Does Paddy McCourt still have a role to play at Celtic?
It is a question very much open to debate, and with the arrival of new bhoy Rabiu Ibrahim, McCourt’s days in a Celtic jersey could be numbered.
The enigmatic winger has often been eclipsed by James Forrest, who has had a terrific season so far, and with Lennon reluctant to play with two wingers; McCourt’s game time has been restricted to brief cameos.
It seems Lennon is reluctant to play with two out and out wide men in midfield, opting for Joe Ledley, and even Ki in some games to occupy the left flank. Some would say this doesn’t give balance to the side; however it does provide the returning Emilo Izagurrie with the space to charge forward in attack as Ledley and Ki often wander in field where they feel more comfortable. If McCourt was to feature on the left wing, Emilo’s lung bursting runs, which we have become accustom to, would be limited as there would be no cover provided by McCourt once the full back had sprung forward. This is just one of many tactical problems which Lennon has to weigh up if McCourt is to be included regularly in the side.
I doubt a fit Paddy McCourt would get in ahead of the budding James Forrest on the right, and the left side seems to working well without him.
Another issue surrounding the ‘Derry Pele’ is his playing style in general. Does modern football still have scope for impulsive dribblers with a lack of defensive responsibility? The game seems to have moved towards an all out passing and moving style, reliant on versatility and 100% running capacity, something McCourt struggles to offer.
As is common when discussing most wingers, the clichéd terms of ‘work-rate’ and ‘consistency’ are always mentioned in the same breath as the Celtic man. does he do enough for the whole 90 minutes, or are we treated to only a handful of imaginative runs and evading twists. finally his critics would argue that he is too individualist and doesn’t cover enough ground for the team.
I would argue that when McCourt has been called upon he has done himself proud in the green and white. Some of the above points may have truth in them, but he does offer us something different, that only maybe James Forrest, and Samaras at times offer, genuine ability to go past players and carve open defences, providing for the likes of Hooper and Stokes clear goal scoring opportunities.
However as things stand the only role I can see the Irishmen fulfilling at Celtic is his current one as a rarely used substitute, and occasional last throw of the dice in deadlocked games.
Weather McCourt is willing to accept this role is as questionable as his fitness.
His love of Celtic and the fans love for his swaying mazy runs may not be enough to keep him at the club. He is most defiantly at the stage of his career where first team football should be regular, something Celtic cannot provide the maverick with.
It would unfortunate to see Paddy leave the hoops, but it does seem like he is ‘training’ on borrowed time.