4 at the back, Shane, Neil and Gordon


We got a fascinating insight into the complex layers of management through comments before, during and after the game from Gordon Strachan, and post-match from Neil Lennon.  Before kick-off, Gordon was asked about Neil’s decision to play three at the back, a formation that was exploited at the weekend (and praised by me last month).

Our former boss, once manager to Neil Lennon, father of Gavin, now a Celtic first team coach, deflected.  “I’m not the manager.”  Gordon was there as a pundit, but pulled his punch on this occasion and again at halftime.  After the second half, when Celtic improved significantly with four at the back, Gordon declined to judge the starting formation harshly, postulating that we will never know what would have happened had Celtic started with four at the back.

Then Neil Lennon explained what Gordon Strachan almost certainly knew before the match.  His choice was not to start with three at the back, but he did not have fit personnel to start and play the majority of a game with four in defence, specifically, a wide right forward.  Ryan Christie was not allowed to leave his home for two weeks, at this level, that is a long time without training.

A few weeks ago, we discussed that it was absurd that tens of thousands of Celtic fans knew something to be an absolute truth, which Neil Lennon was oblivious to (think central mid).  We agreed (I’m sure we did) that this is nonsense.  Instead, we had to accept that the manager sees complex layers that we do not.  Who knew there were concerns about the match fitness of Ryan Christie, apart from Gordon Strachan, of course?

It will be four at the back whenever fitness permits.  The two central defenders will be Kristoffer Ajer (who was immense last night) and Christopher Jullien.  Shane Duffy is struggling.  At 28, there is plenty of fuel in the tank, so he may find form, but right now he looks like a player on the bus out of Brighton.  Some you win.

In football, or in life generally, the direction of travel is often more important that your absolute position.  Are things getting better, or are they getting worse?  Therein lies whatever consolation there was in defeat to a superior Milan last night.  It was still a defeat, but losing to a better team while competing for large periods of the game, is better than being schooled by a team of never-won-anythings.

We did no more to Milan than Motherwell will do to us next month, but that direction of travel offers some consolation ahead of Sunday.

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  1. FAVOURITE UNCLE on 23rd October 2020 2:19 pm



    How very dare you!! Disagreeing with the oracle will only result in punishment and lines.



    Write out 100 times,



    Madmitch is not a boorish opinionated pain in the arse,


    he is in fact the font of all knowledge and we should worship at his altar.

  2. Losing soft goals at CP in European ties due to defensive errors has been the norm for years.


    You can put your house on at least one of the following happening:



    1. The opposition scores in the first 5-10 minutes due to a slack pass out from or across the back.


    2. The opposition scores in their first counter attack after a promising period of pressure from us.


    3. We fight our way back into a game and almost instantly undo all the good work by gifting a goal at the other end.

  3. DeniaBhoy on 23rd October 2020 2:56 pm



    Sadly 100% correct, can’t remember the last time we did not ship at least one soft goal in a tie we lost.



    From European perspective I’d gladly do a catenaccio if we could work out how to do it.


    TIMMY7_NOTED on 23RD OCTOBER 2020 2:55 PM



    Thanks for the advise. Now did he write that for you or did you see it on the side of a bus.

  5. FAVOURITE UNCLE on 23rd October 2020 3:01 pm



    No problem mate glad to be of assistance, would hate for you to get on the wrong side of the oracle.



    Just nod and agree we’ll on get on fine.

  6. Please make your opinions count, bhoys and ghirls, posters and lurkers. By 10pm tonight just drop an email with the names of your top 3 performers from last night to CQNPOTY@GMAIL.COM. I’ll even stay off the jungle juice tonight so that I can get the accurate results out just after the polls close. The things I do for this place…… ;-)

  7. Folk can post what they want,but some of the criticism on here, for new signings in particular, is ridiculous, I remember one Scott Brown was not very good for a while after he joined us.

  8. RON BACARDI on 23RD OCTOBER 2020 3:00 PM


    ‘We need a CEO from us CQNers to let Lawwell know what is needed.’







    1. A new ownership model. Otherwise a new majority shareholder who is (a) a Celtic fan and (b) lives here and would attend matches.



    2. A vision of how to take the club forward with a sense of direction and purpose.



    3. A new CEO occupying a less prominet position in a more conventtional management structure.



    Once that’s done the onfield matters can be addressed.



    Anything else will just be history repeating itself.

  9. garygillespieshamstring on




    I would think not, even if for no other reason than NL would probably want to have Alan Thompson and Gary Parker as his team rather than JK and GS.

  10. weebobbycollins on

    GG’sH…I don’t know what happened with AT and GP but I’m sure Neil would probably be happier with those two at his side, possibly including big JM to put the cones out…



    Ffs…starting to sound like MM… :-)

  11. Weebobbycollins



    i met GP in the pub after treble treble and he was saying that he was going to call Neil Lennon to see if there was a potential gig at Celtic (he had no reason to believe there would be but no harm having the chat). The fact he didn’t return suggest to me that Neil did not get free reign on picking staff as those 2 worked together at all other gigs.



