Marking referees at corners, take more risks at the back


I really like the way we split our central defenders either side of Craig Gordon’s box at a goal kick. It induces teams to press us higher than they otherwise would, which opens up the game and allows us to build a quick break, but we’ve not got it right yet.

With his central defenders wide on the wings 6 yards from the goal-line, Craig will pass to them, but increasingly opponents push two attackers wide to cover this option. This forces Craig to seek one of our fullbacks, both of whom take up positions on the wing, near the halfway line.

This play is not a good use of the ball as possession is often lost. Worse, it’s lost while the opposition have men forward.

The space in front of the 18 yard box is crucially important. One of both of our central mids need to be there – close enough to collect a short pass and move it on. Look out for this happening. You’ll see a reticence in Craig to play short passes in a dangerous area, and in Scott (and whoever else) to want the ball in this position.

It’s dangerous, but when it works it’s transformational. Our old pal, Unai Emery, has built an impressive managerial career on getting this specific play right (it doesn’t lie behind any of PSG’s current woes).

Marking referees at corners

Another standard play against Celtic in recent months has been clearly visible when we defend corner kicks. Several Premiership teams are putting a player right in Craig Gordon’s midriff. Even before the kick is taken, the keeper is shoved and obstructed.

Craig always makes this situation highly visible. Theirs is shouting and shoving back. Arms flay, indignation peaks. But still, referees must be checking their Facebook status.

We are now unrecognisably better at defending corner kicks than we were a year ago, but if the keeper is fouled and the ball delivered into his zone, there is real danger. Two officials are employed to watch this area of play, how do we make one of them pay attention?

Craig answered this question last night by buying a yellow card for a necessary protest; a small price to pay in order to wake a dozing official from his slumber. Maybe if, as well as marking opponents at corners, we put a man on the referee, who could point and shout when the incident first arises?

Ridiculous, I know, but it might actually be effective.


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  1. traditionalist88 on

    traditionalist88 on 26th January 2017 12:21 pm



    Barney67 on 26th January 2017 12:09 pm



    Pulling out a 50/50 against Ross County on 24/04/2016 at the edge of their box confirms all we need to know about him.



    His influence on games is not what it should be for a guy in an important central position.



    Stuart Armstrong has shown what is possible. Bitton will be sold as soon as Eboue finds his feet.




  2. Boyata had 3 great headed attempts last night all on target. First one headed away by defender on the line Second saved by the keeper which led to the third and another bullet header for the goal. He also made a great last ditch tackle which stopped a shot on target.


    Re Paul leader..one of the holding midfielder drops into the centre to receive the ball if the two centre back ar covered..it’s his job to watch Craig’s signal if he is marked or to turn or move it wide.


    Sno rocket salad




  3. weebobbycollins on

    Already more than 600 hours have passed this year and Celtic have scored only 1(one) league goal at home…away from home they have yet to score…even Rangers, whose transfer budget is nowhere near that of their old firm rivals, have scored 100% more league goals this year…in fact, kenny miller alone has scored more goals than Celtic and he is nearly as old as clint hill who is almost as old as david weir who once had a dodo as a pet…

  4. At one point last night I thought Dallas was going to jump into the defensive wall at one of our free kicks. Nothing would surprise.



    Big Ded did well last night, hopefully he will keep it up as the bigger tests come and go. He looks fit, hungry and more comfortable in possession. I would like to see him get nasty. We shall see who starts at the weekend.

  5. traditionalist88 on 26th January 2017 12:21 pm



    Make no mistake, I am not, in any way Nir’s biggest fan. but every time I use CQN for live updates during a game i cant get to watch Fan-a-tic, who has appointed himself commentator for every game, is scathing in his criticism of the guy. Its not like just now and then if he deserves it. Its EVERY time Nir plays. He cant help himself its like hes got something personal against the guy. He needs to give it a rest.

  6. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Paul – I hope you realise you have just opened up a whole new debate on whether we should man-mark the ref or go zonal on him :-)


    Congratulations to Brendan and all the players on the record.


    Onwards and upwards!

  7. Anyway as far as BR’s team selection goes, Ive heard many asking why, Roberts for instance, isnt playing from the start, Ill take Brendans decisions over yours any day. HES the manager, thank god,

  8. Barney67



    I happen to value Fan a tic’s input and to be honest mostly agree with his opinion on Biiton. He played reasonably well last night and kept the ball moving ….tho mainly sideways. I would like someone in that position to be driving forward more with the ball and at speed, qualities which sadly the player does not seem to possess or feel confident to display.

