For a long time now Celtic supporters have been crying out for the club to bring in a new left back, and understandably so.
With Greg Taylor the No.1 in that position at the start of the campaign and Boli Bolingoli seemingly not in the picture, the club signed versatile Irish player Liam Scales, who when signed, was predominantly playing left back for his previous club Shamrock Rovers. However, when a player can and has played in a number of positions like Scales, who has also played centre back and on the left of midfield, you will get supporters who argue over what his best position actually is. This left many supporters and pundits alike still claiming we didn’t bring in the much needed left back after the summer window slammed shut.
Unfortunately, Greg Taylor got injured early in the season and with Bolingoli still out of the frame, new right back Josip Juranovic was sent over to the left side of defence to cover Taylor, mainly in part to the brilliant form of Anthony Ralston at right back.
Juranovic has been a very solid figure when asked to play left back for the team, but you can see it hampers us going forward and in terms of crossing positions with the Croatian international of course being right footed, he is unable to overlap the winger and swing balls in with his left foot. Defensively one on one he seems to struggle on the left when speedy attackers go down the outside of him, not so much in Scotland but it is more obvious in Europe against better opposition.
But in the last couple of months we have seen Bolingoli come back into the side. Bizarrely, on both times he has started, he has done well in the games, looking much more assured than he did previously at the club, but then after the game he wouldn’t even be near the squad in follow up fixtures.
Today though, we saw the long awaited return of Greg Taylor. He came into the starting eleven today and played very well, with the away support at Tannadice giving him a standing ovation as he left the pitch. You could see today how much better it was having a natural left footer on that side of defence. Attacks from the back were build up so much faster. Again, this isn’t a slight on Juranovic, he helped us out when needed and played well, and we can see when moved to right back just why he is a starter for the Croatian national team, he is top drawer on that side of the park.
But today was also the day where we got to have another look at new bhoy Liam Scales. We have seen very little of him in the team since his arrival in the Summer, but every time he has played, he looks extremely assured, tall, strong and athletic. He looks like he has played with us for years. He finally got another chance again today and my God he took it. Driving forward through the middle, just like Ange wants his inverted full backs to do, and latched on to a pull back from Abada, with a perfect side foot finish into the net.
The manager seems to have extremely high standards when it comes to fitness and by the sounds of it, Scales wasn’t quite up to the standard he requires when he first joined, but now obviously with him coming back into the fold, Ange must feel he is ready to be part of the first team.
But as we all know, Celtic have been heavily linked to Japanese ace Reo Hatate, with latest reports stating the deal to join the Parkhead outfit as all but finalised. Hatate is similar to Scales in the fact that he can play in a number of positions in defence and across the midfield. Many seem to see him as a left back but if you look at the game he just played at the weekend there, he was actually playing on the left side of a midfield three.
Hopefully the deal to bring Hatate to the club goes through, as by all reports he is a very good player and his versatility will be a big asset to us. But with Greg Taylor back fit and starting, with Liam Scales now ready to play and Bolingoli still ready as back up, is Ange Postecoglou bringing him in to be our new first choice left back as many seem to think? I’m not so sure.