Opinion: Callum McGregor Playing The Holding Role Is Crucial To Celtic Success

This comment may go against what a lot of people say, but I don’t think that Callum McGregor is wasted in the deeper midfield role. I think he’s outstanding in that position and he can still venture forward at times. There’s no rule that says you have to be glued to the deepest position and we saw evidence of that with his thunderous strike against the upright when Real Madrid were in town.

Ross County v Celtic – Premier Sports Cup – Second Round – Global Energy Stadium Celtic s Callum McGregor celebrates scoring their side s first goal of the game during the Premier Sports Cup second round match at the Global Energy Stadium, Dingwall. Picture date: Wednesday August 31, 2022. Photo: Trevor Martin

With the attacking exploits of Matt O’Riley and the box to box energy of Reo Hatate, not much is lost by keeping McGregor at number 6. However, a great deal has been lost whenever he has been selected to play in a more advanced position, in terms of his phenomenal passing ability which enables us to break the lines and move from a defensive position to an attacking one with one incisive trademark McGregor pass.

Our captain has a wonderful ability to control the tempo of Celtic’s play, showing quick intent as he collects the ball from the backline and serves as the spine of our attack. That intent was lacking when the much slower Mooy occupied the holding position. Indeed, it was very noticeable when McGregor was not in defensive midfield – a good barometer of a player’s influence.

Glasgow, Scotland, 6th September 2022. Toni Kroos of Real Madrid and Celtic captain Callum McGregor during the UEFA Champions League Group F match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. Photo: Neil Hanna / Sportimage 

Perhaps the acquisition of Abildgaard will change the reliance on McGregor being Celtic’s dictator, but until such time as he’s proven then it is a must that the Scotsman starts in crucial games. Today is certainly one such game.

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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.

1 Comment

  1. Ange has realised that he slightly boobed at Love Street. No such mistake today, as Celts could and should win by four or more goals. Will be in my usual seat, shouting the Bhoys on . I do really expect Celtic to score a right few goals today, to shut up that midden Kris the gob Boyd., !!!!