Five Things We Learnt From Celtic’s Defeat Against AC Milan

Yesterday had a strange feeling surrounding the game in that it almost felt like the Cluj away match in the group stage last season when we had already qualified. On that occasion the result was more a matter of pride than huge concern and I think last night was similar for many fans, not just because 10 in a row and the quadruple treble are priorities ahead of the Europa League, but because of the circumstances with recent performances and the Glasgow Derby defeat.

I have never watched a Celtic match without the result being my primary concern. However, last night I just wanted to see signs of change, a good performance and some enthusiasm on the pitch. Those signs were there at the start, disappeared and then re-emerged in the second half with a change of shape.

So what did we learn?

  1. 4-2-3-1 is a much more suitable formation for the players at our disposal. Our best spell of the game was with this shape in place and ended the square pegs in round holes approach of recent weeks. The system gave us more of an attacking threat by having wingers, with full backs overlapping, rather than just one wing back on each side.
  2. Regardless of the different variations on formations, four at the back is required as we have a slow centre back in Shane Duffy, who cannot be getting dragged out wide to full back areas. Having a back four suits our central defenders and also protects the wide areas more than having a wing back who can be exploited or doubled up on.
  3. Scott Brown and Olivier Ntcham can’t play together. I’ve often felt that these two being in the same side stifles the creativity. It’s got to be one or the other to work. A midfield of Brown, Ntcham and McGregor is not creative enough and is a combination of players who are too similar. Particularly in Scottish football, the deeper sitting duo of Ntcham and Brown is not needed.
  4.  Tom Rogic brings the creative spark that we’ve been missing. His vision, killer passes, link up play and skill unlocks defences so well and is an excellent connection from midfield to attack. Both he and Christie make a huge difference to us in forward areas.
  5. If Lennon insists on the 3-5-2 then it must only be played with two proper strikers. The 3-5-1-1 nonsense does not work. There was a marked difference in the opening stages of the game with Griffiths and Ajeti up front together, rather than a midfielder like Elyounoussi playing behind Klimala.

Taking those points on board, along with the excellent performance of Laxalt, I put out this Tweet with a team that I’d personally pick for the weekend (a case could be made for Turnbull or Ntcham to replace Brown)

About Author

Hailing from an Irish background, I grew up on the English south coast with the good fortune to begin watching Celtic during the Martin O'Neill era. I have written four Celtic books since the age of 19: Our Stories & Our Songs: The Celtic Support, Take Me To Your Paradise: A History Of Celtic-Related Incidents & Events, Walfrid & The Bould Bhoys: Celtic's Founding Fathers, First Season & Early Stars, and The Holy Grounds of Glasgow Celtic: A Guide To Celtic Landmarks & Sites Of Interest. These were previously sold in Waterstones and official Celtic FC stores, and are now available on Amazon.

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