When I saw the team sheet for Sunday’s encounter with Hamilton I was a stunned, but not totally surprised. With Celtic’s central defensive injury crisis deepening, Brendan Rodgers recalled Dedryck Boyata.
The World Cup player hadn’t kicked a ball since he returned from Russia. Firstly he was given time off to recuperate, then he was subject to speculation that a move away was on the cards and was “injured.”
We know that his agent was pulling the strings, such is their job. Brendan also recognised that the player had made a bad call himself and was willing to forgive and move on.
However, the Belgian remained on the sidelines. Tactical rather than physical one would assume.
There’s no doubt that the drama involving Boyata over the last month or so had been an ongoing distraction. The picture that was being painted was that he was on his way out.
Some of this was coming direct from the club, some of it by the media who love this kind of storyline. The problem was that Celtic were never setting the record straight.
Every time Boyata or his agent would say something, the club would say something different. Celtic have tried to do their business behind closed doors in recent years, but this is something they should have got in front of immediately.
Instead the whole fiasco got out of control, muddied by the media and bled onto the field of play and into the Celtic community. Fans were left to make up their own minds.
All this did was allow the matter to spin out of control. Now we have a confused, disgruntled and divided support.
Having been left out of so many match day squads, the writing appeared to be on the wall for Boyata. Or so we thought.
With Kris Ajer the only central defender fit and available for duty against Hamilton, there was every possibility that Boyata would be drafted in. Had he been left out, that surely would have confirmed his departure.
When it was confirmed Boyata would play, this as always going to stoke a reaction. Even when I had considered the possibility of Boyata returning to the first team prior to this match, I fully expected sections of the support to boo him.
That is exactly what happened….and more. A banner was unfurled at Celtic Park on Sunday, outlining exactly what the Green Brigade thought of the player’s inclusion in the starting line-up.
Now this has divided the support by quite some way. What cannot be ignored though is that we saw this coming and the fans are entitled to their opinion.
If Brendan Rodgers had any intention of playing Boyata ever again, every effort should have been made by the club to ensure the fans backed the manager and the player. The exact opposite happened though.
I’ve been disappointed by Celtic so far this summer. Not just on the park, but off the park.
These European qualifiers are gruelling enough without having to watch a club drama unfold at the same time. None of what I have seen has put me at ease.
I had already knew I wouldn’t see Sunday’s game against Hamilton though after watching the 1-1 draw with Suduva I was probably going to avoid watching it anyway. Boyata’s inclusion had nothing to do with that decision of course.
As soon as I heard that Boyata had scored the only goal of the game, all I could think of were the ensuing headlines. You couldn’t make this stuff up.
Brendan is publicly behind the player and the same is being said by the players. The question as ever is will Boyata be staying beyond this transfer window?
Before this stage in the drama, I was 100% convinced Boyata would be out the door. Now I am not so sure.
Celtic don’t have enough fit central defenders and there hasn’t been any activity in the transfer market to suggest a new one will be acquired before the deadline next Friday. I would now be very surprised if Boyata didn’t play on Thursday night against Suduva.
After that match we will know one thing. Will he have played his last game or are there more to come?