed a lack of improvement with his kicking. Too many simple mistakes were creeping into Gordon’s game.
It was perhaps summed up in the Europa League home clash against Red Bull Salzburg back in December. Gordon rolled the ball straight to Frederik Gulbrandsen, who slotted home and threatened to end our Europa League hopes. It was a sheer disaster.
It was also real shock to the system and a new low for Gordon. He did manage 17 clean sheets in his 32 outings, which was a positive return. But his distribution continued to a problem for Celtic when they tried to build from the back.
After his performance against Rangers in December, however, Brendan Rodgers decided to drop Gordon for Scott Bain. Supporters wondered whether it was a one-off when Bain kept a clean sheet against Airdrie at Celtic Park. Instead, however, Rodgers persisted with him.
Gordon had to watch Bain thrive
The fact Bain went on an incredible run of eight consecutive clean sheets didn’t help Gordon. His distribution was a notable improvement, and Gordon’s new place on the bench was permanent.
From there, he watched Bain go from strength to strength as Celtic’s new number one. From his terrific clean sheet run, to a positive display in Valencia during the Europa League last-32 tie – Bain solidified his place.
When Neil Lennon came back in, that initially could’ve provided Gordon with a chink of light. It didn’t. Lennon continued to persist with Bain in every single one of his 14 matches in charge.
Gordon picking up an untimely knee injury that seemed to keep him out for the rest of the season didn’t help. And now, he has a big decision on his hands.
But he now has the unenviable task of taking his place back off the impressive Bain. A goalkeeper who has his long-term future tied to Celtic and is nine years younger than Gordon. It won’t be easy, but he seems up to the task.
It’s going to be an interesting pre-season for sure in the goalkeeping department. It’s now or never for Gordon if he’s to secure his future at Parkhead.