Celtic’s season has been a diabolical, error-prone affair. Whether it be Scott Brown being sent off after five minutes of his introduction against Livingston or Shane Duffy’s baffling cameo in the Old Firm, it has been full of mind-boggling moments.
Over the last decade, very rarely have the Hoops made mistakes. They’ve recruited well, ably replacing players like Virgil van Dijk and Moussa Dembele, and they’ve won an unprecedented number of trophies.
Unfortunately, they’ve now surrendered their grasp on the Premiership title to their biggest rivals. They have eradicated one part of the problem with the much-maligned Neil Lennon departing a fortnight ago but issues remain on the pitch.
Their 0-0 draw with Dundee United last weekend typified their inability to score goals on a regular basis as they were given a classic case of ‘what if’.
What if Celtic had signed Benjamin Siegrist in January was the query. The Dundee United stopper was in inspired form, making a grand total of 12 saves at Tannadice on Sunday afternoon.
The 29-year-old was linked with a move to the club a few months ago after his agent revealed that the Hoops had been scouting him. Indeed, they were shown firsthand his qualities last weekend in what was a remarkable performance by the Swiss stopper.
Celtic troubled Siegrist’s goal on numerous occasions but couldn’t break his resolve. The Bhoys lacked a cutting edge but it showed the benefit of having an adequate ‘keeper between the sticks.
Time and again this term, their goalkeepers have been the Hoops’ biggest problem. Celtic have conceded 14 more goals in the league than Rangers and shipped a grand total of 19 in just six Europa League outings.
Then, in Prague, it was Scott Bain running a mockery. Two of the goals were his fault as he let the ball across the box for one of the strikes before racing out of his area for another and failing to clear.
Even Conor Hazard was full of errors in the Scottish Cup final; that was despite saving Celtic’s bacon in the penalty shootout.
One of a few defensive players who has looked capable this season is Kristoffer Ajer. John Hartson dubbed him a “credit to the rest of the players”, suggesting he was the glue which binds this team together. As he demonstrated with his winning kick against Hearts in the aforementioned final, he is the man for the big occasion.
Thus, just imagine what a defender of his calibre could do with someone like Siegrist in the defence.
Ajer has lacked a competent goalkeeper behind him all season long. By signing the 6 foot 4 star in the summer, it could go a long way to fixing some of the issues which have plagued Celtic’s season.
Siegrist has been described as a “monster” by Dundee United manager Micky Mellon this season. That not only typifies his display a few days ago, but also his season as a whole.