Despite the win there were signs of July rustiness in Celtic against Sarajevo last night. Early passing was unproductive and play was less structured than we are used to. I got the feeling Lewis Morgan and James Forrest were told to take players on, instead of circulating the ball, which our wide players would have done previously, although it could be no more than Morgan playing his natural game, unfettered by team instructions.
This is a perfectly valid tactic but attacks we will inevitably break down more often.
Boli Bolingoli lost possession twice in the first seven minutes but then steadied. Seconds after I noted how solid a performance he subsequently put in, he again lost possession, leading to the Sarajevo goal.
Very little can be interpreted from this so early in his Celtic career, but the player knows a similar error later in the competition could be costly. That aside, he crossed well, made runs infield to create space on the wing and turned up in the No. 9 position when Odsonne Edouard dropped deep.
Oh how we missed Ryan Christie. The opening goal was Celtic’s best play all night. Edouard beat two players and got inside the box. The ball broke to Christie, in a position few of his team-mates would be able to conjure a goal from, but that’s exactly what Ryan did. It was a superb finish.
I made my mind up early last season that Callum McGregor was my PoTY, but the burden of carrying so much central midfield responsibility eventually told on him. His winner last night was a goal from nothing – space outside the box that looked safe until he unleashed a shot. This is what he can do – if he’s not run into the ground.
These games are all about getting the job done, hopefully without incurring the cost of injury or suspension, so Neil Lennon will be very satisfied. It is clear we have a long way to do. Christopher Jullien should help, so should the signing of a good right back.
Bring on the Nomme Kalju