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We won the cup, so what now?

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Neil Lennon will have learned enough on Sunday to give him pause for thought.  After wins over Lille and Kilmarnock, we shipped three goals, conceded additional good chances and confidence shattered all too easily the moment Hearts scored their first.

For me, the remainder of our season truncates into the next four games; four more cup finals, if you like.  The plan for these fixtures has to be right.

There is no longer a debate about our best defensive formation; moving Kristofer Ajer to right back gives the team a far better shape.  This means playing Christopher Jullien and Shane Duffy in central defence.  As you may have commented through expletives on Sunday, these two are not a partnership.  Not yet, anyway; they have three games to change that.

I vacillate on left back preferences.  Greg Taylor is currently the manager’s first choice, if so, play him in each of the four games ahead.  If Diego Laxalt gets the nod, give him the opportunity to settle into the position.

If the partnership between Jullien and Duffy needs work, the system the defence builds with their goalkeeper requires even more attention.  Neil Lennon opted for Conor Hazard against Hearts, whom he accepted had a degree of liability for two of the Hearts goals.  A more experienced keeper would have got his retaliation in first on Naismith and, as every experienced keeper in the business does, would have ‘bought the foul’ for the third goal.

It is time to put Vasilis Barkas in goal behind a settled defence.  He is 26-years-old, a Greek international goalkeeper with four seasons’ experience at a decent level, including Champions League football.  There is more to come from him than we have seen this season; playing behind a composed defence will establish this.

You, me and the manager saw two games with Ismaila Soro before the Cup Final, enough to demonstrate he is a player, not enough to convince you, me AND the manager he was right for the final.  As fans, we are guilty of recency bias: Soro played well recenly, Celtic played well, therefore Soro is the answer to our problems.

This can be true but it can also be false.  I fell into this trap earlier this season with Jeremie Frimpong.  He was our MVP in wins over Ross County, Livingston and Hibs, but opposing teams adapted, and he’s young, which means form can be variable.  St Johnstone had his number in Perth next time out and his gas has been at a peep ever since.

What we have seen of Soro is encouraging, especially the second 45 minutes against Lille, but we have not seen enough to bet the bank on him.

At 35, Scott Brown is a shadow of his former imperious best, which has consequences for Callum McGregor and how we defend, which is the reason there is a clamour to play Soro.  e HeIt is accepted that Scott cannot play two games a week for long periods.  Consult your textbook, and it will tell you players like this need to be used sparingly, which means Soro is likely to start tomorrow night and against Dundee United on 30 December.

Alternating Soro and Brown directly conflicts with my desire to see a settled team and partnerships establish throughout the side, but desire is a guideline and guidelines can be flexed in certain circumstances.

Playing Soro or Brown at Ibrox feels like a major call.  Thankfully, it is not my decision, because I can see jeopardy in both options.  If you think the answer is obvious, I suggest you have not considered the matter closely enough.  However, this is the kind of decision Neil Lennon is paid the big bucks to make and get right.

Successful teams have a settled defence, central mid and goalkeeper.  They vary their attacking players, often during games, so while it is important to get the four more attacking positions right, we do not need consistency of selection in those areas.  Neil can throw the dice there against Ross County, Hamilton and Dundee United.  We need to see more from on Odsonne Edouard, Mohamed Elyounoussi  and Ryan Christie, none are currently playing well enough to know their shirts will be on a hanger on 2 January.

We dodged a trauma on Sunday but the game was full of information about the team and how to proceed.  In this respect, Hearts did us a favour in not capitulating.  How we use this knowledge will determine the outcome of the title.

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  1. Sry to be a downer, but poor Duffy is possibly the worst defender ever to play for celtic. He is so low in form atm that he should not be near the team. Christie is a legend in his own mind, he’s had too many assists for the opposition. Elyanhoussi plays well 1 game in six, other 5 he gets subbed cos he’s wasting a Jersey. We could play all 3 of our keepers and they still couldn’t stop a shot on target. Too many problems on the pitch but actually worse off it. There is no defending, it’s all crazy mad panic. Kennedy a dud. Sadly lennie too, playing with 1 striker. Oh yes, Edouard is so bad, lazy, dispirited and dispiriting. Surely John Hughes would not tolerate such dreadful sloppiness from the team as we’ve witnessed this season. Let’s see what happens tmw.

  2. Just win tomorrow night Celtic. Expectations of good football, plenty of goals and great game management are gone. We’re a mediocre and fragile team and with poor recruitment, coupled with blind loyalty, we have few options to mix it up right and a coaching team incapable of doing so during a game.

     

     

    Just win. Take us closer to the January review.

