Celtic were knocked out of the Champions League qualifiers on Tuesday night.
Chris Sutton has told the Daily Record that Neil Lennon will have left Callum McGregor and Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo devastated by the decision to play the former at left-back for Celtic’s Champions League qualifier with Cluj on Tuesday night.
The Hoops are now looking to force their way into the group-stages of the Europa League after the Romanian side came to Parkhead and won 4-3 in a quite incredible game to go through to the play-off round.
The game appears to have left plenty of Celtic fans adamant that Lennon is not the right man to take the club forward. Regardless of whether that is a fair assessment or not, he certainly did make some questionable decisions, including picking McGregor ahead of Bolignoli-Mbombo at left-back.
McGregor has been Celtic’s best player over the last year. And while he has often still managed to shine when deployed on the left-hand side of the defence, it is obviously in the middle of the park where he has been at his most influential.
It was a gamble that did not pay off this week however, and Sutton suggested that Lennon will have a difficult task picking up the pieces with both players involved likely to be disappointed.
“If I was McGregor then I’d be devastated. This is a boy who was wanted by a top-half Premier League team because of his midfield talents and told he couldn’t leave because he was too important to Celtic,” he told the Daily Record.
“Yet he ends up shunted out of his best position in a huge game. It killed him and you would imagine it has done the same to Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo.
“Signed as the left-back for £3million, it was a move which must have told him that he couldn’t be trusted in the big game.”
It would actually be a big surprise if the decision had a negative impact on McGregor’s form. He has been one of the Scottish Premiership’s best and most consistent performers over the last 12 months, and it is difficult to imagine that he will let his standards drop.
However, he would be forgiven for contemplating his future over the coming months. He is arguably coming into his prime, so if he does want to play in the Premier League one day, he may be reluctant to wait too much longer before looking to leave.
And with the hurdle of the Champions League qualifiers tripping Celtic up once again while they continue to dominate the domestic game, McGregor may be wondering that little bit more after Tuesday’s defeat whether he has achieved almost all he can at Parkhead – if he is keen to ply his trade elsewhere.