A lot has been written in the tabloids this week about what team Neil Lennon will choose for this weekend’s Scottish Cup Final with Hearts.
On one hand, the likes of David Turnbull and Ismaila Soro have given the squad a jolt of fresh impetus. However, as Neil Lennon has pointed out, it’s stalwarts like Scott Brown who got us there.
It has now become a question of experience versus form. Brown is a hero to all of us, and his commitment to the Celtic cause for more than a decade means he will always warrant serious consideration. When on form, he is also exactly the kind of midfield enforcer you need to put aggressive opponents in their place. The one thing you can be sure you’ll always get from Hearts when they play us is aggression.
Unfortunately form is a problem for Brown at the moment. Although until last week, the same could be said of the entire Celtic team. Sometimes sitting out a game or two can give a veteran player a renewed vigour and sense of purpose. If called upon to play on Sunday, I expect to see a Scott Brown on a mission, determined to show us all that even in his mid-30s, he can still be the on-field leader we know and love.
At the end of the day, whether one player plays or not shouldn’t determine if we win a match like this. Hearts are a team in a league below us. Some would argue that this is a false position created by last season’s chaotic conclusion to the league championship. I don’t buy that though. They had the worst record in the league, and lost the most games, so they went down, it’s as simple as that. They are certainly no mugs, but we should still have enough in the tank to beat them, regardless of who plays.
Whilst the media do their level best to turn this “selection headache” into yet another dramatic episode in the downfall of Neil Lennon and Celtic, I really don’t see this as a problem, quite the opposite in fact.
Who do we choose to play in the cup final, an emerging new talent with bags of potential and a style of play that shows a maturity well beyond his years, or Scotland’s most effective midfield general and captain of the last decade?
It’s the kind of choice most managers would kill for.