Aberdeen are back at Celtic Park tomorrow, 10 days after their previous visit, having arrested their record breaking run of six league games without a goal by beating Kilmarnock 1-0 last time out. Derek McInnes will be relieved to take part in someone else’s soap opera.
Prior to losing to Ross County, Celtic were on one of their best runs of the season: five wins in February since going down at home to the mighty St Mirren. The performance and result in Dingwall surprised no one, though, even after five wins, there is a fragility about this team.
When the man running the US has a codename ‘Celtic’, there is a bit of symmetry that we appoint ‘The President’ as interim manager. Having worked as a coach at Celtic for a decade, John Kennedy will relish getting his hands on the levers tomorrow, but he is no miracle worker. Knocking this team into shape will take more than a few tactical or selection changes.
There are some indicators I am looking for. Will he retain Scott Bain ahead of Vasilis Barkas? Almost certainly. Will Scott Brown retain his place ahead of Ismaila Soro? Not so sure about this one. Scott is a voice of authority among the players and will be a key ally to John. You and I are always looking to the horizon, so we would probably opt for Ismaila, but corralling a couple of dozen egos is a tactical job in itself. What we notice on the pitch is not everything.
If we do not have unanimous agreement on the unsuitability of Tom Rogic for the energetic, up and down the park, right side of midfield role, I would be amazed. We have too many No. 10s and not enough wide right options. A less-effective Ryan Christie is always preferable to Tom on the right.
Albian Ajeti, Leigh Griffiths and Patryk Klimala will all hope to make more of an impact under the new regime. None has had the kind of run in the team required to reach peak performance. All three will hope that changes between now and May. John should pick Albian or Patryk and stick with him, we need to find out what resources we have in these two before we go shopping again. No harm to Leigh, but we know all about him – and he’s a keeper (not that kind of keeper) for a while yet.
I doubt we will see a change from the midfield diamond, which apart from a haunting January provided a significant improvement in performances and results on formations from earlier this season.
Good luck, John.