For some, it was a shock last night to get the team sheet and see that Odsonne Edouard had been relegated to the bench.
Yet it was clearly the right thing for the manager to do, and the team looked better off for it.
The movement up front was better.
We were more clinical in front of goal.
We scored four, of course, with all the front men piling in, but it could have been eight.
The thing I’ve lamented most lately, more even than poor defending, is the lack of a cutting edge.
Last night, we had that.
We created plenty of chances.
Had we not suffered such appalling lapses in defending, everyone would be talking about the new sense of threat we carry. Instead, the media gets to do its usual and pick apart negatives. But going forward we were excellent.
Which brings us to Eddie.
Odsonne Edouard, the best striker to play for this club since Larsson, will almost certainly depart in this window, as we all know. Or at least, we hope so because otherwise we’ll be lucky to get back the £9 million we allegedly paid for him.
It feels weird to actually be waiting for the sale of a key player, waking up every day to find out if it’s a done deal, and especially when we’ve all put such faith in Eddie over the past few years.
But there’s no doubt that many of us are doing exactly that, no doubt that we’re keen to see this matter brought to a close and a replacement brought in, so that this club can move on.
There are some who have attempted to defend Edouard’s performances with stats and analytics; they are useful tools, to be sure, but the evidence of our own eyes isn’t to be ignored, and the best stats are those produced last night when he wasn’t in the team; four goals, that energy in the top half of the pitch, the movement off the ball, the interplays.
Even if Edouard were not in the last year of his deal, there’s a critical question that has to be asked; has this team, and our style, begun to evolve beyond him?
Just as Lennon’s style would have benefited immensely from Charlie Wyke or some other penalty box poacher, has our team started to transform into one in which a player of Eddie’s type may not be the best option?
Let me put it this way, we’ve made a lot of mistakes with our signing policy.
The one that sums it up for me was Patryk Klimala, who’s signing was a mystery until he left and then John Kennedy, of all people, explained what his key attributes were; pace, awareness, quick reactions … in short, Klimala is a classic counter-attacking footballer.
The one problem with that is simple enough to see; we don’t play a counter-attacking game.
The signing of Klimala for a system which didn’t utilise any of his talents was a nonsense. We never even attempted to adapt our style to suit him; instead we tried to adapt his style to suit ours, which was never going to work.
It might just be that Eddie’s more languid playing style doesn’t suit what the manager wants to do.
Ange clearly sees that he’s got a top footballer on his hands … but maybe not one entirely suited to the way he wants this team to function. The manager will not build the team around Eddie, just as Lennon would never have built the team around Klimala.
The difference is, we signed Klimala knowing how we played and knowing he didn’t fit the system … Eddie and Celtic might just be travelling in different directions.
One thing is for sure; for anyone who worried about life after Eddie, and whether or not we would be weaker for it, last night provided at least part of the answer.
If we’re busy sourcing his replacement, then expect things to be clearer either shortly before or shortly after he goes.
But it’s a change we no longer need to be quite so fearful of.