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. onenightinlisbon on

    ERNIE LYNCH on 24TH OCTOBER 2020 1:49 PM



    Assume you were having a laugh?



    Desmond runs the show.

  2. WHAT IS THE STARS on 24TH OCTOBER 2020 3:03 PM



    Another Martyr for aul Ireland. Terence MacSwiney strikes back. Its not those who can inflict the most….


    *there’s a line in there “When you see my little daughter, won’t you make her understand”



    I had an acquaintance RIP, brought up in Skibereen, whose auntie’s best friend was that little daughter.

  3. weebobbycollins on

    Barca’s goalie, after making three great stops then goes and does a Rab Douglas impersonation, and it’s 3-1 to Real…

  4. AN TEARMANN on 24TH OCTOBER 2020 3:37 PM


    I don’t know you, An. But your recent response to me was unusually intemperate and, I would say, atypical.


    Covid is not good for health and wellbeing. Frankly, your strange sexual references suggest something is not right.


    What is the matter? Is Jason a friend? Are you an anti-Christmas campaigner?

  5. TT,



    I love when Jim McCann says in the preamble to singing Grace “and that is how close we are to that bit of history”,



    that was one of those moments, remarkable.

  6. Ajax 12 nil up away from home, game still playing



    There you go Celtic, that’s what we expect tomorrow :O)

  7. THE_HUDDLE on 24TH OCTOBER 2020 5:05 PM


    Ajax 12 nil up away from home, game still playing



    There you go Celtic, that’s what we expect tomorrow :O)






    ajax quick news is debating the formation and calling for the managers head

  8. Just read about Ryan Christie, who said he was 3.8 metres apart from Armstrong in the Scotland hotel but was banned, this distance was confirmed by measurement, why was he banned, 2 metres is the rule or do the rules not matter, this needs pursued to get an answer and I hope the initial decision has been checked and verified as being the right action, Dr leitch said rules are the same for all is it 2 metres or not and if so why the ban?

  9. Ajax have had 38 shots and 20 on target



    That was before the 13th goal went in.



    Have we had 20 shots on target this season yet ;O)

  10. Big Jimmy loved yer Hang on Sloopy video, in 1965 as Jackson Browne would sing “In sixty-five I was seventeen and running up one-oh-one” although it wisnae 101 I was running up but the Renton Road.



    I don’t recall ever seeing it and there were plenty of music shows back then, Top of the Pops, Thank Your Lucky Stars, Ready Steady Go, even “Live from Glasgow it’s Stramash”, etc, but nae videos as we knew them.



    The McCoys were basically a one hit wonder in the UK but followed that up with the oul Peggy Lee classic Fever, which didnae resonate with the UK teens.



    A wee look on wiki indicated that Rick Derringer aka Rick Zehringer actually married the lemon curd in the video.



    Also one of the songwriters Bert Berns song writing credits include “Twist and Shout”, “Piece of My Heart”, “Here Comes the Night”, and “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love”, and he produced “Baby, Please Don’t Go”, “Under the Boardwalk” and “Brown Eyed Girl”.



    BTW the latter was originally called “Brown Skinned Girl” but was deemed too controversial at the time.

  11. Ryan Christie has been told to self isolate, stay home for 14 days with all the restrictions on seeing people, this cannot be right if he as he says and its backed up by measurements that he was over 2 metres from a positive case, if I were him I would be taking legal advice as his liberty has been restricted on the basis of a deciiosn which we dont know if it was reviewed by a line manager by Lothian track and Trace.


    Incidentally Track and Trace people do not need to be clinical staff but are recruited from all sorts of civilian jobs.

  12. What possesses a Celtic fan to call a radio show featuring 2 ex Rangers players and a Celtic hating journalist to try and convince them Celtic are no good.

  13. SAINT STIVS on 24TH OCTOBER 2020 12:00 PM



    Thanks for posting this on the sheep game, I was at it, one of the few I attended back then as I was back home again living, had a new wean tae join the one we already had and also bought a new house which entailed furnishing it so games were a premium.



