Then again during an uncomfortable spell prior to new year, when form and results took a severe dip, and during which spell Ledley like many of his teammates would be considerably afflicted. It is testament to his professionalism and resilience however that by the time of the title run-in he had rebounded to become an indispensible figure during the club’s best run of form in some years, producing some of his best individual showings of the season, only to for his role to be cruelly curtailed by injury during the run-in.
Understated yet effective, there is a certain maturity to Ledley’s game belying his relatively few years, and his steadying influence has been instrumental in the development of a new look side. A player with a canny knack for finding space and constantly available as an out ball to his teammates, the new bhoy quickly began complementing the more industrious and energetic Scott Brown, his calm demeanour and precise passing reminiscent of Paul Lambert’s role in Martin O’Neill’s succesful sides.
In keeping with a healthy goalscoring record at his previous club, Ledley is also willing to gamble on the odd attacking foray, ghosting forward for sniffs at goal and with the technique and composure to make them count. It was a tendency which would see him rewarded by season’s end with a tally of five goals from midfield.
Those goals admittedly arrived in fits and start, two in the league versus St Mirren and Aberdeen, followed some months later by a clutch in the cup competitions, to deliver victory in the Scottish Cup quarter-final at Inverness and then shortly after at Hampden to level the League Cup final versus Rangers. Not long after that, with Neil Lennon having taken a gamble on the player’s fitness for the final derby of the season at Ibrox, Ledley’s season was over when a hamstring tweak was aggravated, forcing him to sit out the remainder of the run-in.
Like his fellow midfielder Beram Kayal, his worth to the team was to be underlined and then some by his absence from the team every bit as much as his contributions when fit, as – among other factors admittedly – the disruption to what after much fidgeting had eventually become the tried-and-tested midfield formula played its own part in a defeat at Inverness. Sadly, that would ultimately spell the end for our championship hopes.
But Ledley can be more than pleased with his own contribution in what was always going to be a thoroughly testing inaugural season for the new arrivals, though doubtless he shares in the determination of many to correct the eventual outcome of this season with an even stronger showing, next.
Assuming he continues in the manner he has begun, there is every reason to look to that future with real hope things will indeed pan out that way. There is an element of assuredness to his game that is surely fundamental to any side aspiring to ally expansive, entertaining football with winning results, as Neil Lennon’s team appear intent on doing. The term ‘water carrier’ is a crude one, but there is no question a figure like Ledley can be an ideal counterweight to the verve and elan of traditional game-changers like Izzaguire, Commons or Hooper.
Whilst he may not have grabbed the plaudits and headlines as readily as those others, his contributions nevertheless gave rise to a firm appreciation of his worth amongst the support, where many will also have picked up on the apparent keeness with which he has taken to life both on and off the park in Glasgow, having for one thing become on the first team’s more enthusiastic and prolific ‘tweeters’. If nothing else, like many others he has succeeded this season in creating for himself the ideal platform to go on and properly seize some glory with Celtic. I see no reason he won’t be a central figure in our succeeding in that task next season.