Today, Ange is going with a team that should be close to what we think of as his “starting eleven” at the present time.
In a strong line-up, which nevertheless has Nir Bitton at central defence, he’s going with a 4-2-3-1 with Ajeti at the tip of the spear but with Soro, McGregor and Turnbull in the central midfield. Taylor and Ralston at the full backs with Welsh joining Bitton.
Barkas keeps his play between the sticks.
All good so far, but what’s especially interesting is that he’s gone for Karamoko Dembele wide right and Montgomery wide left. Before we get to Dembele, let’s talk for a minute about Montgomery.
We were on the verge – thanks to this much heralded coaching team – of making a huge and unforgivable mistake with this kid.
He’s a winger, so of course our coaching geniuses were trying to turn him into a full-back, a position requiring an entirely different skillset.
He played at left back against Sheffield Wednesday. He may well find himself playing left back again today, as he’s listed in the “second eleven” as well, along with Mikey Johnston. It’s up to the kid to perform in his preferred role and talk people out of this utter stupidity which has wasted many good players not only at Celtic Park but elsewhere.
Dembele wide right is obviously excellent news, although Owen Moffat, who was exceptional in midweek, can consider himself unlucky not to have kept his starting place. He isn’t listed for the second string, which is a real surprise to me, but it’s obvious that the manager wants a look at as many players as he can. For all that there are notable absences.
There is no Kris Ajer. There is no Bolingoli, which I find absurd if it means we’re throwing this guy aside like garbage. When you consider who was brought back into the fold it’s ridiculous not to give the full back another look. He might well get a chance, but I thought he’d have featured at some point today. Olivier Ntcham will; he’s amongst the living again.
Osaze Urhoghide will play. Which is excellent, and a big relief that we’re going to get an opportunity to watch this boy taking a bow. Brilliant news, that. We’re also going to get another look at the hugely impressive Shaw and the highly rated centre back Hjelde.
Let me tell you now, I’d rather we made sure that kid was secured on a long-term deal and readied for a place in the side than us chasing the likes of Ben Davies on loan. Our utter failure to do more than pay token attention to the academy is why so many kids with potential – like Hjelde – have walked out on us for pastures new. That has to end.
Interesting team today … although I wonder for how long the manager is going to stick to the same old knackered formation, which I think all of us want to see ditched at the earliest opportunity. One up front is painful to watch.