Well that was more like it, wasn’t it folks?
For a while there we were watching Celtic, actual Celtic as opposed to this pale and horrible imitation that has been traipsing through our days and our nightmares for the past few months.
So what changed? Hell, what didn’t change tonight?
The team shape was more solid, the midfield had more energy, the coaches talked to one another – at one stage all three of them seemed to be reviewing data and working on something at once, an amazing sight especially in light of recent dugout moments from our Hellscape November.
The defence looked a like ropey at times; the Lille goal is another shocker, a ball across the box where there’s a guy in acres of room and can tap the ball into the back of the net. We’re going to have to get a grip on that if we’re going to start pointing SPL points back on the board and begin the steady task of clawing back the Ibrox club’s lead.
Let’s talk individual performances for a moment; David Turnbull was superb and he took his goal absolutely brilliantly. What a night he had.
He has great footwork, he can pass a ball superbly and aside from Leigh Griffiths, who will likely feature at Euro 2020, he is the best striker of a dead ball at the club. A good player like that in your regular starting eleven can get you a dozen goals a season from assists from corners and free kicks.
One of my bugbears with the team is that we don’t seem to work on that stuff … and that’s not a criticism of Lennon because Rodgers didn’t either. It’s stupid because a good corner taker or someone who can put a good free kick into the box is a huge asset and a deadly weapon.
Kris Ajer had one of his best games in a while. His run and assist for goal number three was quite exceptional. I really enjoyed watching him tonight. His technical ability is obvious, especially when he broke forward into the midfield. It amazes me that we’ve never given this guy a proper run in his actual position …
I understood why Rodgers started this experiment, and the Bitton one as well but I don’t understand why Lennon has stuck with it. Rodgers fitted it into his overall system of play … Lennon sticks to it because otherwise the board would have to buy some actual centre backs.
Klimala ran all over the place; he can play, most definitely. We need to figure out what his best system is and we’ll see him become a very important footballer. We sometimes need reminding of how much talent there is in this team … we got some signs of it.
To me the best player in the Celtic team tonight was Ismaeli Soro. I thought he was imamense and looked like someone who really has something to offer. I wrote a week or so ago that he is surely good enough to play SPL games … well tonight he looked the part against a far better side than he is likely to face domestically. He is tough in the tackle and reads the game exceptionally well. He put in one Hell of a shift and I think he’s played his way into contention.
He and Turnbull should retain their places for the weekend. IF we’re going to bring Brown back I suggest replacing Callum McGregor for the day; he looked dead on his feet from an early stage tonight and made a number of errors including a key one for the first goal.
I thought there was real purpose and drive to the team tonight and especially in midfield. I still get the fear whenever we have to defend, an tonight was no exception. Connor Hazard made one good save but had little to do except pick the ball out of the net twice … we need to think long and hard about our goalkeeping situation.
Overall tonight, the team and the performance got pass marks. It was a fine performance in many ways, and it lasted 90 minutes for once.
I want to talk about the coaches, but that’s a bigger article than this. Something about their general demeanour was very different tonight and I want to gather my thoughts on that before I put it down on paper. All I can say is that they got pass marks as well.
That was much, much more like it. If Lennon wants to make life significantly easier for himself and the team he will do one simple thing; leave the midfield alone. Turnbull and Soro deserve to start at the weekend. This was their graduation night.