Three main talking points after Celtic’s impressive 4-1 win over Hibs at Celtic Park last night…
1. Players respond to managers words at the weekend
We have heard a lot of discussion in the media this week about how it took an angry intervention from Brendan Rodgers at half time against St Johnstone at the weekend to shake this Celtic team out of their slumber and drive them towards a much needed three points and tonight proved the players have listened.
The manager asked for more intensity and he got it right from kick off tonight in what has to be up there with one of our best performances this season. We showed pace and urgency on the ball tonight and a real hunger to win the ball back whilst out of possession, something I have to say has definitely been lacking recently.
It was clear every player out there tonight has realised they need to do more than just turn up to win these games. If they continue to play like this throughout the rest of the season they will get their reward as I don’t see our rivals across the city being good enough to claw back the points deficit as the new manager boost they got from appointing Clement seems to be be evaporating already.
2. McGregor looks better in a more advanced position
The manager started Tomoki Iwata as our holding midfielder tonight which allowed our captain to play further up the field and I think it was a decision that not only benefitted Callum himself but also the team as a whole. Iwata played the CDM role perfectly, breaking plays up when we were out of possession and always being available for a pass when in possession, often helping to build up play as we moved forward.
This left Callum McGregor with more freedom to stray forward, often finding himself in dangerous attacking positions and being more involved in the play in and around our opponents box. I really hope our manager sticks with this decision over the next few games as I think more time playing this formation together will only help bring out even more improvement in all three of our midfield players McGregor, Iwata and O’Riley.
3. Talk of Oh not being good enough really should be put to bed after tonight’s performance
Many will have been surprised to see Oh start ahead of fan favourite Kyogo tonight but I was really pleased to see the manager make such a big call and think it was needed. Kyogo is a special talent but he shouldn’t be spared criticism when necessary and he hasn’t been at his best lately, often anonymous in games and also missing clear cut chances when presented with them.
Now I agree the way we have been playing maybe hasn’t suited the Japanese striker and also he has gave us more than enough over the years that he should be supported when not firing on all cylinders but it was also good to see Oh being handed his chance from the start.
I thought he was superb tonight and deserved his man of the match award. He provides something totally different to our attack and it was clear to see the Hibs defence didn’t enjoy marking him tonight, he was a real handful throughout.
His first goal was just being in the right place at ths right time but his second was a thing of beauty, something I haven’t saw a Celtic forward do in quite a while. He showed great physicality to out muscle the Hibs defender before unleashing a fantastic strike which gave the goalkeeper no chance. I have to say it reminded me a lot of a prime John Hartson goal.
His overall play was great. He often drags players out of position and Matt O’Riley’s goal had a lot to do with how Oh run to the front post opened up the space in behind which the Danish international spotted instantly. It’s great to see a Celtic forward with this type of physicality and awareness and definitely provides our manager with different options.
I have been a fan of Oh from the start and genuinely think the only way is up for this young lad. It just feels like he’s one of those players who will continue to improve rapidly with the more experience he acquires and the more he settles in Scotland.