Disappointing XI

For every Odsonne Edouard coming into the club, exceeding what we ask of him game after game, there is a Marvin Compper who just sort of… exists. The word ‘flop’ is thrown around when discussing this topic but some players do just, well, flop. I’m Stephen Russell (@SJRussell23) and joining me to discuss Celtic’s most disappointing XI are Matt Evans (@SkylandsCSC) and David Flanigan (@davflan).

Given the sheer amount of players that can come into a football club and fall short in so many different ways, we have decided that these teams will be made up on how disappointing a player was over how bad or out of their depth they were. This can be judged based on the expectations held beforehand and how poorly they lived up to them – how let down you felt by them. To further help the decisions, we have given our writers some rules to follow.

  • Regardless of signing date, the player must have played for Celtic in the 21st century.
  • The player must have played at least 10 games for Celtic.
  • Both teams will be a flat 442 and the most disappointing team will be decided by a Twitter poll.

Before we start, Matt has included the following note:

The original assignment was to pick a worst-eleven for Celtic, the criteria being ‘who disappointed the most?’. My creative interpretation was that this would be a squad of players who were shite for Celtic but otherwise at least useful at their other clubs. If you call that cheating, well, leaving Henrik Larsson off my best eleven incurred me enough wrath that I’m happy to continue my heel turn here. Another note: A weirdly high number of my forwards scored on their Celtic debuts, which makes their ultimate shiteness even harder to take.

GK

EVANS: Dorus de Vries. Lunchlady Dorus came to Glasgow fresh off a spell as Nottingham Forest’s player of the season. Sure, they finished sixteenth. But de Vries only allowed 47 goals against while being extremely durable, and if Forest had a better attack they could have challenged for a playoff position. So we thought that at the very least we were getting a competent challenge to Craig Gordon. Nope. After a dreadful 2-2 draw in Inverness, de Vries was hooked at halftime of the next match. His poor performance against Zenit in the Europa League sealed his fate as the worst Celtic keeper of the millennium. 

FLANIGAN: Magnus Hedman. Every great team has a problem position; an Achilles heel, and for O’Neill’s Celtic team this was goalkeeper. With the arguably underrated Rab Douglas consistently under fire from fans and the press, Celtic moved for Swedish international Hedman from Coventry in the summer of 2002. Despite his pedigree and reputation, Hedman would make only a handful of appearance for Celtic over three seasons following high-profile clangers against both Lyon and Bayern Munich in the Champions League whilst Rab Douglas would contest the UEFA Cup Final in Seville.

LEFT BACK

EVANS: Mo Camara. One of the many players in this team who completely failed to build on his success at other clubs. As an energetic but technically deficient winger, he was either on a pedestal or in the doghouse at Wolves and Burnley, but impressed enough with those clubs that he was deemed fit to take a step up and play at Celtic. Work out it did not, as might be expected from a 30-year-old left back. His debut was in the 5-0 defeat to Artmedia, a bad omen if there ever was one. He quickly played his way out of the lineup, and was gone at the end of his first season.

FLANIGANEdson Braafheid. Signed from Bayern Munich on deadline day of the infamous January 2010 transfer window, on paper, Braafheid was a highly promising solution to a problem position. Rather unhelpfully, football is not played on paper. In under four months, Braafheid accumulated a charge sheet that included: scoring directly from an indirect free kick at Tynecastle, going AWOL after being left out of a match day squad and being responsible one of the most the inexplicable penalty concessions in recent memory in a 4-4 draw at Pittodrie. He would astonishingly go on to appear in the 2010 World Cup Final barely three months after not making the squad for the Scottish Cup semi-final against Ross County. A truly baffling footballer.