  9. Afternoon champions…..great result for the club last night…..a braw Burns night ,rock on Tommy….



    Off to play with my new chainsaw…..broom broom



    Awfy braw



    Smiley noisy thing




  10. Joe Filippis Haircut on

    I watched Sparky last night and for me his body language was not great I think he is unhappy and is begining to distance himself from the first team squad,I hope I am wrong but this is a player who scored 40 goals last season and should be used more often by Brendan.If he does not get more first team game time I can see him looking to move on just my opinion mind.H.H.

  11. Intrigued to know if mischief making Ryan Christie


    signing for 2nd biggest team made anyone’s head explode on


    SSB last night.



    Heading to game so missed BUT



    Can Just imagine BILLY BOYNE phoning in



    “Hes(Christie) at it everyone knows we are 2nd biggest club


    Light BULB !!!!!!!!! Oh Hold on


    NAW we are the worlds most successful club”

  12. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    The split CBs are used by a few teams. Tottenham do it quite effectively (helped by Lloris being good with the ball). Wanyama drops back to cover the middle and provide another option for a pass.


    I guess the bottom line is that the more players the other side have pressing high up then the fewer they have further back to defend.


    Get players who are comfortable on the ball, show for it and can move it on quickly.

  13. While I’m on….



    It seems to me, that whenever we play an evening game during the dark months, that the pitch is not very well illuminated. In comparison, I’ve watched highlights from a number of games on the continent and the pitch seems far more illuminated and even the crowd too. Does anyone know if this is a deliberate ploy by Celtic or is it just down to infrastructure.



    Hope someone could shed some light, excuse the pun…



    HH EnnisBhoy

  14. Mike in Toronto



    Topping resigning?



    Broadfoot offski?



    What is 2017 going to reveal that might be part of their motivation?



    It might surprise folk to learn that Topping was not happy with the punishment LNS handed out to RFC for ten years of misregistration.



    He wasn’t the only one on the SPL Board who were “surprised” at the LNS Decision and not being around when the Supreme Court rule on ebts might be seen as a good idea by those who were around in 2013 when LNS gave his ruling.

  15. BARNEY67 on 26TH JANUARY 2017 12:47 PM


    Anyway as far as BR’s team selection goes, Ive heard many asking why, Roberts for instance, isnt playing from the start, Ill take Brendans decisions over yours any day. HES the manager, thank god,



    My sentiments exactly.


    On the Biton thing.Someone just posted he was OK,last night.Thats as much,through gritted teeth they will say.He was terrific last night.Kept Broony and Armstrong supplied with the ball the whole game.Its their job to go charging forward,not his.To have 70% or more of the ball,you need players to do this.


    But what does Brendan know?.Some right warmers on here.Get their whipping boys,and cant see past it.

  16. EnnisBhoy on 26th January 2017 1:23 pm



    We do it to guide German bombers doncha know :-)



    Even though we didnt have any then.

  17. To be fair, Celtic used to get Hooper to do the same thing. Stand in the keepers way and be a nuisance.

  18. TURKEYBHOY on 26TH JANUARY 2017 1:36 PM



    Honestly, I was a big fan of Biton’s before. His form has hit a nosedive very much like his old chum Johansen’s.



    Last night was a step in the right direction for him.

  19. Ive watched those highlights over again and we got away with one with that Pen incident Broonie deffo pushed they guy and Dallas was looking straight at them at the time, very surprised he didnt blow, bottled it if you ask me.

  20. Bhoyjoebelfast on

    Re Rabbis Burn


    Anyone remember the cigarette packet with Rabbis bust?


    And the slump goes on da da da da da da


    Much like chers song and the beat goes on..,……..,………………….

  21. I thought Dallas had a competant 1st half, but was dreadful in the 2nd half.



    Should it have been a penalty for Brown on their forward, too far away for me to know.



    What Junior did miss was the blatant jersey wrestling in the saint johnstone box 2nd half everytime we were up the park. And twice pull backs on Keiran and Armstrong.



    Its cheating, apply the rules.



    On Griff,


    a lot seem to be desperate to hang a “doesnt seem happy ” banner on him due to “body language”.



    He seemed fine at all his warm ups, was interacting with the other subs, wee laughs , kid ons, seemed ok.


    Same with the groundstaff at halftime, who set him up on the corner of the box to get soaked by the sprinklers, all taken ok.



    I feel its just a season of niggly injuries and not getting that run of being fully fit and available.


    Mostly when he plays he scores.


    Mostly when Dembele plays he scores.



    Whits the problem ?



    lastly, I think on Tuesday night a number of celtic players will have a bid in. The english bottom half of the table will be eyeing some of our assetts for sure.



    Anyways, I enjoyed last night, Saint Johnstone are no easy-beats, we worked hard to do it (including bitton).



    A wins a win for awe that