Two new midfielders joined Brown for the opening Champions League qualifier away at SC Braga. Efrain Juarez arrived from UNAM Pumas described by Lennon as a player with “great energy, really comfortable on the ball and works really hard off the ball.” Lennon continued, “He’s a very fit lad and I think his style will suit us, he’s a hardy little guy – he can put his foot in”. Joe Ledley from Cardiff also eventually signed in time to make his debut in the same game. Allied to these new midfielders a third player made his debut in the home game to Utrecht in the Europa League qualifier – Beram Kayal had been purchased from Maccabi Haifa. Buying three new midfielders and it could be argued Charlie Mulgrew was also a midfield option could leave no doubt Lennon had identified a need to strengthen the midfield.
Other than, and it’s a massive other than, the early exit in Europe (and to be honest we looked decent at home to Utrecht) the season had started as well as we could have hoped. An early injury to Kayal left us in some doubt as to what exactly we had purchased and then Juarez simply disappeared off the radar. Brown also picked up another injury and our early season hope was fading fast as we drew at home in succession to Dundee United, Inverness and Kilmarnock. Brown soon returned as a substitute in the Kilmarnock fixture at an eerily quiet Celtic Park. Kayal later returned via the bench for the Boxing Day fixture with St Johnstone. This was the match where the season was looking over before Cha fluked a shot come cross into the back of the net and Ki finished off a South Korea double before the two of them disappeared on international duty.
Rangers were on the horizon but before that Motherwell completed five home games in succession. Kayal was back on the bench, the South Koreans were off on their holidays and a certain Kapo made his debut. The Juarez mystery continued. A less than comfortable lead through McCourt was setting things up for Ibrox nicely when Brown, in my opinion, steamed into a challenge in the last few minutes thereby getting a red and leaving us short for the Rangers game. This was at the height of the refereeing criticism and Brown received plenty of backing from the fans but in my mind making a needless challenge at that time in that area of the park giving the referee an opportunity to send you off was stupidity.
Brown came back into midfield off the bench at Hamilton in another dismal draw only missing ICT away in the cup and St Mirren at home in the league as cautions mounted. It was during this spell that he seemed to finally find his feet as a Celtic player. By being moved out to the righthand side of the midfield Brown began to show something of the form that first brought him to our attention. Powerful runs down the flank, complementing the overlapping play of Wilson, showed Celtic fans a side of Brown’s game which had been only hinted at in previous seasons.
This season Scott Brown will of course be remembered for the goal at Ibrox in the Scottish Cup. Not only the goal but also the celebration which earned yet another caution. This one was worth it, right in Diouf’s coupon. The goal was unsurprisingly voted the best by the fans at the recent Player of the Year awards. Playing it down he described it as “the only time I’ll ever score a goal with my left foot from 20 yards so I’ll definitely agree with the decision”. He perhaps spoiled it by adding, “I’m not sure I meant it – it was probably a cross”.
The goal and of course the celebration, LETS ALL DO THE BROONIE O/, will long be remembered.
This is a massive season for Brown and the club. Do we cash in and try and get something back for our outlay or re-sign Scott Brown? We desperately need a playmaker and more goals from midfield. Leadership must come from throughout the park, not just from our captain although that would be a good place to start. Can we afford him missing important games through suspension? Getting booked in the cup final after 18 minutes thereafter walking the proverbial tightrope doesn’t help.
Hopefully we will see Scott Brown lift more trophies for us. Hopefully this season has witnessed the early stages of him maturing into a leader on the park. He has an excellent role model in his manager and it’s fair to say that he has played some of his best football in a hooped shirt under Lennon. Who knows – He many even surpass him by contributing a few more goals.