     

     

    HH

  3. As Ceasar said, watching Celtic is like a fairytale, let’s strap ourselves in for the ride bhoys and girls HH and keep the faith ☘️

  4. The biggest factor in getting a league challenge going,apart from putting Barkas back in,is putting Griffiths up front with Eddy, made a huge difference last season, we need something different IMO

  5. Team for wednesday….

     

     

    …………………Hazard

     

     

    Ajer……….Julienne….Duffy…..Laxalt

     

     

    ……………………..Soro

     

     

    ………Frimpong…………McGregor

     

     

    ………………………Turnbull

     

     

    …………Griffiths………….. Eduoard

     

     

    HH ☘️

  6. I’d stick with Hazard, I think it would make little sense to drop him given his penalty heroics, he may kick on now. Barkas and Bain were given sustained runs and couldn’t hold the jersey.

     

     

    As for Hazard buying the foul for the third goal, can I remind P67 that Beaton was the referee on the day…

     

     

    Ajer at RB is nailed on now for the next few weeks, as is Duffy, Jullien and Taylor (for me). Taylor keeps his position better.

     

     

    Soro every day over Brown. When Brown tired on Sunday they run through us and broke on Duffy and Jullien in waves. Several times they had runners coming through and couldn’t take advantage. Soro offered far better protection as we seen against a quality Lille side.

     

     

    Playing Brown exposes our CB pairing when he tires and our manager is far too slow to change things when this happens.

     

     

    Brown’s lack of legs may explain why we’re vulnerable to counter attacks but it doesn’t explain our set piece flaws.

     

     

    We seem to have no idea how to defend set pieces. At this stage, I’m assuming we don’t practice them at Lennoxtown ?

     

     

    Ibrox is in everyones eyeline now. We need to defend set pieces. Set pieces, set pieces and more set pieces at Lennoxtown for the next two weeks please Neil.

     

     

    They’ll play for set pieces all day long and we’ll be beat comfortably if we don’t rectify this weakness very soon.

  7. AN DÚN on 22ND DECEMBER 2020 2:08 PM

     

     

    I don’t think picking Brown was the problem, the problem was keeping him on for so long.

     

     

    Lennon seems to be very late with his subs. We could see we were starting to get overrun but waits until we concede to start changing things. Soro should’ve come on far sooner.

  8. McCann, Boyd and Dodds – Now where have I heard those names before?🤔Ah! Got it now….

     

     

    RANGERS PLAYERS AND STAFF WHO GOT EBTs

     

     

    Alan Hutton

     

    Alex McLeish

     

    Alex Rae

     

    Andrei Kanchelskis

     

    Andrew Dickson

     

    Arthur Numan

     

    Barry Ferguson

     

    Bert Konterman

     

    Bert Van Lingen

     

    Billy Dodds

     

    Bob Malcolm

     

    Campbell Ogilvie

     

    Carlos Cuellar

     

    Chris Burke

     

    Christian Nerlinger

     

    Claudio Caniggia

     

    Craig Moore

     

    Dado Prso

     

    Dan Eggen

     

    Sir David Murray

     

    Dick Advocaat

     

    Douglas Odam

     

    Egil Ostenstad

     

    Fernando Ricksen

     

    Federico Nieto

     

    Gavin Rae

     

    George Adams

     

    Graeme Souness

     

    Gregory Vignal

     

    Ian McGuinness

     

    Ian Murray

     

    Jan Wouters

     

    Jean-Alain Boumsong

     

    Jerome Bonnissel

     

    Jesper Christiansen

     

    Joel Le Hir

     

    John Greig

     

    John McClelland

     

    Julien Rodriguez

     

    Kevin Muscat

     

    Kris Boyd

     

    Libor Sionko

     

    Lorenzo Amoruso

     

    Martin Bain

     

    Marvin Andrews

     

    Maurice Ross

     

    Michael Ball

     

    Michael Mols

     

    Mikel Arteta

     

    Nacho Novo

     

    Neil McCann

     

    Nuno Capucho

     

    Olivier Bernard

     

    Paolo Vanoli

     

    Paul Le Guen

     

    Pedro Mendes

     

    Peter Lovenkrands

     

    Robert Reilly

     

    Ronald De Boer

     

    Ronald Waterreus

     

    Sasa Papac

     

    Sotirios Kyrgiakos

     

    Stefan Klos

     

    Stephane Wiertelak

     

    Steven Davis

     

    Steven Smith

     

    Steven Thompson

     

    Tero Penttila

     

    Thomas Buffel

     

    Tore Andre Flo

     

    Yves Colleau

     

    Zurab Khizanishvili

     

     

    CHEATIN’ HUN BASTARDS – and NEVER let them forget that. ☘

  9. Hutton goat a gig on Sly Sports at the weekend.

     

     

     

    There has to be a Crafty aspekt to this somewhere………………

     

     

    Bold as brass knuckleshufflin’ hunnery.

     

     

    HHH.

  10. We need 2 Forwards playing Eh Forward.

     

     

    G/K

     

     

    Ajer Duffy Julliene Laxalt

     

     

    Soro McGregor

     

     

    Frimpong Turnbull

     

     

    Griffiths Eduoard

     

     

    Goals, Goals, Goals

     

     

    That’s what that team will give you

     

     

    D :)

  11. An dun- I think you’re right. If we were set up properly to defend set pieces and straightforward crosses into the box we would have won at a canter on Sunday, and would not have lost to sevco last time around.

