Celtic “now on a good vibe” says centre-half Christopher Jullien as he takes pop at people who think winning trophies is easy
Sometimes teams can ride out injuries to their imposing centre-halves. Take Liverpool for example.
Forced to be without Virgil van Dijk after a knee operation, Jurgen Klopp’s side have simply strengthened their hold on the English league title.
Celtic struggled slightly more obviously without Christopher Jullien while he was absent with a back problem at the start of the season. They certainly missed him in the first Old Firm derby of the season when they fell so limply at home to Rangers in October.
Defensive problems continued to blight Neil Lennon’s side in the subsequent 3-3 draw with Aberdeen and 4-1 home defeat to Sparta Prague. Things were getting so desperate that when Jullien did return, for the Betfred Cup clash with Ross County, not even his presence was enough to bring them out of this slough of despond.
That was the nadir of the campaign so far but slowly and surely the champions have been putting together a run of results that have kept them in touch with Rangers at the top of the Premiership while also helping keep Neil Lennon in a job. Jullien has been instrumental in this. Celtic have kept back-to-back clean sheets in the league for the first time since the start of October. They have another two games to negotiate against Hamilton this afternoon and Dundee United on Wednesday before they face the toughest task of all against Rangers at Ibrox a week today.
Jullien’s continued availability seems imperative if Celtic are to make inroads in Rangers’ current 16-point lead, although there is the not inconsiderable matter of the Parkhead side’s three games in hand to factor in. Much remains to be played for.
“I was watching when I was out,” said the French centre-half. “It’s just how it is when you are stuck in front of the TV. It’s hard, but I was trying to stay in touch with my-mates and tell them I was still there with them even though I couldn’t play.
“I still have the confidence we would turn things around. It was definitely a difficult time. And I know in football there are some bad runs sometimes and you just have to bounce back.
“That’s the quality you can see in a good footballer. The quality to bounce back when things are not so good. I really have the feeling that we are now on a good vibe.”
Jullien believes fans need to take into account the relative youth of the team and the fact that wining trophies, as much as it became a habit for Celtic, is not as straightforward as it might look.
“Nine in a row and winning so many trophies is very difficult, but people are thinking that it is just easy because it is Celtic,” he said. “That’s what the coach tells us every day, that it’s not easy. Sometimes I would like to give my boots to other people and let them come onto the field and see what the pressure feels like.”
Jullien believes Celtic have now overcome the football equivalent of the yips. “Can I sense a freedom now? Yeah, you can see it now,” he said.
“You can see it on the field. You can see it seems easy when everyone is positive, and we go in the one direction.”
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