John Kennedy's small Celtic squad remark looks silly when you delve deeper

By David Walton

April 25, 2021

receCeltic interim manager John Kennedy has recently claimed that the Hoops aren’t carrying a big squad, in what appeared to be a defence of his decision-making.

It’s been a trying time for Kennedy since taking over from Neil Lennon back in February. So far during his time in charge, the interim boss has managed two wins, three draws, and one defeat as he struggles for form.

However, even more frustrating has been his determination to go with the same players over and over again. Celtic have consistently played the likes of Odsonne Edouard, Scott Brown, and Kris Ajer in the starting XI. That’s despite the fact they’re all likely to be off come next season – with Brown in particular already signed up to join Aberdeen.

When questioned on changes last week, Kennedy initially seemed to provide a glimmer of light. Before the dismal 1-1 draw in Aberdeen, Kennedy said the following via Celtic TV when asked whether he would change things up:

“We’re missing a couple of bodies but we’re not carrying a big squad at the minute. We’ve sent some guys on the fringes and the youngster guys to go out on loan and get them some exposure and game time toward the end of the season to put them in a better place.

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“So we’ll make some changes but with a consistency to make sure we’re going out with good rhythm and we go out to win the games as well and represent the club properly.”

Recent Celtic decisions give Kennedy’s analysis little weight

Kennedy continued to play his favourites in Aberdeen as he refused to change things up. Nir Bitton came into the side along with Greg Taylor. But only because Kris Ajer was injured and Diego Laxalt had a shocker at Ibrox.

But Kennedy has hardly helped himself add validity to those comments with his own squad selections. He can’t bemoan a small squad when he refuses to rotate for players who are itching and also deserving of an opportunity.

At Aberdeen, we had the likes of Ismaila Soro, Tom Rogic, and Leigh Griffiths on the bench. Albian Ajeti is another who desperately needs games, whilst we still have plenty of youngsters who would love an opportunity to feature. Adam Montgomery, Dane Murray, and Karamoko Dembele to name but a few.

Albian Ajeti can’t bag an opportunity / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

You have the fact that someone at a senior level at Parkhead sanctioned the departure of Patryk Klimala. There’s another first-team striker who desperately needed game-time. And another who didn’t find much under Kennedy.

He says we don’t have a big squad yet refuses to give any of the bench-warmers substantial minutes. His argument carries no weight due to that alone. You can’t say we have a small squad when there are four or five regular substitutes who barely see the starting XI.

We’ll see if that’s something that changes in the coming weeks as the season heads into its final three games. But don’t bank on the likes of Soro and Ajeti suddenly springing into the starting XI.

In other news, Celtic have reportedly left themselves open to a major July concern.