John Kennedy didn’t please everyone when the starting XI came out for Dundee Utd vs Celtic this afternoon.
Indeed, the 0-0 stalemate finally confirmed what we had known for months – Celtic have lost their Premiership crown. Hoops fans have been left to rue decisions made both in the dugout and in the boardroom as a catastrophic campaign officially reaches its lowest ebb.
One of the only bright sparks of the campaign this season has been Ismaila Soro. The Ivorian tough-tackler has been a breath of fresh air and looks the sure-fire favourite to take Scott Brown’s shoes when he retires. However, in his two matches in charge, interim boss Kennedy has played Broony over the former Bnei Yehuda star.
It’s a decision that evidently frustrated Celtic supporters in the build-up to today’s game. Especially considering Brown had started the previous match against Aberdeen. Here, we take a look at what Kennedy said in the build-up to today’s game about the pair as he appeared to hint who was at the front of the pecking order.
As quoted by the Scottish Sun, Kennedy said: “He’s a good player to have for us and, in terms of inspiring him, there’s no better player than Scott Brown. Last week against Aberdeen Scott showed his experience, he showed his quality. He was a real leader out there.
“He was probably a bit quieter than he normally is vocally, but I thought he brought a real calmness – he showed his level, he showed the success he’s had and I thought that came through the way he played.
“Soro can certainly learn from that. Scott’s not getting any younger and in the longer term Soro’s one we hold in high esteem. We hope that he’s here for a long time.”
Kennedy appears to hint Brown is in the driving seat; what does Soro need to do?
Kennedy doesn’t outright claim who’s in the driving seat here. However, he talks about Soro’s prospects regarding learning from Brown and making a claim for the position in the longer term. That suggests that Broony, for now, is the man Kennedy will stick with.
It remains to be seen whether that changes after today. Not that Brown was particularly poor. In fact, he wasn’t even one of the worst players on the pitch. But he certainly didn’t manage to contribute with the same drive he showed against Aberdeen last week. The consistency was missing, and that’s something you could accuse of our captain all season.
In two weeks’ time, Celtic will play Rangers at Parkhead. It’s going to take a brave supporter to bet against Brown starting that one too. It’s worth bearing in mind that Soro didn’t get onto the pitch for a single minute this afternoon. That’s despite the fact we were chasing a goal.
Yet Soro is the one who has proven himself in that fixture this season. He was one of our dominant figures back in that impressive December performance at Ibrox. His aggression and energy in the midfield absolutely rocked Rangers. Compare that with Brown’s weak and lethargic display at Parkhead back in October – it tells its own story.
The natural choice would’ve been to start Soro on Sunday. As mentioned previously, it could be the case that today’s performance will lead to Kennedy switching things up for the derby. But for now it feels doubtful.
Soro has been doing plenty of patient waiting this season. It’s time for that to end. Unleash him against Rangers and let’s take the game to them, just as we did at Ibrox three months ago.