With Celtic a goal up midway through the second half yesterday, we tried something new. The back four became a back three, with three sitting in front of them. Adam Matthews pushed into right midfield leaving Izaguirre, Denayer and van Dijk across the back. To the left of Matthews was Scott Brown and Charlie Mulgrew. It was a useful game to experiment tactically as Inverness asked questions throughout.
The most striking feature of this three at the back with three sitters was that Matthews didn’t bomb forward when Celtic were in possession, as he usually does. He kept in line with Brown and Mulgrew. On occasion, they were 25 yards behind their nearest team-mate, which was a bit jarring to see, as it’s so rare.
This was almost certainly a dry-run for Astra on Thursday. Getting it right defensively in Romania is going to be key to the outcome. On their showing at Celtic Park, Astra are a decent passing team who enjoy being on the ball. They were less impressive in attack, as the Celtic defence and Craig Gordon did enjoy to stifle them, apart from one slip, and when we asked questions of their keeper and defence, they looked vulnerable.
I’m not sure Ronny Deila will be overly convinced that his experiments yesterday should be repeated on Thursday. Inverness carved us open several times late in the game, but at least we’ll hopefully not be trying something out there for the first time.
You can get copies of Caesar & the Assassin, Billy McNeill and Davie Hay’s accounts of managing Celtic from Jock Stein’s departure until the appointment of Liam Brady, signed by both Billy and Davie here. I’d a great chat with Billy today, he’s a man who knows how to enjoy his football.[calameo code=0003901718cdc4362fa2e? lang=en page=4 hidelinks=1 width=100% height=500]