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.

Click Here for Comments >

About Author

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. 8
  10. ...
  11. 14

  1. CORNELIUS on 23RD OCTOBER 2020 2:05 AM



    – Just like when we won 9 in a row under Jock – we lost 10 not because they were streets ahead but because we let our standards slip – we have let a great opportunity to become a force in European football slip away. The comparisons are spooky between the two eras.



    *Yesterday pre game while out with the dug the thought of this being 1975 again went through my mind, not season 74/75 but the year 75 itself.



    On ne’erday after beating the bully wee 5-1 at home we were sitting top of the league, even after losing the first game tae them and dropping points at Tannadice and swinecastle, and holders of 2 cups, Dryborough and LC.



    We had also added Ronnie Glavin for a club record, manure and deidco had been sniffing around however when the latter found out what school he went tae they lost interest and signed a literal nobody fae the buddies called mckean rip.



    Now IMHO TIAR would have been nice if only it led us intae double figures but it wisnae foremost in our minds, just continuing tae win was though.



    However, 2 events occurred early on apart fae losing at home tae them, first big George Connolly packed it in and we were knocked out of Europe in the 1st round when just 6 months prior we had been literally kicked out by a bunch of argie thugs in the semis.



    No matter, we marched on still confident although I was at Parkheid 4 days before Christmas when we beat St Johnstone 3-1 while deidco were losing 3-4 at Broomfield.



    A couple of notable memories I have of that day was there was quite a small crowd, now this could be put down tae Christmas shopping, and there wisnae the fervour usually associated with hun losses, it seems complacency was kicking in.



    That dreadful dreich day 4 days intae the year when we lost over at hades 0-3, which I have often spoke about, was a shocker as we thought they wurnae that good, hmmmm as Jimmy Ruffin once sung “I’ve Passed This Way Before”.



    Walking out of there that night, the last time ever for me, tae the sound of them singing “Celtic Ha Ha Ha” was soul destroying and I have no idea how we got tae the other side of the Clyde only that we caught the train home at Garscadden Station.



    That wisnae the catalyst for our season, that occurred 7 days later when we lost at home tae Motherwell we were shell shocked and so was our goalie whose bottle had truly went.



    We only won 4 more games while deidco’s only loss was on the last game when they had already been crowned champions, they did drop points on the run in and were knocked out of the Scottish by the sheep, aye they wurnae that good, just better than us and that’s all they had to be, finishing 11 points and 13 goals ahead of us in 3rd place.



    At the end of the season Billy retired after winning another Scottish Cup, brogie and the wee mhan were freed and the Big Mhan almost lost his life in a MVA.



    We did sign big Shuggie and the Iron Mhan was put in charge, a great Celt who played for the jersey, in fact his signing for us cost him money as he was playing for Lurgan based Glenavon and working as a confectioner at the time.



    Sean was with the club 26 years, an integral part of any success we had, he was forced tae retire in 1958 as we descended intae the years in the wilderness but stayed on in a backroom role.



    He literally played for the shirt and was known for dishing out retribution to any opponent who bullied one of our players, he famously, as members of my family related tae me, ran across the pitch and dumped the deidco thug on the sidelines who had savagely inured a young and slight John Higgins.



    After witnessing Davie Cattenach emulating that against deidco reserves when the Big Mhan at the half had told him tae calm down Sean allegedly commented “great tackle Catt”.



    And yet after a season where he had led us tae another losing LC Final, the quarter finals of the ECWC where we lost on away goals, with a flu ridden squad tae FSV Zwickau, finishing 2nd tae a really poor deidco side who actually lost 5 games and tied 8 that season, it was a first round loss tae Motherwell, after being 2 up at the half, in the SC that ended Sean’s over a quarter a century tenure with the club.



    Fitba is a cruel game and legends do fade away, see Jimmy McStay, Jimmy McGrory, Jock Stein, big Billy etc, none come as big as the Iron Mhan, club captain, coach, assistant manager, acting manager who played 254 games for us scoring the winning goal in the SC Final tae give us our first double in 40 years.



    If Neil disnae smarten up, legend or no, he’ll be getting his harry potters.

  2. Good evening friends. Just to confirm that, for last night’s game your votes really will make a difference. The votes awarded to the top 7 players at the moment are 38, 37, 12, 8, 7, 6, 6. So with just over 2 hours still to vote all places (apart from possibly 3rd) are still very much up for grabs. A short email to CQNPOTY@GMAIL.COM with the names of 3 players and you could be kingmaker ;-)

  3. Watching Forest v Derby.The last time Forest were on,Mc Kenna was terrific.Watching him closely again tonight.As compared to Big Duffy.

