Top Ten Players of the Season – No. 6: Wilson

In Neil Lennon’s first full season as manager he signed Kelvin Wilson from Nottingham Forest on a pre contract in January of 2011. Celtic bid £300,000 for a permanent move but Forest manager Billy Davies rejected the offer then spitefully refused to play the big defender until his contract ran out which was no good to either party.

After a patchy first year at Parkhead, last season saw Kelvin Wilson consolidate his place in the Celtic defence. Of the 59 competitive games played last season Wilson played in 50 of them so it’s reasonable to think that Neil Lennon now sees his ex Forest team mate as an integral part of his side.

Over the piece Kelvin had a good season but the feeling is that he has not found the right partner in central defence to compliment his style. Although right footed he appears to prefer playing on the left side of a defensive pairing and when playing on the right he did not look as comfortable.

The best defensive combination last season was Wilson and Efe Ambrose which was particularly effective in the Champions League games and it was in this arena that Wilson looked at his best. In the games against Barcelona both men had fine games and it wasn’t until Ambrose returned from African Cup duty that he began to look erratic and this seemed to unnerve Kelvin and his form dipped also.

Wilson looked at his best last season when faced with a mobile forward. He has a tremendous turn of pace and put that to good effect when under pressure. On the other hand he did not look comfortable when faced with a physical type of striker, such as Higdon of Motherwell, and he appeared to be intimidated which is a surprise given that he is 6’ 3’’ and for such a big man he does not a great header of the ball. Too often he appeared hesitant to attack the ball and had a preference for allowing the ball to go behind him and rely on his pace to clear any danger.

In the domestic games Kelvin had a good season but as stated previously he kept his best form for the European arena. Like a lot of the first team squad there were occasions when he found it difficult to motivate himself in the SPL and perhaps he found it all too easy in the majority of those games. But when faced with a step up in class he looked the part and had exceptional performances against Benfica, Barcelona, Spartak Moscow and Juventus. The better the opposition then the better Kelvin played. On that showing there is no doubt that he is more than capable of playing at the highest level.

Wilson looked composed at all times and was constructive when playing from the back. At his best there was talk of an England call up but given the lack of opportunity for Gary Hooper on that front then an international call up for Kelvin Wilson looks less than likely. There were also rumours of English sides showing an interest in him at times during the course of the season.

Being a big man it’s no surprise to see Kelvin going up for corners but what is a surprise is that he has not scored for the Celts yet. After a bit of research I have discovered that he has not scored since he found the net for Preston North End against Stoke City on 20 January 2007 which is a gap of six and a half year. Here’s hoping this can be rectified next season because having a goal threat from defenders at set pieces is now a major part of the modern game.

There is no doubt Kelvin has been a great signing for Celtic and it’s noticeable that Celtic have had some success in the standard of player we have brought from the Championship in England. Think Gary Hooper, Joe Ledley, Adam Matthews and Kelvin also. Hopefully this is a market that Neil Lennon can further tap into in the future.

Kelvin Wilson can now regard himself as Celtic’s first choice centre back. With the arrival of Virgil Van Dijk and possibly Steven Mouyokolo for next season it will be interesting to see how the next stage of Kelvin’s Celtic career will now develop.

Last season – NE

 

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Image kindly supplied by @vagelisgeo of biglens.co.uk

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