CENTRE BACK

EVANS: Daniel Majstorovic. Celtic haven’t had too many shite centre-backs that qualify for this list, and Maj wasn’t shite so much as he was not really that good. Like others in this team, he came to Celtic later in his career but with a very decent pedigree, having played for Malmo, AEK Athens and Basel. No world-beaters there but clubs in and around Celtic’s level in Europe. He was even given the captain’s armband on a number of early occasions, but ultimately his slowness and poor aerial ability, as well as a couple of grody injuries, ended his time in Glasgow. Well remembered as a man, but not much of a player.

FLANIGAN: Jack Hendry. Disappointment is entirely contextual. Some players on this list failed to live up to their pedigree, transfer cost or early promise, others quite simply fail to meet the minimum expectation for a Celtic player. It’s arguably jumping the gun to include Hendry on this list, even if he resoundingly fulfils the latter category. In 18 months and 26 appearances since signing from Dundee, the allegedly-promising Hendry has yet to look anything close to the part and seems set for another season rotting in the reserves. Thank God he’s handsome.

CENTRE BACK

EVANS: Olivier Tebily. The original Bombscare! Evocative generally of John Barnes’ tenure of the club, Tebily had a lot of talent but concentration lapses cost him time and time again. Tebily might be a similar case to his teammate in this squad, Marc-Antoine Fortune, in that he was highly rated and expensive with some success in Ligue 2 and a quick stint in England. Someone must have seen something to pay Sheffield United over a million pound for Tebily, but hopefully that someone paid Celtic back. Tebily was finished as a Celtic starter shortly after Barnes was, with Martin O’Neill realizing he had much better options available.

FLANIGANGlenn Loovens. July 2000, Celtic famously pipped Rangers to the signing of 6’2” centre-half Joos Valgaeren who would become a mainstay in Martin O’Neill’s Treble winners and would play in the UEFA Cup Final in Seville.
August 2008, Celtic infamously pipped Rangers to the signing of 6’2” centre-half Glenn Loovens who would become regular Old Firm cannon fodder for Kenny Miller. Despite a minor renaissance late in season 2011-12 and a steady career in the English lower-leagues since, injuries and a series of erratic displays in high-profile matches prevented Loovens’ Celtic career from ever truly gathering steam.

RIGHT BACK

EVANS: Efrain Juarez. Players from Central and South America are rare indeed in Scotland, and with work permit issues, it’s not easy to bring them over. So when Celtic paid a reported few million quid to bring Juarez to Glasgow from Mexico, fans could be forgiven for thinking that he might have been a real find. He had a lightning start, with goals in both of Celtic’s futile European ties. And then came the international break, and if you don’t know the story, it ended up with a party so raging it earned Juarez an international ban by the Mexican FA. All downhill from there as luminaries Adam Matthews and Cha Du-Ri kept him out of the squad. Coda: After going back to the Americas, Juarez now plies his trade in Norway for our old friend Ronny Deila.

FLANIGANJeremy Toljan. A January deadline day from Borussia Dortmund, Toljan looked like the perfect solution for Celtic’s over-reliance on an ageing Mikael Lustig at right back, arriving with U21 World Cup Winner’s medal and more than a handful of Bundesliga appearances.A series of vacant, featureless displays and a sending off away to Valencia later, Lustig was back in the team and eventually heading Odsonne Edouard clean through in the Scottish Cup Final to seal the Treble Treble. Both would leave Celtic in the summer, Lustig was modern Celtic icon, Toljan was a court artist’s impression of a footballer.
Where’s ma right back?” He was by our side all along.

LEFT MIDFIELDER

EVANS: Derk Boerrigter. At first, I was going to leave this useless arsehole off the list, reasoning that he was shite everywhere he played. But first of all, Celtic spent a lot of money for him, so just based on his price tag alone, he had a lot of potential and turned out a huge bust. Secondly, he came out of the vaunted Ajax youth system. So what if he never kicked a baw for their first team, a lot of their talented youth never do. He had a couple solid seasons in Holland, enough that Ajax wanted him back, and he paid them off with a very decent performance. That was it for his decency, however, as he moved to Celtic, was injured on his debut, then injured again, then banned two games in his second season for diving. And that about finished an utterly awful Celtic career.

