As Benjamin Siegrist got down to make countless saves during Celtic’s 0-0 draw with Dundee United on Sunday, it was a case of what if. The Hoops were made to rue a succession of chances that meant the title was on its way out of Parkhead.
It is now heading to the blue side of Glasgow where their fiercest rivals can bask in the glory of usurping Celtic.
Siegrist was an absolute wall as Dundee United survived several waves of Celtic attacks last weekend. Though there won’t just be regret at failing to win, they will be ruing their failure to sign him.
In late December, it was revealed by the player’s agent, Dr Thommas Kraft, that the stopper was fielding interest from several clubs, one of which happened to be the Bhoys.
He commented: “Benjamin has had an extraordinary season and the last match against Hibernian he produced a high-level performance.
“There is interest in him from clubs in the Bundesliga and the Dutch Eredivisie. Celtic have also scouted him several times, that is true. But today, at this moment, we have no official offer from Celtic.”
Siegrist ultimately stayed at Tannadice, a decision that has come back to haunt Nick Hammond and the Celtic hierarchy.
A matter of months ago the Hoops decided to splash out £4.5m on Vasilis Barkas. The goalkeeper has been error-stricken with his performances, however, not least against AC Milan when he somehow let a free-kick fly past him on his side of the net.
Mistakes like those have littered his Celtic career so far and it’s no surprise that they were considering another ‘keeper in January. On Sunday’s evidence, they should have signed Siegrist.
Using his colossal presence of 6 foot 4, the Swiss goalkeeper was a man-mountain between the sticks, making a ridiculously high tally of 12 saves, eight of which came from efforts on goal inside the penalty area.
It didn’t matter what Celtic threw at the 29-year-old, he was always there to rescue his team.
We shouldn’t be overly surprised by his marvellous performances this term, though. Dundee United manager Micky Mellon remarked in October that he was one of the best in Scotland, suggesting he “trains like a monster.”
Monstrous is a word that defines Siegrist well; perhaps Celtic ought to have another look at him in the summer?
Scott Bain has been at fault for goals this term, especially in the Europa League against Sparta Prague. He made errors for two goals in Prague but on top of that, Conor Hazard hasn’t been perfect either.
Although he saved a succession of spot-kicks in the penalty shootout win over Hearts in the Scottish Cup final, he was at fault in normal time.
It must be said that Siegrist isn’t the finished article either. He made a disastrous howler against Rangers only a few weeks ago. However, his shot-stopping and commanding nature are both undoubtedly attributed that are better than anyone else at Celtic.
Considering how wretched their goalkeeping position has been this term, Siegrist must be at the top of Hammond’s shopping list.