Stubbs believes this tweak could've made Shane Duffy a Celtic success

By David Walton

February 28, 2021

Alan Stubbs believes one tactical tweak could’ve seen Celtic get the best out of Shane Duffy.

Duffy’s spell at Parkhead couldn’t have gone any more disastrously. The big Irish international has made 25 appearances for the Hoops and it’s a figure that would suggest it’s been a productive campaign [Transfermarkt]. But the truth is, it’s been anything but.

The on-loan Brighton centre-back has struggled as part of both a back three and a back four. Despite playing alongside the likes of Kris Ajer and Christopher Jullien, a slow start at Parkhead has blown up incredibly. Duffy has gone on to make a host of basic errors involving his positioning, distribution, and clumsiness.

But for Stubbs, it didn’t have to be this way. The former Celtic centre-back has claimed that Duffy could’ve been a big success in Glasgow if Neil Lennon played a different formation.

As quoted by the Herald, Stubbs said: “He’d have wanted to play really well and for the season to have ended so much better than it has done. But it hasn’t and I don’t believe the instability of changing from week to week – from a back three to a four or a five – has helped him.

“Shane would have been at his best in a five. If you’d played Christopher Jullien and Kristoffer Ajer on either side of him you’d have a decent three plus a couple of wing-backs but injuries also prevented that from happening.

“Unfortunately, Jullien has been injury-prone ever since he joined and now he’s potentially out until Christmas. Ajer looks as though he might leave in the summer and it wouldn’t surprise me if Celtic had a completely new back four next season.”

Shane Duffy was never the right fit for Celtic; we were all fooled from the start

Firstly, let’s not pretend many of us were left fuming with Duffy’s arrival. It looked a real coup when we brought the Ireland veteran up the road on a temporary spell. In fact, we were all left hoping we could arrange a permanent move this summer.

But the truth is we were all fooled from the start. Duffy’s success playing deep for Brighton didn’t transfer well enough to Celtic Park. Playing in a higher line seemed to confuse the centre-back. He’s also often been caught out for making rash decisions and a lack of pace.

When he signed, Ireland manager Stephen Kenny was excited at the prospect of Duffy learning to play in a higher line [Scottish Sun]. But the truth is, he simply doesn’t have the attributes for it. That’s been shown this term.

Shane Duffy’s Celtic spell has been a disaster / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Stubbs may make a good point in talking about a defensive five. However, are Celtic ever truly going to go with five at the back in the Premiership? Even in a derby match at Ibrox we would be saying it’s too pessimistic. Celtic need more bodies forward domestically to break through the low blocks teams set up to play against us with.

Yes, Duffy may have looked better in a back five. I would suggest this is simply because most of his mistakes would’ve gone unpunished due to Ajer and Jullien having the pace needed to track back.

But that’s a defensive set-up the Celtic supporters would never have allowed for this season. It may have made Duffy look a better player, but we would’ve been left even more stagnant in the final third.

In other news, two Celtic loanees went head-to-head yesterday in an intriguing clash.