It is a mark of mental strength to keep on playing whilst surrounded by doubts and questions and speculation about your future.
Greg Taylor has had it all in the past three years. The ex-Kilmarnock boy, whose only real problem is that his name isn’t Kieran Tierney, has been an excellent servant for this club and a far better signing that many thought he would be.
But Greg Taylor has been under the most intense pressure since the first match he played for Celtic. In just about every transfer window, there has been talk about who we are bringing in to replace him.
Diego Laxalt was first, and he didn’t cut it. Bolingoli got an opportunity and was actually signed originally, in the same window as Taylor, as the starter … he could not dislodge him from the team. Ange tried Juranovic there but Taylor was better.
In the summer last season, we brought Bernabei. He was nowhere near dislodging Taylor from the side. Liam Scales was considered as a left back option and has played there and done well, but he wasn’t able to get Taylor out of the side either.
All through the summer, names were being tossed around. Yet Taylor is still here, still first choice, and he’s going into yet another window wondering who will be brought in to play in his position. The name everyone assumed it would be – the Portuguese Tiago Araujo – is now off the radar. Celtic don’t think he’s a £4 million player and that’s what we’ve being asked to pay.
Whoever we sign in that position has to be a significant and obvious upgrade on Greg Taylor and that’s not going to be as easy to find as people think. Taylor hasn’t proved easy to shift so far, and he’s mentally strong enough that he’ll keep on doing what he’s doing regardless of all the noise in the background. And I would rather have someone like that in the team than take a punt on some total unknown who might not be up to the job.
I am glad it won’t be Araujo because nothing about him impressed me in the least, except that he was physically strong. The stat-cruncher don’t like him because his passing under pressure is suspect and that’s the last thing we need playing a high line. He screams “project” and Taylor is better than some project, and he deserves more respect than that.
Can we do better than Greg Taylor? Absolutely. Do I expect us to in the fullness of time? Yes, most certainly. But is it critical that we replace him in this window? I don’t think so, because he’s more than up to the job in Scotland and this can wait until the summer. But it does seem as if this is a position we want to try and fill this month.
Bernabei is a dreadful player. He’s one of the reasons it makes it easy to cast doubt on Mark Lawwell’s qualifications for the job, as he’s one of his players. We will probably need to move him on before we think about a permanent player in this position, but don’t rule out someone on loan. Right now, I would prefer that … as a backup to Taylor.
Because Taylor has been a good player for us and deserves a little loyalty at this point. If he’s going to be the backup we’ll need to sign somebody damned impressive or it’s a waste of time and money because Taylor will just keep him out of the side.
I am a Greg Taylor fan. It might not be fashionable but I admit it freely. The boy has been a much better signing than many are willing to credit. If it turns out that we do buy a good left back this window and he is relegated to the bench it will not be because he’s failed but simply the result of football’s most unforgiving metric; we found someone better.
There is no shame in that. Greg Taylor has earned his Celtic place.
If someone wants it they are going to have to do the same. Nobody we sign there is going to get that spot by right. Taylor has seen off all comers so far. I wouldn’t bet against him.