That was better. Not brilliant, just better.
We’re a long way from our best. We’re a way from being particularly easy on the eye. One up front is still an eyesore system which fails to get the best out of our front men, no matter which of them we play. But we’ve definitely taken more of what Lennon called “baby steps” when we won in midweek.
The defence looked more solid today. Ajer looks oddly convincing as a right back and it lets him get up and down the pitch in that way he enjoys. Duffy had his best game since signing for the club, making no mistakes. He and Jullien look a good central pair … albiet this was Kilmarnock and not someone who will give us a stiffer test.
The midfield played well together, although it took Callum McGregor 45 minutes to get involved in the game. After a virtually anonymous first half he came onto his game in the second and I thought form that moment he pretty much ran the show.
Soro was solid and unspectacular; remember, that’s what you want from a player in his position. It’s not sexy football you are looking for, not major theatrics … you want a steady performance in a highly specialised area. The defence looks much calmer with a guy in that slot who is capable of chasing down fifty-fifty balls and patrolling the area at full speed.
I am going to enjoy watching David Turnbull. We all are. He has so much quality, and you can see him starting to form little partnerships, little understandings, with individuals in the team. The longer he plays the more we’ll see of him. The more we see of him the more we are going to like him. He and Soro have played themselves into contention for the final.
Now for the not-so-much areas.
Frimpong is too lightweight at the moment to play a role as a winger in a league where players can scythe him down without sanction. He needs to bulk up, but this would be an issue even if he played in his natural role. There is no question that this kid has all the talent in the world. He just needs to be able to back it up with muscle.
Elyounoussi drifts in and out of games, although he is clearly a major talent. I still think his best position is in the hole behind the strikers; we have a lot of players vying for that job though, which shows that our squad is still very imbalanced. Yet he popped up today with a goal … although if you wanted to be cruel you could rip that out of his hands and give it to Duffy.
Edouard has a poor day. Again. I feel sorry for him, slaving away one man alone against a constant bank of defenders. Lennon is back to one up front, and that leaves him isolated and lost. The decision to take him off for Klimala was frustrating as neither of those guys is a lone striker and Lennon keeps on persisting with this nonsense … it has already cost us. It is going to keep costing us until he finds a system which incorporates another forward.
We play in the SPL. We should have enough about us defensively and in midfield to utilise two strikers without worry that it makes us vulnerable at the back. In Europe I can see some sense in one – although God forbid Lennon gets another campaign in that arena – but here in Scotland we should be looking to batter teams into submission.
I think we’re all happy to see us putting three points on the board today, but it wasn’t vintage Celtic. There were signs of improvement, but as to the direction of travel you need to wonder. We’ve seen too many backward steps this season already to be confident there will be no more. This team needs to put together a run on the back of this.
And to do that, we’re going to have to keep improving, game by game.