Scott Brown hasn’t had an easy ride of it this season. The Celtic midfielder has often been the scapegoat, the man targeted when things aren’t going according to plan.
Indeed, at times, he has deserved that criticism. His performance against Slavia Prague in the Europa League a number of months ago showed signs that his career may have been heading on a downward spiral.
He was poor in possession of the ball, struggled to keep up with the pace of the game and was lackadaisical when attempting to clear the ball for Slavia’s opening strike in Prague.
What typified Brown’s season was the red card he received against Livingston in January. The skipper had been on the pitch for just five minutes before he was handed his marching orders.
On that evidence, there didn’t look as though there’d be any way back for the skipper. However, he has shown signs, in recent matches, of getting back to his best.
In the 4-0 win over St Mirren, he was superb. Brown controlled the tempo of the game and scored a lovely header to open the scoring from a corner. On top of that, he played a delightful ball over the top to assist Albian Ajeti’s strike.
As club captain, his leadership skills have been tested to the max this season. More often than not, with the Bhoys floundering, it has not been up to scratch.
Though, after John Kennedy challenged him to stand up and be counted before the clash against Aberdeen, he repaid the interim manager with a classy display on Saturday.
Speaking before the encounter, Kennedy said: “He’s a strong character and will do the right thing but everybody must take responsibility and share that burden.
“If they do, it lightens the load and everyone is moving in the same direction. Scott will still be influential for the next few months in terms of how he leads by example.”
Indeed, the 35-year-old proved what a real leader of men he is this weekend. Brown took influence from Kennedy’s words and was as assured as he has been all season. It was Odsonne Edouard who scored the goal, but without their captain, Aberdeen might have found things easier.
Brown ran proceedings and in the process of touching the ball 105 times, he dominated the midfield. Only Callum McGregor (106) took on possession on more occasions, but no player completed more than his 84 passes as he finished with a success rate of 90%.
The veteran screened the midfield with relative ease, winning four ground duels. That tally was only bettered by left-back Diego Laxalt.
On a day where Brown had been challenged to step up by his new manager, he heeded Kennedy’s words and rolled back the years with an influential and combative performance.
More of this would be good before the midfielder’s contract expires in the summer.