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.