Can Celtic ever properly replace Scott Brown? Should we even try?

Frank’s right for once, we do need a physical holding midfielder, but is it a position that’s being slowly phased out in the modern game?

1988: Frank McAvennie of Celtic celebrates after the Scottish Cup Final match against Dundee United at Hampden . Celtic won the match 2-1. Photo: Allsport UK /Allsport

I usually disagree with much of what Frank McAvennie has to say regarding team affairs, but yesterday he was talking about our need for a holding midfielder, and I reckon that he was spot on.

Photo by BPI/Shutterstock. Joey Barton and Scott Brown during the Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Rangers at Celtic Park on 10th September at Celtic Park

McAvennie reckons that we haven’t fully replaced Scott Brown and need someone in the mould of Broony or Neil Lennon to strengthen our midfield, and he is right. A combative midfielder with power and presence would fully complement the likes of Reo Hatate, Callum McGregor, Matt O’Riley (if he stays) and Paulo Bernardo (when he signs).

 Callum McGregor after the Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Hearts  at Celtic Park on May 04, 2024 . (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

It would make us more solid particularly in Europe where our midfield is seen as a bit lightweight. Callum McGregor currently occupies that role, and despite being a fantastic leader, he’s much more of a creative player than an ‘in your face’ kind of performer. It has to be said though, that the ‘old fashioned’ holding type of player has dramatically declined in the modern game these past few years.

25 Sep 2001: Neil Lennon and Bobo Balde celebrate at the final whistle after the UEFA Champions League win against FC Porto played at Celtic Park. Celtic won the match 1 – 0.Photo Michael Steele /Allsport

Gone are the days of a Roy Keane, and a Neil Lennon type of player. Nowadays most ‘defensively’ minded midfielders are known for their passing ability and reading of the game rather than being a physical presence.

The likes of Xavi, Andrea Pirlo, and Sergio Busquets were players who helped change the way we think of that position by using their skill and guile instead of brute force to dominate the middle of the park.

Tomoki Iwata C is seen in action during the Scottish Premiership football match against Hibernian on Dec. 6, 2023.

Even our own legendary Scott Brown despite his reputation, had more of a football brain than most gave him credit for. The nearest we have to that at the moment is Tomoki Iwata who played a key role this season and has established himself as a vital squad member, and an ideal replacement for Callum McGregor when required.  But Tomoki is technical, defensive minded and cautious but is not exactly a warrior in the Scott Brown mould.

Is the day of the stereotypical physical in your face holding midfielder slowly phasing out?  If there was a younger version of Scott Brown coming through he’d be worth a lot of money!

Just an Ordinary Bhoy

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An ordinary everyday Celtic supporters hailing and still residing in Govan in the shadows of the enemy. I’m a season ticket holder. I Witnessed my first Celtic game in 1988 and have attended when I can ever since. Growing up in the 90s I witnessed Celtic at their lowest, and now appreciate the historic success we enjoy today. I enjoy writing about this wonderful football club and hopefully will continue to do so. I’ve always been a keen writer and initially started this a hobby. My ambition is to one day become as good an author as my fellow Celtic Star colleagues.


  1. Lewis Ferguson would have been to apt replacement for Brown but as usual, there is never any forward planning, Celtic constantly messing around in the transfer market

    • William Melvin on

      Even his dad and uncle said to him to join the hoops but Lawwell always looking a gift horse in the mouth fucked that up as well.
      I reckon young Daniel Kelly might just be in Brendan’s plans for that kind of role……lf we can hold onto him.

      • 100% William, look at the way Liewell conducted himself with the McGinn deal. He agrees the asking price with Hibs, McGinn is sitting in the foyer of Celtic Park with his agent waiting to sign on, but he waits and waits unaware that Liewell is on the phone with Petrie arguing over £200,000 that he’d already agreed too, WTF. Petrie phones McGinn’s agent and instruct him to take the lad down to Aston Villa and the rest is history

        We that fans are partly to blame if this deal goes south, we the fans want progress in Europe, are we really prepare to place our trust in a youth prospect or do we want Celtic to sign a ready-made mid-fielder that can hit the ground running?

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