Efe Ambrose has become a figure of fun at Celtic, but now Hoops fans are starting to think that the defender is beyond a joke and a ticking time bomb; a disastrous defender incapable of executing simple manoeuvres that have cost his club in some of their biggest matches. Especially after another calamitous display against Barcelona last weekend.
After the centre-half scored a comical own goal in Dublin and got nutmegged for the third in a 3-1 defeat, Parkhead punters are becoming worried about more future bomb scare behaviour. Even more so now with the Champions League.
Even though the Nigerian is not expected to be part of the long-term plans for Celtic, an early departure would heighten the need to bring in cover after it was revealed that Ambrose was a £1.5 million target for Bayer Leverkusen.
No doubt that this news will have been met with both delight, that a fee so high could be raised, and astonishment, that a Bundesliga giant would ever countenance a move for someone who appears to be so prone to errors.
However, the fact that Ambrose is still playing leaves one overriding question: is it fair that he’s still on the pitch?
Last weekend, Ambrose just had one of those brain-failure moments, and if it were a one-off then maybe it could have been excused if not condoned.
However, this is not a one-off occasion. It happens time and time again, and not in just pre-season friendlies, but in some crucial games for the club. It’s happened in the last 16 Champions League under Neil Lennon against Juventus, and in the Europa League under the management of Ronny Deila. In fact, it even happened in Brendan Rodgers’ very first competitive game of the season against the minnows of Lincoln Red Imps, which relegated Celtic to an embarrassing loss which could have been avoided with just a little more care.
In saying this, maybe Ambrose doesn’t deserve all the stick he’s gotten for his all round game. It was a bit harsh of fans in the Main stand to cheer, hound and ironically applaud him when he went off and was replaced by Jamie McCart after an hour into the game against Barcelona.
Although he makes mistakes, it is worthy of mentioning that the defender is never injured, unlike others, and he never misses a training session. He always gives his best and is not one to complain about being hawked around from one position to another.
Not to mention the fact that he was originally signed as a holding midfielder and only ended up at centre-back due
to the fact that Victor Wanyama could not be dropped because his performances were so impressive.
Unfortunately, the reason why Ambrose does get so much stick is because the horror errors come too often and too big to ignore.
After Celtic won against the Kazakhs on Wednesday, they now go into the next stage of the Champions League and they are guaranteed at least six group matches in either that competition or the Europa League.
Despite everything going on with Ambrose, Celtic are looking as quick and as sharp as they have done so far this term. In particular, captain Scott Brown’s performance is much more like his old self: pressing the ball, pushing his players and even having some cracks at goal. Not to mention the fact that the last two games have lifted their fitness levels.
Fans can only hope that there are no more bomb scares from Ambrose, and Rodgers has to decide if he can afford to take that gamble again by putting him back on the pitch.
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