    Nice fella



    Here we go, people refusing to believe their eyes because the guy’s the Ireland captain and supports Celtic..”



    ….or maybe because he played in the EPL and we have been led to believe that that is the pinnacle of achievement in football.

  13. weebobbycollins on

    Coneybhoy…yes, they seemed to work well together and I suppose Neil would prefer his own man by his side. I presume PL disagreed…who knows?

  14. An Dun………….you make a good point about Shane Duffy having to baby sit young Welsh and young Frimps very inexperienced when facing the likes if Milan compared to Ajer who had the excellent Laxalt beside. When Shane plays for the Republic he has Mat Doherty Spurs, Semus Coleman Everton and Enda Stephens Sheffield Utd alongside in a back four all top class experienced defenders. I do like young Welsh he has a bright future. Let’s keep our powder dry until Chris Julien is bac hopefully soon and can team up with Duffy in the middle of a back four.



    Hoops played some nice football last night and massive improvement on last Saturday. Great start and of course conceded the usual early goal, nothing new about that. Ajer, Laxalt and the much criticised were tops. I thought Ajeti showed up very well with some nice control and hold up play, he’s getting there. Let’s hope the Uruguan can produce that form in the bread and butter SPFL. would he be in our price range?

  15. The much criticised Olie Ntcham. Sorry Olie left you out of previous post. you had a good game last night just keep doing the same.

  16. I’m no expert, but doesn’t stop me from guessing, and my guess is…


    O’Donnell the former Killie right back, would’ve served us better than Frimpong, who I think would be better moving forward with a right back playing behind him, or Frimpong might be better in the hole behind a lone striker.


    I also think we should’ve gone for the Scotland centre half, Gallagher, when he was at Livingston, I’m guessing that he’d have been better than Duffy.


    I would’ve also gone for the Scotland striker, the fella from Livingstone Dykes(sp) who I think would’ve served us better than either, Klimala, or Ajeti.


    All of the above is guessing. My overall conclusion is that we no longer see ourselves as the under siege team who represent less than 16% of the community. If we lose a grasp of, who we are, and where we come from, then that’s why we seem to find it difficult to form a gel, or be moulded into a unit, a place/club where there’s always work to be done. The psychological effect of having owners who are rich beyond belief, lead’s to a false sense of security, and complacency, and our apathy, led to a willingness to tolerate those owner’s, non action of the Sevco/RFC scandal, which everybody, including Celtic supporter’s, have walked away from and has left a not clean feeling, and I personally could never have imagined the Kelly’s and White’s, and Mr Stein, just meekly moving on, or worse, trying to be, sneaky, shifty, slippery, and cutting deal’s in dark room’s to sweep all of the biggest scandal in football under the carpet, nor the supporter’s of those day’s just shrugging their shoulders and meekly moving on. We’ve forgotten who we are. We now talk about paying extravagant sums of money in fees and wages, for run of the mill player’s. hh

  17. What the team has lacked from the start of the season is balance. The left hand side was a cul de sac and NL would know that better than most.



    So we get a guy who last night (and on Saturday) is a step above and will bring balance to the left.



    Covid fate has dealt us a poor hand ,but not as bad as St Mirren or Kille so far, and unless they have discovered but failed to register they have a vaccine with the NHS (they have form) “The Rangers” will not be immune either. Covid robbed us of a game still to be played and 4 of the first team quad.



    Lack of match fitness another 2 and normal injury 2 more.



    Those aren’t excuses they are reasons.



    Excuses are when you have the power to do the right thing but don’t. Reason are why you know the right thing to do but are powerless to do that and have to do something else.



    Excuses are driven by emotions, reasons by thinking.



    Another thing WGS said last night about “The Rangers” (before the wonder second goal) was that the 3 goals in last two matches came from set play and that is where Celtic need to be wary (when playing them).



    WGS also said ‘Play our best players with the right mental attitude on Sunday.’



    Individuals who come into that category play for Big money clubs.



    So you need a team where there is a mix.



    Best under technical ability for me are







    Eduaord (not fit for Sunday)





    Next with a mix of both:














    Julien (not fit)


    Forrest (not fit)



    More mental attitude than technical


    Brown (susoended?)





    Space fillers


    NtCham (who played better last night)














    So who does NIL pick for Sunday knowing about attitude and skill more than us?



    Last thing, Ajer had a great game last night yet I saw comments on social media criticizing him, there is a lot of confirmation bias going on.



    Last last thing. With 2 minutes to go Liege put a ball into the box that fell to a player in the clear six yards out. It went through his legs in the conditions! Rangers counter and score a wonder goal.



    Thems the margins.





    I would think not, even if for no other reason than NL would probably want to have Alan Thompson and Gary Parker as his team rather than JK and GS.





    Agree – forcing a management team together, if that’s what the situation is, isn’t ideal.