  4. 67ECW, I never believed Paul’s generation of dominance mantra,


    In fairness to Board despite grim forebodings here we didn’t sell anyone, we bought Barkas, Turnbull & Ajeti and brought in Duffy, Laxalt & Elyounoussi on loan.


    On paper we did enough to secure the ten, but so far it’s just not working out.


    Injuries, Covid & a bloody International Break has cost us dear.


    Barkas, Duffy & to a lesser extent Elyounoussi have so far not delivered,


    Turnbull got 1 start & was hooked after 45 minutes.


    So of the 6 only Laxalt & Ajeti have so far added anything to squad.


    Cal Mac is going through his poorest spell in years, Griff likewise, Brooneyis struggling a bit, Taylor too.


    However the biggest disappointment has been Eddie.


    He was our Talisman last year, so far this year he has looked a shadow of his former self.


    He is obviously out at the moment as are Elhamed, Bitton, Julian, & Forrest.


    Is it pure bad luck that so many things are going wrong so quickly or is a lot of it down to our Management team.


    To compound things the Huns by either luck or good Management have put a strong well organized team together. They are playing with a sense of spirit & togetherness and whether we care to admit it or not they have spooked us,


    We are where we are, it is worrying but it is a time to stay calm, so far we have dropped 5 points they have dropped 4 so there is no need to panic,


    We go again on Sunday,

  5. DENIABHOY on 23RD OCTOBER 2020 2:56 PM


    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





    I’ve paid lots of good money to witness all three scenarios – through my fingers as my hands covered my face!!!!



    HH jg

  6. I agree that 3-5-2 looks dead in the water but let’s not forget, we were poor against Sevco and saw the title-race pendulum swing their way while we were playing some turgid stuff and being worked out with 4-2-3-1.



    So what do we do now? Go back to the formation that saw us struggle for much of last season, keep the formation which Lennon has clearly recruited for, or does he have another formation up his sleeve?



    And if everyone’s fit, has Ajeti come to sit on the bench while Eddie plays as a lone-striker again?

  7. After we scored against ACMilan 2/1 I had that good feeling back,was pretty sure we would equalise to make 2/2 but all my good feelings were dashed when Big Duffy slow as a cart horse couldn’t defend properly which led A C Milan to score to make it 3/1,Unfortunately Big Bitton is still under the weather ,but if he was fit I would have played him at Centre Half to replace Duffy and I would drop Barakas and put Bain back in Goal.

  8. TimBhoy your good feelings that we would get a 2 all draw were surely dashed as there were 30 seconds left & Milan had the ball deep in Celtic Territory.


    We were beaten 2-1 anyway the debacle for last goal, didn’t effect the result, only the goal difference.

  9. Bain would not have saved any of the last 5 goals we have conceded.No matter how anyone tries to spin it.


    Neither would Forster.A lot of selective memory among some fans.Last season,the Huns scored 2 goals at Celtic Park,big Forster never moved for either.Its all about scapegoats and agendas.As if that helps us.




    Sorry, wee bgfc, sparkleghirl, mods and all tims



    fugg the bassas, dons is the fightback

  11. prestonpans bhoys on

    Feel sorry for big Duff, seems he can’t play in that defensive format, doesn’t make him a poor player. Lenny needs to play players in correct positions and formations which suits their skill set, simples.




    I think you could say that about the last 40 years.Incredible the times I have watched us shoot ourselves in the foot in Europe.Far too many times at Celtic Park.




    Maybe he would if he had the bodies.I agree though.Duffy looks like he would be better in a back 4.

  14. P8DDY on 23RD OCTOBER 2020 7:32 PM






    Shay Given was only a boy then, and LM needed a GK, there and then.


    Wayne Higgins was all that could be scraped off of the money that the board had just received for our top striker, Gerry Creaney, who was sold to Portsmouth for £600,000?


    There was a cronyism grip inside the club at that time as well, in the board room, and in the dressing room, with, Bonner, McStay, Grant, Nicholas, etc, they hadn’t won a trophy for six year’s, and yet the first thing on their agenda at their first meeting with, LM, was to ask for wage rises!


    Paul Cooney of Scotsport, was interviewing, LM, and asked LM “Why is there so much unrest in the dressing room, since you took the job!”


    LM replied “Paul, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. At this troublesome time for the club, I’ve got a lot of player’s in here, and they are focussed on wage rises! Player’s who haven’t won a trophy for these Celtic fan’s in six year’s….and they want more money!”


