Bolingoli – Extend his trial period, Celtic, Boli brings new balance

The Celtic kit supplier these days may well be adidas however there was a new balance to our line-up today at Fir Park, and it showed.

The surprise inclusion in today’s starting XI, as Celtic eventually ran out 2-0 winners over Motherwell, was once again the inclusion of Boli Bolingoli at left back.

It was perhaps less of a surprise than that in from the cold moment at Livingston, but it’s one Ange Postecoglou needs to consider a permanent feature until Greg Taylor shakes of the shackles of his shoulder injury and returns to the fore.

Taylor is without doubt Celtic’s best choice at full back. He of course has his much-advertised limitations when it comes to his final ball in attacking areas and his recovery runs are somewhat prohibited by a lack of pace. Yet when it comes to a player who has grasped an understanding of Ange Postecoglou’s style of play, a few Celts in the squad could do a lot worse than copy Greg Taylor’s homework. His ability to move up and down the left flank in tandem with Callum McGregor inside has been somewhat underplayed and it really should be no surprise Taylor has been earmarked for a contract extension.

. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

In Taylor’s absence however Celtic are short in the left back areas, despite the numbers available on paper at least.

Adam Montgomery, a player deemed as an Ange Postecoglou breakthrough, when really, he’s a John Kennedy promotion from last season, is a player Celtic’s much maligned coach earmarked as a left sided defender rather than an out and out attacker. However, Montgomery, fine prospect as he is, seems a wing back in a side who play without one or an attacking midfielder, who at this stage in his development lacking the nuance to play as a touchline hugging winger. Montgomery is also an option, while playing as a left back, who misses the defensive awareness off the ball to be considered anything other than a work in progress in that position.

. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Meanwhile Liam Scales, another deemed a left back at the time of his signing, has played predominately as a left sided centre half or as a wing back in his time with Shamrock Rovers, and may well need to be considered as a central option rather than as a full back based on his playing history. Either that or given some intensive coaching behind closed doors to develop him as a possible out and out left back.

With both these options time will need to be taken to iron out deficiencies or ready either player for a system of play vital to the managers philosophy. Meanwhile a previously out of favour Bolingoli seems and ideal stand-in for Greg Taylor.

Greg Taylor. Photo : Gonzales Photo / Lasse Lagoni

The inclusion of Boli Bolingoli today found a balance on Celtic’s left side we’ve been missing since the injury to Taylor. Boli’s advantage is he’s a player who prefers to look forward as well as having the midfield sensibilities to move inside, he has excellent recovery pace and when he does overlap, he is comfortable crossing a ball as well looking back and linking with advancing teammates.

Of course, there are moments where the brain freezes with Bolingoli, evidenced by his far from incognito attempts to head to Spain on EasyJet for romance, and again today when his inexplicable decision to go all Michael Jordan in our penalty box that could well have changed the flow of a game Celtic had controlled for long periods.

Yet Boli played his part, and then some, in the way he brought at left sided impact to Celtic’s left flank today. And despite being so far out the picture at Celtic he’s been removed for the Europa League squad, there is no need to double down on this one, instead we should back up.

At the very least until Greg Taylor returns from injury, there simply has to be a place in domestic encounters for Boli Bolingoli. The new balance to Celtic’s left flank he brought to the party today deserves an extension of the trial period. On today’s evidence he may well pass muster. At the very least he’s earning a further chance at redemption.

Niall J

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About Author

As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parhead's gates.

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