For Celtic, the full-back positions have been a problem all season, and last night against Aberdeen, we saw that again.
While Greg Taylor can’t be blamed too harshly for last night’s dross, something did emerge. Twice in two games, we’ve struggled to deal with talented Scottish right backs. Because I’d like to leave my flat at some point in the future, I’m not going to suggest we go after Rangers man Nathan Patterson.
But 17-year-old Dons man Calvin Ramsay was extremely impressive last night, and should absolutely be on Celtic’s radar. Undoubtedly, he outclassed our Premier League ‘star’ Jonjoe Kenny, and he joins a long list of Scottish talents Celtic should pursue.
Ramsay came on for the injured Ross McCrorie in the first-half last night [BBC], and his impact was immediate. An attacking, driving full-back, Ramsay almost immediately received an incisive pass from Lewis Ferguson and drove at Greg Taylor, ultimately winning a corner. That set-piece would be Celtic’s undoing, inevitably conceding.
All throughout, Ramsay opened up Aberdeen’s attacking play. Trusted to give Taylor a torrid time, he was relentless. Taking on players at will, and tidy with his touches, the right-back will have surely given Stephen Glass something to think about for next season.
Celtic need to invest heavily in wide areas
It speaks volumes that while Jonjoe Kenny, of Everton no less, struggled to make an impact, boys who can’t buy beer yet terrorised us at times last night.
As has been covered, Celtic have lost £36m worth of full-backs over the last few seasons. Kieran Tierney has probably given us unrealistic expectations. Jeremie Frimpong, meanwhile, hasn’t exactly bossed it in the Bundesliga. But he was still better than what we have now.
Tactics are as much to blame as personnel, though. We’ve lurched from formation to formation, hoping for different results. What are the likes of Diego Laxalt and Jonjoe Kenny meant to think when their responsibilities change so frequently? Fine, they haven’t been good enough, but if the remit of your job changed week to week, you’d probably struggle too.
Are they primary attacking threats? Or are they meant to stay back? Who covers if our full-backs attack the by-line? Are we relying on our wide defenders to supply our attackers? It’s a mess, frankly.
Aberdeen are unlikely to give away their best youth talents cheaply, especially to Celtic. But what we need are energetic full-backs who can tackle and attack. Ramsay was a menace last night, and is well worth looking at, but then, players need clear instructions and a set-up that will benefit them, just like any other player.
If Celtic can invest in Scottish talents, like Ramsay, Josh Doig and the likes, then we’d have real options who are already comfortable at this level. The adaption time is absolutely minimal, and you’d hope their impact would be instant.
It’s something to think about, at the very least.