I wasn’t surprised this morning to see that the brilliant Alan Morrison, of Celtic By Numbers, had put up an article about our penalty kicks. This has a been a hot debate point for a while now, most notably on whether Giorgios Giakoumakis should take them.
He has missed a few of them now, and that always gets people nervous. Juranovic, on the other hand, seems icy cool when he’s stepping up for them. The notion of a right back taking penalties would be more mainstream amongst our fans if we got as many of them as the right back across the city. But perhaps Giakoumakis would get more practice too.
I am sympathetic with both sides of this debate, because I do admit to feeling a thread of nervousness when Giakoumakis steps up which I don’t have when its Juranovic. Our Croatian just seems more settled and his shots carry more conviction.
For all that, I can understand why Celtic and the coaching team have gone with the traditional approach of having your central striker taking the spot kicks. Presumably, they watch this guy in training and they practice this, and his numbers hold up.
But this is where we might have a little bit of misplaced thinking. Taking a penalty in training carries a different, far lesser, pressure than taking one in a competitive game. Giakoumakis doesn’t look to me as if he’s 100% comfortable with this role, and that alone gives me the fear. There must be players in the squad more suited to it.
Giakoumakis remains one of my favourite players at Celtic. As a penalty box predator, I don’t think he has any rival in the country. But this is a slightly different skill-set requiring a slightly different mentality. A penalty kick requires ice cool calm and affords the taker time to think. Giakoumakis is at his best when acting on pure instinct, which is why he scores so many goals.
I think this is something the management team will be looking at. How could they not be? It’s been a discussion point amongst fans for a while, and Alan’s excellent piece has brought it fully mainstream, where it will only get greater traction.