The odd thing about the 4-4-2 we went with tonight is how long it’s been since I’ve seen that formation being played by our club. There was a time when that was the system we’d have been expecting, one that we would barely have varied over the course of the campaign.
The 4-4-2 is seen sometimes as an outdated system; what nonsense this is.
Like any tactical formation, its utility lies in a combination of the personnel you have to execute it, the opposition you’re likely to be facing and style you build it around. I thought we could have been better at getting the ball forward tonight; our team still looks very slow in the build-up instead of being fast and aggressive going forward.
But everything else about it worked out just fine. The 4-4-2 is the most balanced system in the game. That’s what it gave us tonight. A solid framework to build on. Which is why I thought the second half in particular was as good as we’ve played in a while.
The beauty of that system tonight is that there weren’t really any square pegs in round holes.
The strikers are both strikers. The full backs played as full backs. The centre backs were in their normal position. The defensive midfielder played a little further back. The attacking midfielder sat behind the strikers. Callum played on the left, Ryan on the right.
Only Christie isn’t a natural in the role he assumed this evening, because he’s naturally left footed and if you were going to play him out wide that’s where you’d prefer him to be. But Callum McGregor played much of his career wide on the left and I thought he was a good fit in that role tonight.
People who questioned it do so because they forget how versatile he is.
Left midfield is only one of the roles in which he’s quite comfortable.
It was good to see that system being used tonight. It was good to see us revert back to a more traditional, a more Celtic-like, approach to the game. I liked watching us in that system, even if I’d have been happier with more forward play and a couple more goals.
That aside, I feel pretty chuffed that Leigh Griffiths got a start and of course got a goal.
What do people expect? You play Griffiths and that’s what you’ll get; 100% commitment and more often than not the ball in the back of the net. When Lennon said yesterday that Leigh still has a lot to prove to him it wasn’t the first time this season I’ve flatly disagreed.
Griffiths has nothing to prove, not to anybody.
If Leigh is as full of himself as the manager described him yesterday it is surely because he knows he can put the ball in the net better than any other footballer in the country. I wish we could say the same for Edouard right now; that guy looks a shadow of the player we know he can be.
Yet tonight we saw flashes of the old Eddie as well … that will come with having a regular strike partner alongside him, I’d bet.
And what can you say for Soro and Turnbull? Another decent display from them both, with Turnbull proving, again, that he has great instincts and an eye for goal. Whatever we decide to do in the future as a club, our next manager has a chance to build the team around this guy.
The performance was not spectacular, but it was solid enough.
The football got better as the game went on. You could see the players finding a little of the old rhythm.
Don’t worry about results elsewhere, and don’t let anyone bother you about them.
The important thing is that we won and that we keep on putting the points on the board.
The next test is on Saturday at a tough place where we’ve frequently dropped points … the same system with the same personnel will give us a very good chance of winning it.