  19. Result in Belgium good for the coefficient and the Scottish game and brings direct entry into the Champions league closer.

  20. HANKRAY on 23RD OCTOBER 2020 4:21 PM


    Result in Belgium good for the coefficient and the Scottish game and brings direct entry into the Champions league closer.





    Aye, but for who??

  21. Do we know for sure that Neil Lennon had no choice on his coaches.



    At the present time i’m afraid Paul Elliot would not help.



    The epl teams are way more compact than we are hence SD is not looking to good we are all over the place.



    Agree with AULDHEID.

  22. Defensive coaches?



    What about Jackie Mac and/or Big Bobo?



    If only for the apoplexy it would induce in Peter Lawwell.

  23. AH @ 3.59



    Have to disagree with you on ON.



    He is a lot better than a space filler — he is our most accomplished MF player.


    If we cannot get the best from him then that is our issue not his.



    Here’s hoping he finds his best form soon.


    He is currently looking a bit lost — too much of his play is phoned in at the moment.

  24. UNCLE JIMMY on 23RD OCTOBER 2020 1:43 PM






    Talking about formations or individual players like Duffy or Barkas is just ignoring the obvious for me.


    We talk ourselves into a standstill with these discussions which never have an agreed outcome – other than we agree to disagree.


    We’re also told that any opinions we have or any conclusions we arrive at are invariably flawed – because we are not privy to all the relevant information: the clear implication is that we don’t now what we’re talking about.


    Those that challenge the orthodoxy of how the club is run are pejoratively dismissed – “huns” often features. For me, that’s like describing the 1994 rebels in similar terms.



    It is time to pull back the curtain & expose to the glare of scrutiny exactly what is being done behind the scenes. I’m tired of being told that we are not informed or smart enough to second guess our betters while at the same time being bombarded with emails & such to spend more money AND being furtively encouraged to accept lower standards & less success.



    That is a type of corporate complacency and is a sickness that eats away at the ethos we should have.


    It’s a self serving process that protects the status quo & is a barrier to any meaningful & real dialogue about the future of the club we all love.


    Until recently I was one of those who had been lulled into a romanticised stupor over the club – like being like one of those cardboard cutouts that some clubs put into seats around their grounds in this pandemic – ironically to represent the fans who aren’t allowed to represent themselves.


    Fans are paying for these cutouts – by the way.


    Perhaps, we should just fill the ground with these cardboard cutouts & pipe in crowd chants from our past.


    How much would season books cost for that type of fan presence & participation?

  25. MadMitch @2:24 pm





    Admittedly you never had it to begin with but you are clearly losing it now.


    Sweeping generalisations covering a number of different situations — all in the one post.”





    Thanks for the commendation MM!




    Coming from you, that assessment has made me feel a whole lot better about myself.



    Keep taking the statins!

  26. MM


    So KAs NT manager has told him to leave CP because we are crap and we play crap teams.


    Yet that same NT manager hasn’t seemed to pass on this important information to ME. Mmmmm

  27. imo and its long overdue that Lenny comes clean and admits to himself and the powers at be that the coaching from the current staff is not to the standard required for a club of our stature , we have probably the best individual group but we struggle to select the best first 11 team and formation, the longer rumour mongering regarding loosing the dressing room and players not wanting to play is allowed to fester and grow arms and legs is playing right into the hands of those that want us to fail.


    we as a club can not carry on with the current setup as it will end in disaster and I fear the worst.

  28. we need to clarify Ajer performance. He looked good from the back starting attacks and bursting forward. I’d like to see that more from a midfielder.



    Defensively he wasn’t as bad as Duffy BUT a) he cant jump and rarely intercepts cross balls b) last night he failed to close his man down and pressure a decision.



    There is no over reaction – the problem is we are being punished for those mistakes.



    Take the hero Goldson – that was a howler from him to let Moi in but he wasn’t punished. Last night Standard had plenty chances but missed. In fact, just before Roofe great goal they missed an absolute sitter brought on by multiple defensive mistakes.



    Its a fine line and we have not had a consistent back 3 or 4 to choose from all season – bad luck



    I’m eager to see Julien, Duffy, Ajer with cover from Biton and El Hamed. Laxalt looks magic and frimpong can do damage when relieved from his deep defensive duties.



    While I’m on a roll – the back line needs protection from the midfield. We don’t have enough dig in there and Brown can only be used sparingly. I’d like to see Soro or Turnbull (if he has that in his locker). Ntcham and Mcgregor are not ball winners.



    It was great watching celtic zip the ball around against Milan like that – after a defeat against them we should character and responded to the manager. The issues at the back can be resolved through player availability, good formation and a wee bit of luck.

  29. weebobbycollins on

    RC…as regards these rumours, the players will know if they are true or not; and if they are untrue then they will not affect the team. It’s the fans who get affected by rumours….

  30. RC – Do the talking on the park. The effort and performance last night ABSOLUTELY showed the players are behind the coaching staff.



    Aberdeen is a massive test then we get key players back for the crucial year end push.

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