Just over a month ago, on 4 September, I wrote an opinion article titled – Don’t Be Too Quick To Doubt Broony. In that piece I acknowledged that Scott Brown hasn’t started the season very well – I made no attempt to sugar coat things. However, I also pointed out the various times that he has been doubted, deemed finished, and came back to prove everyone wrong. At one time I was one of those doubters, but I soon learned that Broony often need a run of games to get up to speed and hit his stride.
The essence of what I expressed last month is highlighted in these closing two paragraphs:
“He has started the season poorly and looked a bit off the pace, let’s not sugar coat things. He’s not been his usual self. However, the season is only a few games old. May I remind readers of that Lazio game when Brown was as energetic as ever against a top European team… that was less than a year ago. By all means fans can recognise when players don’t play well, but let’s not be hasty. This has happened many times before. Sometimes Broony takes a few games to hit his stride and get up to speed. I have doubted him in the past, but never shall again because every time I thought he was done, he just came back and proved me wrong. I think he will do so again.
Unless his lack of sharpness continues for the next few games and into October, then I think it’s premature to say “he’s finished.” Broony has been doubted so many times in the past and always shows his worth in the end. There is not a better figure to have leading us in such a historic season.”
I have to admit that there were moments when I did begin to wonder ‘is this it?’, ‘is he actually done this time?’ But having written the October date in the article, I had to stick to my word of giving him that long…
Then we played Hibs at home on 27 September and Broony martialled the midfield, looking much more like himself. He was among the two nominees for man of the match, rightly beaten to the award by Jeremie Frimpong. After the game Neil Lennon said “He’s come in for some criticism. He takes a while to get up to speed at times, but he’s far from done. We have all the data and he’s not finished at all.”
The display against Hibs was encouraging, but it was only one game. We faced Sarajevo next and Brown again put in a tidy performance, breaking things up in front of the defence. It’s a simple role and he hasn’t been under huge pressure as we dominated both games, but he’s looking much more assured and his presence is more important for the impact he has on those around him.
Brown has been accused of slowing down our play at times this season. However, when rested yesterday, there was no noticeable change in Celtic’s speed. Ntcham is a player, who is known for his casual style, whilst the other midfielders are all similar types of players. There wasn’t that Rogic creative type in the side to speed things up, so maybe the lack of fluency in our play hasn’t been down to Scott Brown at all. In fact, in the short time that Broony came on against St Johnstone, he lifted the team with his presence. The moves for both of our goals were started by Ajer and Duffy in forward areas, when Brown was on the pitch. He knows his role, instills confidence in the defence and allows players the freedom to push forward.
Broony is starting to prove the doubters wrong again. He is playing much better and his absence yesterday showed what a miss he is in multiple aspects. He’s the link from defence to midfield, often picking up the ball from the backline and feeding players in more attacking positions. It’s a simple task, yet one that wasn’t fulfilled without him in the team. Beyond that, he breaks things up and his biggest asset is the influence he has on his teammates.
One of my friends remarked: “Broony could play 90 minutes and not touch the ball and still influence our team and performance. He is the only player in our entire 10 in a row that is irreplaceable.” I concur.