Will Rodgers strengthen at the back? Which keepers stay at Celtic & who goes?

Now that he has been installed in the Celtic Park hot seat, one of Brendan Rodgers’ first tasks will be to run his rule over the current playing staff and decide on the areas of the squad he wants to improve on.

The remit for the Northern Irishman will not simply be to carry on the domestic success of his predecessor Ange Postecoglou, but rather to progress the club on the European front as well.  In order to do this, a tough assessment of the squad will need to be made in order for Rodgers to mould the squad to his liking.

If the reported £35 million transfer kitty is accurate, then Rodgers and Celtic could be in for a busy summer of comings and goings as Rodgers builds a squad with the intention of reclaiming European pride.

While Rodgers will be carrying out his own assessment of the playing staff and identifying areas for improvement, the ACSOM blog will be doing likewise throughout the summer as we look to identify potential signing targets or areas for strengthening.


It makes sense to start the series with a look at the goalkeeping position, the last line of defence, and one position that the majority of Celtic fans can agree needs strengthening, especially if the club is serious about making positive strides in Europe.

Over the years, Celtic has struggled to find a top-quality, European-class goalkeeper to fill the gap between the sticks.  Artur Boruc and Fraser Forster are the two most recent keepers who have come close to meeting the criteria, but since the latter’s departure, the void has not quite been filled.

Craig Gordon performed studiously under Rodger first-time around but was prone to the odd error or two on European nights.  And the less said about Celtic’s most expensive goalkeeping purchase, Vasilis Barkas, the better.

Joe Hart

Joe Hart has been the Celtic custodian over the past two seasons and has done a great job in rebuilding his reputation and providing leadership and an experienced head at the back.  However, as last season drew to a close, errors began to creep into the Englishman’s game which has led to doubts being raised over his long-term position at the club.

Those with longer memories will also recall the costly errors against RB Leipzig that played a significant part in Celtic finishing bottom of their Champions League group.

Hart still has the qualities to be a top goalkeeper in Scotland and despite not being the most comfortable with the ball at his feet, has enough ability to continue as Rodgers’ number one for another season.

However, if Europe is the aim, then it may be time to look at replacing him sooner rather than later with either a permanent replacement coming in over the summer, or a younger keeper coming in to learn the ropes for a season before taking the gloves.

Benjamin Siegrist and Scott Bain

If there are question marks over Joe Hart as a European-level goalkeeper going into next season, then there must be a resounding NO with multiple exclamation marks over whether his current understudies are up to the challenge of taking over the gloves.

Neither Benjamin Siegrist nor Scott Bain has shown anywhere near enough to suggest that they are long-term options to replace Hart in the Celtic goal.  Siegrist may be able to argue that injury and personal issues have prevented him from making an impact, but it is dubious whether the 31-year-old Swiss has the ability to perform on the European level.

Scott Bain, on the other hand, has had numerous opportunities to prove himself over the season at Celtic Park and never once convinced as a stable option.  His gaff at Easter Road last season after a decent first half summed up his entire Celtic career perfectly.

With Hart ageing and on a slow decline and neither backup option looking up to the task of replacing him, a new goalkeeper could be on the cards this summer.




What makes a Rodgers-type keeper?

While Rodgers does like his sides to build out from the back, there is not the same emphasis on the keeper fulfilling the modern-day ‘sweeper-keeper’ role as there was under Ange’s system.  As we can well remember from Brendan’s first spell at the club, he does like a keeper who is comfortable with the ball at his feet. This was the main reason Dorus de Vries was brought to the club.

However, unlike Ange, who wanted his keepers to be involved in the early build-up phase and play a short passing game, Rodgers is more comfortable with his keepers going longer and wider with their distribution out from the back.

When looking for a goalkeeping option to suit the Rodgers way, the ability to pass out from the back is a key criteria.  However, as he discovered with the failed de Vries experiment, a Celtic keeper must also have the ability to command his area and be a good shot-stopper.

The search for that elusive European class keeper who is within Celtic’s budget will be an intriguing one to keep an eye on over the summer.  We’ll be monitoring with great interest and also suggesting a few possible options in the weeks to come.

Kevin McCluskie


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