It’s difficult not to feel a tad sympathetic to Oli Burke regarding his time at Parkhead.
The West Bromwich Albion man signed for Celtic on a six-month loan deal back in January. After he did, Brendan Rodgers was out bigging him up and talking about how he can be developed technically (Daily Mail). Burke had a promise from Rodgers, and fans were willing to see how this one went.
Yet, after a quick start to life at Parkhead, scoring three goals in his first seven league matches, Rodgers departed. Simply left him hanging in order to join Leicester and ditch his work on Burke. Now Burke was left to try and continue learning a lone-striker position that only Rodgers could see working for him.
Neil Lennon arrived, and Burke deserves real credit for his reaction. He seriously stepped up early on. The West Brom man was impressive in the games against Hearts and Hibernian in Lennon’s first two matches. He set-up the first goal of the Lennon era, and his energy at Easter Road was key to our success there too. They’re the matches which have rightly been labeled by many as the ones that set Lennon on his way. The matches that helped keep the treble treble on track.
Yes, Burke played his part, but he simply didn’t have the quality to stay consistent. He was dreadful in the 0-0 draw at home to Aberdeen just days later, and then went on to start just one of the next eight matches.
What also didn’t help the former Leipzig man was some costly misses at key moments in his Celtic career. When through on goal in his only start in those eight matches mentioned against St Mirren, Burke somehow sclaffed wide. He then racked up an even more shocking miss against Livingston at Parkhead, when he somehow poked wide from just yards out after rounding the goalkeeper.
Supporters had seen enough
Supporters then had enough at that stage. Burke had lost his confidence, and looked clumsy on the ball with moves breaking down under him.
He very quickly lost his place to Odsonne Edouard under Lennon. Big goals from Eddy against the likes of Hearts, Dundee, Rangers, and Aberdeen respectively didn’t help Burke. Neither did the form of Player of the Year James Forrest, who kept Burke on the bench when it came to the right-wing spot.
With Lennon trying to make his case for the job through results, Burke was never getting back in consistently. He did earn one final chance against Rangers at Ibrox, but another quiet display saw him fail to see another minute.
In the end, this was a loan spell that looked promising at the start. The partnership of Rodgers and Burke initially seemed exciting, but the former’s departure certainly didn’t help matters. After that, Burke struggled for confidence and ended up leaving the club unceremoniously.
Celtic and Burke likely won’t reunite again. But if they do, here’s hoping he’s much more consistent than he currently is.