Even a friendly showed where Postecoglou's biggest Celtic problem lies

By Euan Davidson

July 8, 2021

We’ve said that there’s no point reading too much into friendlies when it comes to Celtic. That we haven’t necessarily found the next Messi, that the youngsters we saw beat Sheffield Wednesday aren’t going to be automatic picks next season.

So on, and so forth.

But one thing is absolutely glaringly obvious, and has been for some time. When Anthony Ralston was given the nod to start yesterday, he looked uncomfortable. After 60 minutes, former Manchester United prospect Lee O’Connor came on. He was… well, fine. Unremarkable. Because – it can’t be said enough – this was a friendly.

Did either right-back fill you with confidence, though? Since Jeremie Frimpong left Celtic, we’ve been desperately undermanned. In fact, even when he was there, the back-ups weren’t exactly inspiring. Ralston and a half-fit Elhamed, who eventually left too, probably weren’t first-team calibre.

The less said about Jonjoe Kenny, the better.

So it’s very odd, then, that the focus has been so much on the opposite flank. Whether it’s Aaron Hickey, Josh Doig or someone else, there’s been an odd onus on a position where actually, we might be alright. Greg Taylor, Adam Montgomery and (whisper it) Boli Bolingoli are a solid rotation.

But there’s a whole side there, being neglected. We don’t know to what extent Celtic are working on shoring up the problem area, but it’s extremely concerning that George Baldock is the only real ‘target’ to speak of [Sheffield Star].

This Celtic problem needs addressed before we can think of Champions League

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we’ve got an entire side of the pitch that needs additions, and quickly.

Again, it’s impossible to judge Lee O’Connor based on 30 minutes of action, but it seems clear he’s second choice. That’s despite Ralston finding difficulty in adapting to Postecoglou’s tactical shape-shifting in the early stages, losing his man and giving away cheap fouls.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

But of course, yes, it was a friendly. Sadly though, Ralston has just never really looked like coming on to a game in the Green and White. There’s all the will in the world for him to achieve great things in the Hoops, but it’s just never seemed entirely likely.

Yes, it’s important that Celtic have invested in central defence. A top-quality left-back would hardly be a bad thing, nor a pair of wingers up top. However, with no news on Baldock for days, and little excitement for him joining in any case, there are huge concerns here.

The clock is ticking on Celtic. Full-backs are so vital to Postecoglou’s set-up, yet we’re under-staffed down one side. That has to be a priority before we even talk about European qualification.

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