FLANIGAN: Derk Boerrigter. Half an hour into a sublime home debut against Ross County, 2013’s star summer signing from Ajax, Derk Boerrigter is forced off with an injury, and so it began. There are injury-prone footballers, and then there’s Derk Boerrigter.Appearing sporadically throughout 2013-14 and the early weeks of 2014-15, Boerrigter would soon disappear into another dimension, Homer at the Bat Ozzie Smith-style, never to be seen in a Celtic jersey again. A solitary goal, a ban for diving, and a song about his allegedly monolithic genitalia are the paltry spoils of Derk’s Celtic career. The Boa Constrictor, we hardly knew yee.

CENTRE MIDFIELDER

EVANS: Eboue Kouassi. The first inkling Celtic fans had that Kouassi might have been a diamond in the rough was his price tag – a reported £4 million or so from Krasnodar. According to Transfermarkt, at the time he was Celtic’s 18th most expensive signing in history. Never mind that he had almost no footballing pedigree – someone at the club saw enough talent to pay a lot of money for him. He was being talked about as Scott Brown’s replacement. Three seasons later, he’s not even a loanable quantity, with one good showing against Zenit to his credit.

FLANIGAN: Efrain Juarez. A £2m purchase following a decent 2010 World Cup showing as part of Neil Lennon’s initial rebuild, the versatile Mexican was an obvious standout in the opening matches of 2010-11. This early promise withered following a prostitute scandal on international duty and Juarez’s Celtic career was as good as dead in the water. Although he clearly had plenty to offer, it is debatable if Juarez would have maintained his place in the side scandal or not, with the in-form Beram Kayal and Mark Wilson occupying his two main positions. He currently plies his trade in Norway for Ronny Deila’s Valerenga, so it’s not all bad. 

CENTRE MIDFIELDER

EVANS: Evander Sno. This was a tough choice for me. Sno ended up having major cardiac issues during his playing career that he dealt with bravely, and he was probably one of those players who preferred playing at home (in Sno’s case, Holland). But remember that in addition to being a shite eleven, this is a disappointing eleven, and by God was Evander Sno a disappointment. An Ajax academy product who was highly-sought after, Sno might have been a Virgil van Dijk steal after a loan spell at Breda. But ultimately the Scottish game passed him by, similar to the manslaughter charge he beat after his retirement.

FLANIGAN: Juninho. Some would argue that Juninho had the impossible task, such was the weight of responsibility on his shoulder following his transfer from Middlesbrough: replacing Henrik Larsson. Often deployed wide rather than his default position centrally due to Celtic’s wealth of central midfield talent, and despite a bright start on his debut against Rangers, Juninho never hit anything like the form that saw him voted Middlesborough greatest ever footballer, never mind that to emulate Larsson’s influence. Despite winning the 2002 World Cup with Brazil, Juninho was just the first of an ever-growing list of players unfit to bear the Magnificent 7.

RIGHT MIDFIELDER

EVANS: Kenny Miller. First of all, fuck this guy, but second of all, you can’t argue he’s been a useful tool for almost every other team in the Scottish Premiership. To give you an idea of how disappointing he was at Celtic at age 26, he had a similar scoring record in hoops (10 in 38) than he did for Dundee at age 38 (8 in 35). And he absolutely rained goals in for Rangers. While there were a couple of sparks from him in a European campaign, he was little to no use in Scotland – for us, anyway.

FLANIGANAleksander Tonev. Initially linked in 2012-13, the signing of Aleksander Tonev on a season’s loan from Aston Villa in Ronny Deila’s first transfer window appeared to be a scrupulous and fairly risk free piece of business. If only we’d known. A right winger in more ways than one, Tonev is remembered solely for being found guilty for racially abusing Aberdeen’s Shay Logan during a match at Celtic Park, such was his footballing non-contribution. There have been few emptier Celtic jerseys than the one emblazoned with Aleksander Tonev’s name and number.

