Did you notice during last night’s game the most important goal-type we’ve scored all season? Nir Bitton headed the ball forward to John Guidetti, who could have knocked it on, but instead was shoved off the ball, resulting in the ball progressing anyway. This scenario created the most valuable commodity in football: space.
There is an enormous amount of misunderstanding when teams line-up with ‘only’ one striker. Especially when this striker plays as a false 9 dropping deeper than a conventional striker would. Intuitively this sounds lacking in attacking edge, but it you have three whippet-like midfielders in support you create space for them to dart into, just as Stefan Johansen did to such effect at Firhill.
Whenever I see criticisms of this strategy I think back to Ireland’s victory over Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands in a must-win World Cup qualifier in 2001. Netherland’s started with van Nisterlrooy and Kluivert as strikers, before adding Hasselbaink and our own van Hooijdonk (replacing a midfielder and defender respectively), but they failed to beat Shay Given.
The game was a textbook lesson in how to deny your own strikers that most valuable commodity, the Dutch went out of the World Cup that afternoon.
Ronny still has plenty of work to do, but you can see his plans mature by the week.
I’m enjoying the many comments on the English TV deal, and our paucity. Without getting too philosophical, money often determines your sense of self. Our comparative lack of money will temper our ambitions for Celtic. Three years ago, losing a player to Southampton would have seemed an affront. In future, this might look like an objective.
It’s not all doom and gloom. We have a place in the football world, and in the Champions League, but we should talk about it, as well as future TV deals. Pick up on it tomorrow or next week.
Thanks for everyone who got in touch yesterday about CQN11 St Patrick’s Dinner on Friday 13 March. We’ve almost got the line-up confirmed, and it’s a cracker. Email me for booking information, firstname.lastname@example.org