With Celtic’s season now more or less done and dusted, the preparation can begin for next term at Parkhead.
It will be one of the most important in the club’s recent history as they strive to achieve parity with their biggest rivals and reclaim their dominance of Scottish football.
On the chalkboard
There aren’t many positives to take from this season. The defending has been diabolical and errors have littered their play.
They have conceded 14 more goals than Rangers and have been left to rue some poor recruitment last summer.
Though, if we are looking for salvage points from a torrid campaign, look no further than Ismaila Soro.
The Ivorian arrived in January 2020 but had to wait until the end of the year to really make his mark in a Hoops shirt. He burst onto the scene during the win over Lille in the Europa League, a match where he produced a colossal ten tackles.
For a period of time, he was irreplaceable in the Bhoys side. When Soro has started this term, Celtic have lost just twice in the league.
Is Soro the most natural successor to Brown?
I don’t think so
Though, with Neil Lennon brutally moving him back to the bench, he has now only started just once since the end of January. Soro is also struggling to appear from the substitute’s bench.
That being said, he has caught the eye when he’s featured, making 2.3 tackles per game on average this term. With that in mind, he feels like the most natural successor to Scott Brown if he winds down his contract.
A sticking point
Soro might well be viewed as the internal heir to Brown’s throne but Celtic’s recruitment team could take things in a different direction.
James McFadden even recently told the media that he could come in and replace Brown. On a grand total of £50k-per-week at Selhurst Park, he’d presumably have to take a considerable wage drop to move to Glasgow.
That being said, he is out of contract in the summer and available on a free transfer. Soro, however, will have every right to be fuming with the Celtic hierarchy if they sign another midfielder, especially one of McCarthy’s calibre.
With that in mind, he’d surely come to Paradise in a bid to start ahead of Soro. For someone who has been so impressive whenever he’s played, this would be an almighty blow to his aspirations.
The 22-year-old immediately came in and made the Bhoys look like a better defensive outfit. When he started his first game of the season in the 2-0 win over Kilmarnock in December, he helped Lennon’s men keep their first clean sheet since early October.
He has been the glue that binds this team together at stages this term. That being said, in recent months, he has been dislodged by the wise old head in Brown. Thus, if McCarthy arrives, it would only further hinder his chances of regular football at Parkhead.
Considering how impressive he’s been, this would understandably be a bitter pill to swallow.
AND in other news, Bye-bye Ajer: Celtic must unleash rarely-seen “tower” next term, he’s a big “weapon”…