     

     

    If we could only sort one issue out in detail in the next week or two then that would be it. Closely followed by stopping the crosses amd not conceding cheap free kicks in dangerous areas.

     

     

    I thought the marked improvement with Soro, mcgregor and turnbull as the midfield three was thatvwe looked alot more compact and really protected the back 4. The first half on Sunday was similar so perhaps it is more personnel than shape. Fir me that means Soro must feature heavily from now on even if it means as a 35 minute sub at mordor.

     

     

    On a different note, the thing that fills me most with sone belief that we can do what needs to be done us the absolute overconfidence at glasgow’s newest club.

  12. Sorry in advance if I appear negative, but Julien and particularly Duffy, is not a settled defence.

     

    Mention of Forster coming back, he’d lose goals as well with those two clowns in front of him.

     

    Perhaps if our back three was Forster, Barkas and Hazard we may just have a chance provided we play them all in goal.

     

    But what do I know

     

     

    SCHUMMI

  13. As you may have commented through expletives on Sunday, these two are not a partnership. Not yet, anyway; they have three games to change that.

     

     

    the best defensive coach in the world whoever that may be would never ever make a central defensive partnership out of Julien and Duffy are both are rank rotten.

  14. why harp on about our so called defenders at set pieces , set pieces , set pieces we can practice all day long at Lennoxtown or any town , to put it bluntly as I said before Jullien and Duffy are rank rotten at defending and any amount of practice will make no difference with that pairing.

     

    Ajer is a stop gap right back because we have tried the rest and no one is good enough to keep the position.

  15. Schummi – Cheers, think someone else posted the same team.

     

     

    I would play Eddie wide of Griff, infact give him a free role.

     

     

    Soro sitting to the right of centre, Cal mac slightly further forward on left but not in Laxalts path. Turnbull and Frimpers in front of those 2 but they have to put in a right good shift.

     

     

    Ajer sitting when laxalts up the park and vice versa.

     

     

    With Frimpongs pace covering when the viking overlaps.

     

     

    This management malarkey is a dawdle

     

     

    D :)

  16. SCANIEL

     

     

    If you are lurking I wish to say it was good to see you back on the site.

     

    I also wish to take my hat off to you for the tireless work you do looking after animals, no matter what kind.

     

    Well done wee you.

     

    As i keep saying to my wife, animals are straight up, no angles, you know what you get, but humans—- don’t get me started.

     

    All the very best to you , stay safe, have a good safe Christmas and a healthy New Year.

     

    SCHUMMI

  17. I agree about our centre back position.

     

     

    I do think we need to find 2 at the club and play them regularly beside each other.

     

     

    D :)

  18. Can’t see anything changing soon unless there is a change of management team.

     

     

    On Sunday my mate texted me at 65mins to say . He’s getting tactically outhought by a championship manager and doesn’t know what to do.

  19. Gene

     

    I thought 3pm today was the deadline so it doesn`t look like it.

     

    I am surprised, given the article `Ex ref calls for Naismith Ban ` at the side of this page, that so few have felt it worth commenting on.

  20. The biggest issue remains our management team. Until that is changed, I doubt we will see a sustained improvement in performance.

     

     

    That being said, I would argue that the following should be nailed on for the foreseeable:

     

     

    -Barkas as number one.

     

     

    Hazard’s performance during the 120 mins was comfortably worse than anything Barkas has produced. He flapped at 2 Hearts goals; didn’t look clever for the first either; looked unsure when coming out of his box (almost leading to Naismith scoring) and routinely kicked the ball straight out of the park.

     

     

    -Playing a back 4.

     

     

    Ajer has made the RB slot his own. You have to hand it to him, he is a good footballer and is likely to go on to better things.

     

     

    Jullien is a quality CB. His numbers show he is the best of the BR/NL era. The fact we have had multiple weak fullbacks, defensive partners and an aging SB in front of him does not detract from his quality.

     

     

    Duffy and Bitton are a toss up. Laxalt should be a stick on.

     

     

    -Play two strikers.

     

     

    All things being equal, Edouard is our best player. We should therefore choose a system which gets the best out of him

     

     

    He missed chances v Hearts but in general play he was completely isolated and did not have much impact on the game.

     

     

    I would play Edouard and Ajeti as a starting pair, as Ajeti looked a natural poacher when he arrived; god knows what has happened to him in the interim. At Ibrox I’d play Kilmala for his running and power, with Ajeti or LG to come on for the final 30.

  21. ROLLING STONE

     

    A fair assessment, other than Laxalt. I really don’t see what he offers, that’s any better than Taylor.

  22. How many assaults Must our players suffer before the Club takes positive action against this FtSFA and its refereeing

     

    That’s the 4ths so far in this short season ytd that no action by FtSFA Compliance and her random officials who review things 😡😡😡🍀4

  23. How often does Greg Taylor need to hit the player directly in front of him with the ball, before you notice how poor he is 🤔

     

    Or how often does he have to make wrong decision on ball retention ?

     

    Sorry poor player

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