The two Carl Starfelt trends that Celtic need to continue

By Euan Davidson

March 8, 2022

You’ll have noticed a couple of recent things about Carl Starfelt that, for Celtic, were a long, long time coming.

Firstly, with his height and frame, it was hoped that Starfelt would be more of a danger in the air. That, at set pieces, he would establish himself as a Jullien-type, someone who could be an attacking threat in opposition boxes. Certainly, he’s won his fair share of defensive aerial duels in a defensive sense. Up front though, not as much?

Secondly, he was being criticised mercilessly whenever anything was going wrong for Celtic more broadly. He became a quick and easy target for ridicule; he couldn’t pass, his positioning was suspect, he was too slow. Even though Celtic have established one of the best defences in the league. It was annoying. Evidence, be damned!

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

What’s happened now though? Well, for one thing, Starfelt has been an offensive threat; although not in the sense we might’ve expected. For two games in a row, he’s won the first header when the ball’s come in from wide, settig it up for someone else. Be that Cameron Carter-Vickers against St Mirren, or Daizen Maeda against Livingston. It’s not direct, per se, but it’s a clever way of finding a better opportunity nearer the goal.

And it’s sorted a problem that’s dogged us for years. For now, at least.

Secondly, Starfelt now seems to be getting the praise he’s so overdue. As my colleague David Walton pointed out, he had the performance against Livingston that other defenders just haven’t had. He was largely impeccable in West Lothian on Sunday.

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Long may this continue for perennial Celtic whipping boy Carl Starfelt

Now, it feels as if we’re finally starting to see Starfelt being appreciated at both ends of the park. Footballers will say they don’t read the papers, and maybe that’s true – but surely he’ll get a boost from these two performances.

Whether the corners plan is indeed, a plan, or just a happy accident? He won’t care, surely. The fact he’s been able to add assists to his game, and in a part of our play that was sorely lacking, can’t be anything but a good thing. And the fact he’s getting kinder reviews, and is changing his perception to cynics?

Again, footballers might not care. They’re only human though.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Brought in as our star defender, on a permanent deal from Rubin Kazan, it took a while for Starfelt to adjust. There’s no getting around that. Once he did though, and established a fantastic partnership with Carter-Vickers, Celtic haven’t looked back.

Domestically, at the very least.

A Carl Starfelt that’s more confident in the air from an attacking perspective is a good thing for Celtic. Because the fact remains that as a centre-back, he’s done exactly what he’s needed to. Probably more, in fact. His rate of aerial duel wins and his passing really have been beyond what we might reasonably have expected [WhoScored?].

Almost every other big-name summer signing has had their moment in the sun. Hopefully, this is Starfelt’s. Long may it last.

Read more: What Ange Postecoglou has done to dispel a Celtic myth in recent games