    LM, if given the tools, would’ve played Sir Walter at his own game, and when required, park the bus and play over the top. Sir Walter didn’t like the way that, LM deployed his Celtic team’s at Ibrox, on one occasion, no Celtic fan’s were at Ibrox in a 1-1 draw, where Sir Walter’s team needed a deflected, scrappy, late equalizer, and in the other game, LM abandoned this, Celtic Way, mindset trap, and tightened things up, and sat deeper, playing on the break,and we won 1-2, LM took no credit and gave the credit of victory, to assistant manager, Frank Connor. That, was a Celtic touch by LM.


    LM new that Celtic’s team had no battlers, and was going to the WC94 to bring in some tough tackling, Nigerian player’s for midfield, removing Peter Grant, moving Paul McStay back to sweeper, just like, B.Dortmund did with their legendary midfielder, Andreas Moller, and make John Collins(by far our best player at that time) the new Celtic captain. LM was also in talks with English football league striker, Paul Furlough, to use as an option for playing the ball over the top, and getting real about our, six year’s of failed footballing philosophy, which clearly wasn’t working.


    Wayne Biggins signing was deliberately ‘used’ by LM, as at that time, to influence, positive action from the various Celtic fan’s group’s, who were, frustratingly, dilly dallying, over taking a decision to, unite as a supporter base to, overthrow the Kelly’s and White’s dynasty, who were not the answer to the deceitfully contrived ‘Taylor Report’ and it’s, woefully, wild reaction to the Hillsborough disaster that was caused by, bad policing, and stewarding on that fateful day when, 96 innocent souls were taken, not by football terraces, but by overcrowding. LM was trying to ‘force’ fan’s to act, ie bhoycott, before it got any later, but the dillying and, dallying continued, until ‘Celts For Change’ finally showed all the Celtic View reader’s, what can be achieved when the, cliques and cronies are swatted aside. hh

  15. glendalystonsils on

    I am undecided about Barkas and , given the millions we have misspent on players , I am not setting any store by the fact we splashed out £4+ million on him. What I do know however is that , if there is a keeper in there, Steve Woods will bring it out in him .I would also be surprised if Steve Woods opinion was not sought in recruiting Barkas.



    I would give him time and a settled defence in front of him before condemning him.






    Do you think they asked Stevie Woods if Fraser Forster would have been worth signing?



    When I see the amount of money that’s wasted at Celtic, the first thought that comes into my mind is, that we’d be better buying local player’s, and turn them into good pro’s. If it was good enough for Mr Stein, why shouldn’t it be good now? Is it an admission that we can’t develop local players? Ryan Christie is the exception I think. The bhoy Taylor played in a ridged system before he came here, now he’s wildly exposed, and made to look like a failure. How good, or bad, would Duffy look, if we played a ridged system? If we bought local it would boost the quality of team’s in our league, and probably sharpen us up. Will we be able to buy non British player’s after a Tory no deal brexit? Tricky time’s ahead. hh

  18. ERNIE LYNCH on 23RD OCTOBER 2020 9:12 PM



    It’s quite possible but it’s rather moot as FF didn’t want to come.



    For me, the jury is still out on Barkas but it’d be hard to replace a £10m goalkeeper with a £4.5m goalkeeper and expect like-for-like.

  19. lets all do the huddle on

    after the first few games of the season when we werent great then got papped out the the champs league, i thought i knew the answers to our problems in terms of wrong team selections and formations and sticking too much with the same players



    now a good bit further into the season we have seen all sorts of formations and team selections and none of it has worked



    so i hold my hands up and say i was wrong



    i didnt know the solutions after all, which is bad because im one of the country’s top tacticians



    i think we are just a poor team on the pitch at the moment, with poor management performance off the pitch



    we are in a major rutt and there doesnt seem to be an obvious way out



    i think our players have definitely struggled playing in empty stadiums, but thats only part of it



    neither the players nor management look motivated during a game



    im all for having turnbull rogic and ntcham in the starting 11 on sunday. why not, nothing else has worked



    dont know where to start with the defence – 3 or 4? no idea.



    up front? no idea either



    as for barkas – i havent really seen him too much at fault for any goals, but it just looks like the ball goes past him too easily whereas the likes of boruc and forster would have kept some of them out with some part of their body



    and as for one on one’s with a forward he just doesnt look like he can make himself as big and unpassable as those two



    anyway, if theres a moderator on then delete this message for its doom and gloom-ness



    i will be fine by kick off on sunday



    or when ive finished this case of beer




  20. glendalystonsils on




    FF was a known quantity , so that question doesn’t really apply . If FF had wanted to be here for 10 it would have been on a further loan . He chose otherwise .

