Chris Sutton has pointed out one key mistake that Celtic made in the summer which has directly resulted in their disastrous form this season.
It was supposed to be a season of celebration for Celtic. The Hoops were set to challenge for a historic 10IAR and with how dominant that they had been in recent years coupled with the Rangers’ penchant for collapsing, not many would have bet against Neil Lennon’s side.
A few months on though and the picture is quite different. The Hoops already find themselves 11 points behind Steven Gerrard’s side although not even half the season has been played yet. Their only saving grace at this point is that they have a couple of games in hand. Otherwise, things would have looked even bleaker.
Naturally, most Celtic fans have called for the sacking of Neil Lennon. For the most part though, Chris Sutton has backed his former teammate to turn things around and chosen to focus on other things that have gone wrong at the club. One those things is their failure to recruit a good goalkeeper when Fraser Forster decided not to extend his loan stay at Parkhead.
He wrote in his column in the Daily Record:
Celtic did have some nice passages of play in the game. Tom Rogic has wonderful feet and scored a sublime goal, Odsonne Edouard’s finish was delightful. So was Christie’s pass to set him up and he was unlucky with a brilliant free-kick at 3-2 which was saved superbly by Milan keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Which brings me back to Barkas. While the AC No.1 was flying across his goal to deny Christie, the Greek was standing as you would in bus shelter waiting for the No.63 as Milan’s free-kick went past him.
It was criminal. I’m not a goalkeeper, but I do know that you organise a wall and when you do, that covers one side of the goal and you cover the other. You do not get beaten on your side.
Barkas built a wall and then hid behind it. It was appalling stuff. He just doesn’t make saves. If he has done since he’s signed, I’ve missed them. Not much return on £5 million there and Scott Bain isn’t the answer.
Missing out on Fraser Forster has been key to the season. The big Geordie came up with the big moments. He made the vital stops. That gave the backline a confidence which they don’t have this season. It’s no coincidence the backline is brittle with no reassurance at their backs.
Celtic made the last 32 of the Europa League last season when Forster was making outrageous saves against Lazio. Without him, they are out of the competition.
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Goalkeeping has certainly appeared to be an area of weakness for the Hoops this season. Vasilis Barkas has failed to establish himself between the posts after his £4.5 million move in the summer from AEK Athens. On the other hand, it has never looked like Scott Bain is good enough to be a long-term solution to Celtic’s problems.
As a result, the club might very well dip into the transfer market in January to bring in a new goalkeeper. Will that guy be Forster, who has failed to make a single appearance since deciding to stay on at Southampton? Only time shall tell.
But it would be foolish to think that just bringing in a new keeper will automatically solve all the problems at the club right now. The defence looks very weak at the moment as well and no keeper can keep a clean sheet when the opposition team is presented with one chance after the other to score. Thus, a commanding centre-back should be on their January transfer wishlist as well.