    That was a huge disappointment but the sheep were an excellent side at the time, however, we would clinch the League up there 4 months later with a 1-1 draw.



    This was a winner take all game although a draw would be good enough for us. I recall working that morning and hurrying home tae listen tae the last half hour on the wireless. David Coleman on Grandstand announced at the back of 3 we had taken an early lead so our tails were up but had we scored too early.



    By half time it was 1-1, I just couldnae listen tae the second half. At about 20 tae 5 I was lying in front of the tele watching the teleprinter posting the scores, then it came SL1, Aberdeen 1 and that’s all I needed, leapt intae the air and done a jig.



    That night I went up tae buy an evening paper and popped intae the local Tim pub, met an oul school pal, GRHS, and told him about no being able tae listen tae it.



    He responded with knowing the half time score he drove up tae the cemetery so as no tae hear any hun cheering and kept the radio off. He turned it on at 5:00 tae get the final scores and did the same as me when he heard Aberdeen 1, he was surprised he didnae wake the deid lol.



    You don’t have tae be daft tae be a Tim, but it helps which is why 50 year later I’m on here concerned about the morra.

  14. !!BADA BING!! on 24TH OCTOBER 2020 5:39 PM


    Oh good,there’s Lawrie fae Dennistoun oan noo….







    the normally erudite man with the extensive vocabulary let himseld down tonight by using the word “aff”

  15. Sevco must be the only team in World football, that haven’t had a Covid 19 case….aye right

  16. glendalystonsils on




    from all sorts of civilian jobs



    … and from all sorts of footballing persuasions perhaps?

  17. TURKEYBHOY on 24TH OCTOBER 2020 2:51 PM


    Just finished the awesome 2 part series,The Comey Rule.All about the corrupt,evil Trump.Brendan Gleeson gives a sensational Trump.Great cast,great insight,into Trump.Unmissable.



    xxxxx xxxxx



    I enjoyed it, gobsmacked. They knew he was unfit for office from day one. all struggle is a class struggle. wonder what they will do when all the truth comes out? I expect honey pot mrs trump will do a runner back to moscow. lol


    but she wont be the first working girl to pee on him. :o)



    return to normal programming now



    its a dark and windy Sunday mornin 0;54 am in sunny Pioth, weather was gorgeous yesterday. its beginning to smell a lot like summer. HH good mornin everone, im off tae ma kip.






    PS Lenny has to stay




  18. ST TAMS on 24TH OCTOBER 2020 3:07 PM







    I know what you are going through.





    I lost one of my Labradoodles 6 weeks ago. Miss him so much.





    Hope Rocky is ok




    Cheers mate. I am sorry to read of your recent loss of your Dog.


    Its heart breaking.


    Rocky doesnt seem to be in pain…but he got a bad report from the last Vet, especially cos of his age ( 14). He is to be examined by another Vet this Monday afternoon.



  19. TONTINE TIM on 24TH OCTOBER 2020 5:27 PM




    Cheers mate.


    I Googled the Girl dancer in the Sloopy video and raed a part of ” Bio Liz Brewer”.


    There are a couple of short Interviews with Liz, but I am not sure when those happened…Maybe when she was around “60” or so…Im only guessing…but she still looked stunning.


    She went on to become an “Event Promoter”, and organised parties for the rich and famous…Shirley Bassey for example.


    As I said, I didnt read or view too long so I dont know if she married Rik the Vocalist. IF she did…hes a lucky Guy !


    I will catch up with her story at a later date, as Ive got a lot on my mind just now, with Wee rocky being unwell etc.


    HH Mate.

  20. It’s frightening to think how much money in transfer fees and wages,are on that pitch at Old Trafford, absolute dross

  21. I wish I had read about “McSwiney” BEFORE the Horse ran LOL !


    Apparently he was the Mayor of Cork and went on Hunger strike 100 years ago.


    The ITV 4 Channel that covered the racing Today, only mentioned part of Mayor McSwiney story AFTER the Horse won.