Monday, 19 December 2016

Two Departures... Two Very Different Outcomes

They say you don't know what you have until it's gone. However in the case of Kris Commons, the Celtic fans knew exactly what they had and just what a massive contribution he made during his time at the club, Such was his impact that the player's loan deal to Hibs was met with a sense of sadness that reverberated throughout the vast majority of the Celtic family. Even Lisa Hague, wife of Kris and herself a worthy inductee into the Celtic family wrote a heartfelt tribute to the club that she and her husband have taken to their hearts. This is what happens when players of a significant stature look set to depart a team where the fans have put them on a pedestal. Players come and go but the club goes on and even losing the likes of Henrik Larsson has not prevented Celtic Football Club from continuing to exist. Just as there are players whom the support will mourn, there are also players whose exit would barely muster a response. Yet paradoxically, there is a man at Celtic Park whose impending departure may actually be more of a talking point than Kris Commons.. We are of course talking about Efe Ambrose.

Efe is a strange footballer, a weird hybrid of defensive prowess and ball playing skills offset by concentration problems and a lack of focus. So bad is this lack of focus that the Nigerian born defender has been involved in some of the most calamitous scenes ever witness on the field of play at Celtic Park. Yet when Efe first joined the club, hopes were high that he would be able to make the same kind of impact that a certain Victor Wanyama had the previous season. Celtic's swoop for Efe was widely publicised as part of the club's "buy em cheap, sell em steep" policy, a high stakes game of chance where a cheaply bought young player would be moulded into a multi-million pound target for a club with cash on the hip. Of course the risks of such a strategy are well documented and the deal to sign Efe was no different. Perhaps not even the most pessimistic of Celtic fans could predict just how badly things would go wrong for the player when he joined his new club in the summer of 2012.

Things started brightly with a 2-0 win over Dundee in his debut and Efe scored his first goal for the club in a stunning 5-0 rout of St.Mirren. Celebrations in Scottish football are normally of the cheeky variety but the big Nigerian showed his acrobatic class with a quadruple somersault and Celtic fans seemed destined to take the new man to their hearts. Of course nothing is guranteed in football and pretty quickly things began to take a turn for the worse. An own goal against Dundee United saw the beginnings of Efe's downfall, with the player bravely admitting he was 100% at fault. After being part of a stunning 2-1 win against Barcelona Celtic were drawn against Juventus in the last 16 and what happened next is the subject of much debate. Efe has been abroad with Nigeria, winning the African Cup of Nations and his return had been just three days after playing the full 90 minutes in the final. Celtic manager Neil Lennon opted to play him and it cost Celtic two goals and without a doubt any chance of an upset over the two legs. Efe was criticized by Kris Commons and the Celtic fans were beginning to wonder if their centre half could be trusted to do the basics.

Some fans blame Efe for the Juventus disaster and others point the finger squarely at Neil Lennon but what everyone does agree on is that the tie marked the beginning of the end for the defender and what followed was a collection of catastrophes that had Celtic fans shuddering at the very name "Efe Ambrose" Goals have been lost repeatedly due to the defenders poor positioning, lack of focus and general lax attitude in games. Strangely the player seemed bulletproof and neither Neil Lennon or his successor Ronny Deila seemed to have a problem pitching the player into the big games, with often quite seriously dire consequences. Towards the end of Ronny Deila's reign, more and more Celtic fans were at their wits end with Efe and wondered just how many high profile blunders the player would need to make in order to be dropped from the team indefinitely. As it happened, they wouldn't need to wait much longer to find out.

Brendan Rodgers, to his eternal credit gave Efe a chance when he became Celtic manager but more blunders saw the defender dropped to the bench, then eventually out of the squad entirely. Standard Liege had a £300,000 bid accepted in the August transfer window but he decided to remain at Celtic Park and fight for his place. As things stand, the Nigerian is finished at the club and even injuries to our first choice central defenders is unlikely to see Brendan recall the error prone player. No one is questioning his desire or his work rate at Celtic but the facts speak for themselves and unfortunately for Efe Ambrose, he has made one mistake too many.

Hail Hail

Will you be sad to see Efe Ambrose leave? Let us know in the comments.

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