Celtic are currently running the official Player of the Year Poll, admittedly in a much more subdued manner given the disastrous season we’ve had to endure. There are commitments to sponsors to consider, or like us, they’d probably have just written off holding a vote for this season.
As an alternative we thought we’d do something different, hopefully as a one-off to try to determine how the players have performed this season and to see who actually contributed what. The way we are going to do that is to look at Sandman’s Definitive Match Ratings that have as usual been published after each game on The Celtic Star. Now a few disclaimers, Sandman has made the odd reference to alcohol consumption (probably moderate) during and after matches (increasing so as the season progressed) and he’s also come in for some criticism for being somewhat generous with his scores – so any conclusions reached are actually based on generous scoring and doing the players a favour on a match by match basis.
We’ll take the season month at a time, look at the games, the key factors and keep a running score on the starters (excluding subs) and then run a table that will show who contributed most for the month.
Celtic played 6 matches in August, won four, draw once and lost once. 17 goals were scored and 4 conceded. The wins came against Hamilton (5-1) on Flag Day for the Scottish Premiership opener against Hamilton on 2 August, a comfortable Champions League qualifier win (6-0) over KR Reykjavik at Celtic Park on 18 August, a close fought 1-0 win at Tannadice against Dundee United on 22 August and on 30 August a much needed moral boosting 3-0 win away to Motherwell.
The drawn match was down at Rugby Park on 9 August when a stupid penalty was conceded by Christopher Jullien to allow Kilmarnock to equalise in the 1-1 draw. Boli Bolingoli came off the bench that fateful Sunday afternoon and all hell broke loose when the details of his illicit trip to Spain after the Hamilton game made the papers. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s anger was obvious and Celtic’s next two games against St Mirren and Aberdeen were postponed by Government instruction. Annoyingly our political leaders failed to act in a similar manner as the season progressed. The former Rapid Vienna left back, who had cost Celtic £3m the previous July, was fined, suspended and sent out on loan to Turkey. He is unlikely to play for the club again.
So that silly concession of a penalty by the French defender at Rugby Park and the reckless disregard for the football club from the Belgian full-back left Celtic on the back foot from the off.
If you thought that was bad then worse, much worse, was to follow on 26 August when the unfancied Ferencvaros pitched up in Paradise or the 2nd Round Champions League qualifier and won 2-1. Celtic didn’t have a striker. Leigh Griffiths was unfit for action after returning to pre-season out of condition and there was no Odsonne Edouard. Before the match we reported on the one danger man in the Hungarian Champions side who was the skilful, speedy left winger who had an eye for goal. Our advice was to play Frimpong to counter the threat but our management team opted for Elhamed. It was a costly error and Celtic were out of the Champions League at an embarrassingly early stage. There goes £30m but the argument was made that Europe could wait, this season was all about The Ten.
Afterwards an emotional Neil Lennon had had enough of what was going on behind the scenes and informed the support that there were a number of players in the squad who didn’t want to be at the club. The Want Aways were apparently convinced to hang around for one more season to see out the Ten but they were proving to be reluctant to say the least. Going public on this perhaps caused more harm than good. The support now knew but the dressing room was damaged, as it turned out, beyond repair.
Bolingoli, Covid breaches and the Scottish Government now had the loss of £30m from Champions League qualification and the emergence of the Want Aways on our list of reasons why it was beginning to unravel for Neil Lennon and Celtic. Across the city theRangers quietly went about their business.
So to Sandman’s Ratings and who contributed what in August 2020. We’ll show this then carry the marks forward for a look back at September 2020 next…
SANDMAN’S DEFINITIVE RATINGS – AUGUST 2020 (NUMBER OF GAMES STARTED / OVERALL SCORE FOR THE MONTH)
Scott Brown leads the way, followed by Ryan Christie and Callum McGregor. Leigh Griffiths has yet to make an appearance on the leaderboard. Barkas was producing steady, if unspectacular numbers at the start of his time at Celtic…
1. SCOTT BROWN – STARTS 6 POINTS 43
2. RYAN CHRISTIE – STARTS 6 POINTS 41
3. CALLUM McGREGOR – STARTS 6 POINTS 39.5
4. CHRIS JULLIEN – STARTS 6 POINTS 38
5. GREGG TAYLOR – STARTS 6 POINTS 37.5
6. MOI ELYOUNOUSSI – STARTS 6 POINTS 35.5
7. VASILIS BARKAS – STARTS 4 POINTS 31.5
8. JAMES FORREST – STARTS 5 POINTS 28
9. KRISTOFFER AJER – STARTS 4 POINTS 27.5
10. OLIVIER NTCHAM – STARTS 4 POINTS 26
11. ODSONNE EDOUARD – STARTS 3 POINTS 22.5
12. HATEM ELHAMED – STARTS 4 POINTS 22.5
13. JEREMIE FRIMPONG – STARTS 3 POINTS 19
14. NIR BITTON – STARTS 2 POINTS 14
15. SCOTT BAIN – STARTS 1 POINTS 6
16. PATRYK KLIMALA – STARTS 1 POINTS 6
Sandman’s September Ratings and month review to follow….