This has been a chaotic year for Celtic, one that was perfectly summed up last Sunday.
16 points behind SPFL leaders Rangers, Neil Lennon has come under considerable fire. Supporters have gathered outside of Parkhead in protest but there was at least some comfort last weekend.
Lennon’s side managed to defeat Hearts in the Scottish Cup final, ensuring a historic quadruple was sealed.
That being said, the circumstances in which it came about were far from ideal. The Hoops were cruising at 2-0 heading into half-time. Goals from Ryan Christie and Odsonne Edouard put them ahead before their opposition came back.
Once again, the defending was questionable. Shane Duffy and Christopher Jullien were at sixes and sevens before Conor Hazard was left wanting in goal.
After the game finished 3-3 following extra-time, it was Hazard who eventually became the hero in the shoot-out.
Lennon will have a dilemma over whether to play the young stopper given his mistakes in normal time, but he’ll also have a headache to resolve in midfield.
That’s one involving skipper Scott Brown. The Scot hasn’t exactly had his best season and has looked considerably off the pace, particularly in Europe where he’s struggled to have any positive influence.
The very fact that Celtic won back to back matches against Lille and Kilmarnock with Ismaila Soro playing ahead of Brown is unsurprising. The fact they also kept their first clean sheet since the beginning of November against Killie provides plenty of evidence as to why the Ivorian needs to play instead.
It’s hard to work out just how long Brown’s shelf life is, but Lennon can start to engineer Celtic’s revival by axing him against Ross County on Wednesday evening.
The 35-year-old has been sloppy this season and has lost possession of the ball a colossal 91 times across all competitions. For a holding midfield player needing to offer a protective screen, that isn’t ideal.
What typified his season was the way he tailed off in the Scottish Cup final. Writing after the game, Daily Record reporter Gordon Parkes said that his “influence faded alarmingly after the break.”
Unfortunately, that just about sums up how his campaign is playing out – Brown’s quality has worryingly dropped off and Celtic now need to look towards the future.
That begins by playing Soro on a regular basis.