From then on in, it’s been a somewhat smooth ride for Hinkel considering the disastrous season that the club has endured. With a defensive partner somewhat changing every week, one can only wonder how Hinkel has been so consistent in his performances throughout the season. Furthermore, the performances of said partners were the cause of the club’s downfall, and it begs the question: “Just how could he put up with that?”
The Celtic defence, for the past few seasons, has been mediocre at best. As harsh as it may sound, it’s putting it lightly. This is why I feel for Andreas Hinkel, as he does not deserve an ounce of the criticism as the rest do. While we have seen all three left backs flop and seen more central defence changes than Portsmouth do in owners, it’s a wonder how Hinkel has not only cumbered up a good number of assists (Six in the SPL, apparently), but he has came through the season looking like captain material.
Is it that hesitant a shout? I really don’t think it is. Hinkel has ever reliant throughout, been very German-like in his consistency (is that too stereotypical?) and always comes out with a cool head (Take note, Scott…). Given the few candidates that we have for the position, Hinkel must be scratching his head to why he hasn’t got the role. It might not mean much, but he is by far the best man for the role.
Given how shambolic the Celtic defence has been in the past season, and in no way is that exaggerating, it makes one wonder how crucial Hinkel could be to the team. If he had a sound defensive partner next to him, it would no doubt give him not only more confidence to go forward, but more options in play. Without wanting to criticise Josh Thompson because he’s far from developed, you could only imagine what goes through Hinkel’s head (No, not Nutella) when he plays the ball to his left hand side to the central defence.
You can analyse further and say if we had a better team overall, Hinkel would radically excel for us. If McGeady could track back more, he would be near-on the perfect wide player. A lot of the time, the right-hand side is left open due to McGeady’s attacking prowess, which leaves Hinkel open to counter attack’s and suffers because of it.
Even the striking department would benefit long term if we had capable players. Barring Robbie Keane, the combination of Fortune and Samaras hardly sparks confidence. With Fortune constantly hugging the line and Samaras not willing to get his hair dirty, what attacking threat could Hinkel or any full back possibly give?
If Morten Rasmussen gets a regular set of games next season, he could be one that would thrive on Hinkel’s delivery. There’s no question that the German’s crossing is the best, and most consistent, in the squad. If we had a predator that thrived on high balls, then Hinkel’s contribution to the team next season could be massive.
Could is a vital word in that last sentence. Hinkel was almost for the off back last season, as Tony Mowbray didn’t like what he seen in Hinkel, and a proposed move to Hull was possibly on the cards. Thankfully, nothing materialised. Despite that, there has always been ongoing interest from the likes of Hertha Berlin and Borussia Dortmund.
It would be crazy to even suggest selling Hinkel. The Celtic fans should know how hard it is to get a good full back, who is reliant and also effective. Do the names Naylor, Doumbe, Camara, Wilson, Wallace, Fox, Telfer and Caddis not suggest something to you? Given the board’s hunger for a good bank account, it wouldn’t be a total surprise if Hinkel was sold for the best part of £3 million, but we would go a helluva long way in finding an able replacement.
Under Lennon, Hinkel didn’t feature as much as most of the Celtic fans would have hoped/thought. Maybe as the title race was effectively over by February, Lennon was looking at who was staying and who was going, giving each player a chance. But it almost gives me the fear that Hinkel could leave, more so because he missed the final cut for the German World Cup squad, which would make him doubly determined to get back in. He even said that the Germans don’t recognise the SPL as a proper league as such, which suggests Hinkel isn’t best pleased about the current state of affairs (i.e Scottish football) and a move away wouldn’t be a bad thing.
If Hinkel does indeed leave this summer, it’ll be back to the drawing board in finding yet another full back who can at least show some promise. Given our demise in the past 18 months or so, it’s essential that we keep the few players that we have who are of Champions League quality, and Hinkel tops that list.
If he stays, I hope ‘Andy’ can lead the Celtic charge and start ‘Fightback part II,’ and take Lennon’s Celtic to some much needed silverware.