Noel Whelan has slammed Glasgow Rangers’ Leon Balogun following his performance in the Old Firm derby on Sunday.
Whelan slams Balogun
Balogun was selected to play at right-back in the absence of James Tavernier against Celtic. In what was an unfamiliar position for the 32-year-old, he struggled to deal with the Bhoys’ attacks on that side of the back four.
Speaking to Football Insider, Whelan was particularly critical of the Nigerian’s display as he said:
“They massively missed Tavernier. If you’ve got a player like that missing, you’re missing your captain, your leader.
“You could see Celtic targeting that as well. They could see there was a weak link in the defence and that’s where it was.
“When you’re missing a key player like Tavernier, you’re gonna feel it. Celtic, fair play to them, they recognised that and used it to their advantage.
“I think it showed just how much they miss him and just how good he is in that department. He gives you everything, defensively, in midfield, quality going forward.”
Hard to disagree
There is no doubting that Balogun was out of his depth, as Whelan has hinted. He was taken off after just 56 minutes to be replaced by 19-year-old Nathan Patterson, who had been an injury doubt in the build-up to the game (Daily Record). Clearly, Steven Gerrard’s decision to play the Nigeria international in that role backfired, even though he did move to justify Balogun’s inclusion afterwards and praised him for his “fantastic” involvement in Alfredo Morelos’ equaliser (rangers.co.uk).
Have you been impressed with Balogun this season?
Obviously, the absence of James Tavernier is a big blow to the 55-time Scottish champions. With 17 goals and 15 assists in all competitions (Transfermarkt), he has been a huge attacking threat, while he has also contributed defensively to a team which has conceded just 10 goals in the league this season (BBC). Balogun may be an experienced defender, but he was always going to have a hard time replacing the Gers captain.
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