  21. *CQN PLAYER OF THE YEAR 2020-21*





    We approached last night’s game with a fair degree of trepidation. But the early exchanges were positive and we certainly looked more energetic and adventurous than our previous game. And then they score a relatively simple headed goal. Again, we worked our way back into the tie and were finishing the half reasonably well until, boom, a breakaway and another avoidable goal. Unlike Saturday we make changes at half time and for most of the 2nd half it was a really good encounter that was rewarded by a well taken header from a better than usual corner. With 5 minutes to go I really did think it was going to be a very memorable comeback and we certainly created another couple of half chances. Then the usual last minute sucker punch gave us a scoreline that was probably a little unfair on us.


    But, unlike Saturday, the general consensus since last night seems to be that we are now in a better frame of mind for our weekend trip to Pittodrie.


    So, as always, a big thank you to the 50 who voted. The votes cast for each player are as follows (with my own choices asterisked) –



    Barkas: 0


    Welsh: 0


    Duffy: 0


    Ajer*: 46


    Frimpong*: 5


    Ntcham: 9


    Brown: 0


    McGregor: 7


    Laxalt: 48


    Ajeti: 8


    Griffiths: 0


    Christie*: 9


    Elyounoussi: 3


    Rogic: 15


    Klimala: 0


    Taylor: 0



    So, the players receiving points for the AC Milan game are –



    Laxalt – 5 points


    Ajer – 4 points


    Rogic – 3 points


    Christie – 2 points


    Ntcham – 2 points



    Note – Diego Laxalt has played 2 competitive games for Celtic and has been the CQN Man Of The Match on both occasions. Quite a start!



    And the overall table is now –


    1st – Christie – 27 points


    2nd – Frimpong and McGregor – 26 points


    4th – Ajer and Ntcham – 16 points


    6th – Duffy – 14 points


    7th – Elyounoussi – 13 points


    8th – Brown – 11 points


    9th – Bitton, Laxalt and Taylor – 10 points


    12th – Barkas – 9 points


    13th – Ajeti – 8 points


    14th – Edouard – 6 points


    15th – Forrest and Griffiths – 5 points


    17th – Elhamed, Klimala and Welsh – 4 points


    20th – Rogic – 3 points


    21st – Jullien – 2 points


    22nd – Turnbull – 1 point


    23rd – Bain, Bolingoli, Dembele and Soro – 0 points



    It’s now back to league business and a chance to cut the lead at the top back to 1 point when we travel north to face Aberdeen in Sunday’s High Noon kick off. Hail Hail!

  22. !!BADA BING!! on 23RD OCTOBER 2020 10:02 PM



    Craig Gordon wasn’t good enough. Time will tell if Barkas is but that doesn’t make Gordon a better goalkeeper.

  23. Jobo,



    As always a mega thank you.



    The votes cast are very interesting and the table is even more interesting.



    So Jeremy Fingpong is in second place. This contrasts vividly with the posts earlier today stating that he doesn’t even deserve a starting place.



    I totally agree with your poll , Jeremy Fingpong’ s natural game brings a dimension, purpose and entertainment that others cannot match. ( Even though I didn’t vote for him last night )



    HH to all.

  24. My point was £10 million or nothing, price doesn’t determine a player’s ability, we need to give guys time to settle in, as I posted earlier, Scott Brown wasn’t very good for a long time in a Celtic jersey….

  25. lets all do the huddle on

    i remember when man utd signed de gea for 20 million or whatever, he looked well dodgy for a while, kind of similar to my thoughts on barkas at the moment in that he just didnt fill the goal up though de gea made some obvious mistakes at the start whereas barkas hasnt



    de gea turned into one of the best keepers in the world so lets not dive into whether barkas is worth the 5 million or not, or more importantly worthy of being our keeper, i think he will turn out fine

  26. GREENPINATA on 23RD OCTOBER 2020 10:14 PM



    Frimpong is raw and young but I honestly believe that if he can sort out his final ball, he’ll be a top, top player.



    I think it says more about us right now that a teenage “project” is being expected to be our star man every week and is being crucified when his high standards dip.



    He’s basically being punished for being further along in his development than expected.

  27. lets all do the huddle on

    if frimpong wants to sort out his final ball he should watch the new dvd that is on sale in the celtic shop



    its called “James Forrests’ 100 best final balls”



    its basically just forrest getting to the bye line and hitting the defender who is on the edge of the 6 yard box, 100 times

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. 8
  10. ...
  11. 14