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Poor recruitment has been key to Celtic's failings in 2020-21

Neil Lennon has found himself under pressure as Celtic have struggled domestically and in Europe
Neil Lennon has found himself under pressure as Celtic have struggled domestically and in Europe
Aaron Gales
ANALYST
Modified 06 Dec 2020
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Going into the 2020-21 season, Celtic manager Neil Lennon would have known the expectations of him and his players were higher than ever.

Winning the Scottish Premiership in 2019-20 opened up an opportunity to go for the unique achievement of ten league titles in a row. It's something which has never been achieved by either Celtic or Rangers, despite their dominance of domestic affairs in Scotland.

Despite the disappointment of once again failing to make the Champions League Group Stage, Lennon's side began their domestic campaign in the same relentless fashion that they had finished the previous season in.

Going in to the first Old Firm derby of the campaign against Steven Gerrard's Rangers, Celtic had won eight and drawn one of their first nine league games. However they were comprehensively outplayed by their great rivals, losing the match 2-0.

One defeat turned into a stutter, as they drew two of the next three league games that followed to fall 11 points behind Rangers, although they do have two games in hand.

Celtic also lost 2-0 to Ross County in the League Cup to end a remarkable run of domestic trophy dominance. They have once again flopped in Europe too. Celtic have lost four of their five fixtures in the Europa League and will finish bottom of their group.

So why have things gone so badly wrong for Lennon and his team this term? The answer lies in their poor summer recruitment.

Celtic have missed the presence of Fraser Forster after he returned to Southampton following his loan spell
Celtic have missed the presence of Fraser Forster after he returned to Southampton following his loan spell

Celtic's signings haven't been up to standard

The loss of Fraser Forster, who had been outstanding on loan from Southampton in 2019-20, was a big blow. With veteran Craig Gordon also returning to Hearts, it left Lennon with just Scott Bain, who has failed to convince since signing for the club in 2018.

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Celtic spent £5 million on Greek goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas as a replacement. However, he has yet to show the talent that persuaded Celtic to part with that large sum of money and lost his place to Bain after a string of disappointing performances.

Albian Ajeti started well but has since found goals hard to come by
Albian Ajeti started well but has since found goals hard to come by

Albian Ajeti was signed from West Ham United to provide the club with more firepower up front. He made an excellent start to life at the club, scoring five goals in his first 10 appearances, but has now gone nine games without a goal. He last found the back of the net at the end of September.

Talented young midfielder David Turnbull was also signed for £3 million. Turnbull had nearly joined Celtic a year earlier after an impressive 2018-19 season which saw him score 16 goals and claim seven assists. However, that deal collapsed when Turnbull failed his Celtic medical and required knee surgery.

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Turnbull only made two appearances in 2019-20, and is therefore understandably easing himself back into football after such a long absence. He has only been able to make six appearances since signing for the club, with just one assist to his name.

Shane Duffy, signed on loan from Brighton to shore up Celtic's defence, has also been a disappointment which has attracted criticism from supporters.

Despite the disappointing start to 2020-21, all is not lost. There were signs of improvement in the side's 4-2 defeat to Italian giants AC Milan in midweek. If they can win their games in hand in the league, they can reduce the gap to Steven Gerrard's league leaders.

However, if Celtic's 10th league title in a row does slip from their grasp, the club's recruitment will be where the blame will lie.

Published 06 Dec 2020, 04:24 IST
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