STRIKER

EVANS: Marc-Antoine Fortuné. The Frenchman kicked around Ligue 2 for a few years before breaking into the top leagues in Holland and France. You looked at his career and saw a slow but steady rise. When he moved to West Brom for a six-month loan and lit up The Hawthorns, and then signed for Celtic, Hoops fans had every reason to be excited at their pricey signing. But after a quick start, he missed two months due to injury and thus Marc-Antoine’s fortunes declined with the rest of that shite Mowbray team. Neil Lennon would arrive the following season along with better forwards.

FLANIGANMarc-Antoine Fortuné. Hopes were high when Celtic paid an eye-watering £3.8m to make Fortune Tony Mowbray’s marquee signing, having had him for a season at West Brom. However, a series of gilt-edged misses on his debut, a home defeat to Dinamo Moscow was a sign of things to come, Fortune was a clearly able footballer, with one glaringly obvious weakness: finishing. As a striker, this was something of an issue, with Celtic having spent Peter Lawwell’s grandweans’ inheritance on a forward who would only score the odd thunderbastard. Mowbray stuck to his guns, and his preference for Fortune and a partner at the expense of the prolific Scott McDonald was just one of several fatal errors that would eventually cost him his job.

STRIKER

EVANS: Teemu Pukki. Every time I see this guy’s name come up on the scoresheet for Norwich City, I get a little twitch in my eyelid. The Finn came to Celtic from Schalke, where he had a half-decent goalscoring record as Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s backup. No surprise Pukki lacked for game time, and he should have kicked on at Celtic. Instead, he was a poor fit for both the physical rigors of Scottish football, as well as the unique pressure of playing at Celtic. I distinctly remember him missing a sitter in Europe and the camera cutting to Neil Lennon on the sideline. You could clearly read his lips: “Fuck’s SAKE Teemu!” His eventual success at Brondby and then down south can only be ascribed to him doing a reverse Samson and embracing his baldness.

FLANIGANMo Bangura. Anyone who may not believe it possible that a footballer’s career could be summed up in a four word tweet has clearly never bore witness to: “89. Bangura shoots wide”. Allegedly signed on the recommendation of Henrik Larsson, Bangura was the signing that made Anthony Stokes look like Brazilian Ronaldo, Thierry Henry and Ivica Strok all rolled into one by comparison. 16 appearances for Celtic, two against Celtic for Elfsborg whilst on loan from Celtic, without even the vague semblance of a goal to speak of. Credit where it’s due however, Mo Bangura made Celtic fans doubt Henrik Larsson, and that takes immeasurable talent.

CONCLUSION

Instead of giving these teams a manager and having them go head to head, we’d like a public vote on which squad is the most disastrous, the most disappointment filled XI to (thankfully) never take to the field. The poll will be on our Twitter account, @90MinuteCynic. May the worst team win!

MATT EVANS

DAVID FLANIGAN

Two very disastrous teams, indeed. Personally, I’m struggling to separate them. If they played a knockout game of football, my guess would be for it to end up an eternal penalty shootout, both sides consistently missing for the rest of time. I’d also like to suggest we get both right midfielders SO far to fuck. Glorious work from Dave and Matt – I’ve had an awful time remembering some of these calamities so I’m off to watch Henrik Larsson clips on YouTube to cheer myself up.

Want to weigh in on the debate, or just have some ideas you’d like to put forward? Talk to us in the comments below, on the Patreon app or on Twitter @90MinuteCynic or @SJRussell23. For hours of podcast audio, covering every aspect of Celtic from every angle, subscribe to our Patreon service at www.patreon.com/90minutecynic.


Despite growing up, and now studying, in England, Celtic have always been a huge part of my life. I first watched the team with my dad; I fell in love and then there was no turning back. Torn between a statistically enhanced footballing style and a good, old-fashioned get-it-in-the-mixer-and-score style.


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