Neil Lennon Explains Inspiration Behind 3-5-2 Switch

Neil Lennon spoke to Celtic TV this afternoon, giving his media conference ahead of the weekend’s trip to Pittodrie. On the back of last night’s drubbing, the subject of Celtic’s astounding form since Lennon’s switch to a 3-5-2 formation was raised. Yet, surprisingly, the change appears to have less to do with tactical adjustment and more to do with an injury crisis!

Thinking that perhaps the Celtic boss had been inspired from the outside footballing world, one reporter asked Lennon if the 3-5-2 shape was based upon Antonio Conte’s success using the formation at Juventus, Chelsea and now Inter Milan to great effect. Unfortunately for the journalist, the Hoops gaffer had a much less exciting explanation: “To be honest it was because we had a lot of wingers out injured at the time,” Lennon said.

Lennon was of course the backbone of a superb 3-5-2 team in his playing days with the club, and this was something he gave a nod to: “We felt it was something we could look at. I played under Martin O’Neill in that system for a long, long time as well, so it can work. Conte’s Juventus was very successful and he’s doing it again at Inter. Obviously he won the Premier League with Chelsea so he’s sort of mastered it.” Despite the Celtic manager’s comments and the success of the shape, which has allowed Celtic to score 19 goals in five matches of using the formation, Lennon said: “It’s not set in stone for us going forward this season. We’ll see how we go with it.”

When pushed to expand upon the benefits of the new style, Neil Lennon did give a little more detail: “We felt we were maybe getting a bit stale with the 4-3-3, but we can always go back to that. We’re flexible with the way we play. It gets the best out of the strikers. All of a sudden you start building partnerships. We’ve got three really strong centre-backs, and it gives you the three in midfield. If you’ve got pace wide, which we do, you can utilise that as well. Greg Taylor had an outstanding game last night, one of the best since he’s been here; and I like the style of football that it brings, more possession-based.”

The full media conference can be seen on Youtube, below:

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About Author

Hailing from an Irish background, I grew up in Bournemouth with the good fortune to begin watching Celtic during the Martin O'Neill era. Still living on the south coast, I have a season ticket at Paradise and also travel to European away matches when possible. 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/are sold in Waterstones and official Celtic FC stores, and are available on Amazon.

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