Ange Will Almost Certainly Learn A Valuable Lesson About His Celtic Team Tonight.

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One of the more troubling aspects of the plan Ange intends to follow is the prospect of having a midfield permanently built around one defensive player and two attackers. It’s a little gung-ho and can leave the defence cruelly exposed.

If there was ever a night where we might get awful evidence of that it is this one.

Leverkusen are head and shoulders above any side we have faced so far or any side that we are likely to come up against. They are a brilliant team, full of great footballers and capable, on their day, of challenging any top side in Europe.

They come to Celtic Park tonight at the worst possible time for us, a time when we’re all asking questions about some of the ideas the manager has about how the game should be played. It’s all well and good not wanting to compromise on his principles, but the first principle for a Celtic manager should be doing what he has to in order to win.

I don’t expect us to win tonight. Few do. Anything other than a loss will be a huge result, because we’re just not ready at the moment for a test of this magnitude. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t, and won’t, learn something from the experience.

I think one of the most valuable lessons might come about in the midfield, if Ange feels that we need to shut the back door to avoid a real hammering. Playing two defensive midfielders instead of one – providing everyone is fit – might be the way to go in certain games.

Ange needs to be a pragmatist as well as an ideologue. Clearly, you would like to think we could get away with swashbuckling football which takes the game to our opponents and leaves them reeling every week … in practice it just won’t be possible.

Some games are going to be battles and I’ve seen nothing to suggest that Rogic and Turnbull are an effective midfield partnership on days like that. McCarthy might not be to everyone’s taste, but if you team him up with Callum you get a better balance.

Our success of recent years was built around two capable holding players, McGregor and Brown. I am certain that the manager has actually considered this and I’m half convinced that only our injury crisis has denied the manager the chance to play McGregor and McCarthy in the same team up until now; that time is certainly almost upon us.

I suspect that when he does that we’ll see a far more solid shape to the team, and it might be what finally puts on us a halfway decent run. Furthermore, if Callum really is going to be ready to return to first team action I think we might see it at some point tonight.

With McCarthy in the holding role, as Brown used to be, Callum becomes a potent attacking weapon, but unlike with Rogic and Turnbull, he has defensive assets as well. This is why I’ve long thought of him as the most important player at the club.

On a night like this one, we can afford a Rogic or Turnbull to give support to the three front men. We cannot afford both of them. That’s asking for trouble.

Manchester United are struggling to make a similar midfield system work and they have Fernandes and Pogba in their attacking roles with McTominey providing cover for the back four; this isn’t just about personnel; it’s about leaving yourself exposed no matter what footballers you have at your disposal. Come up against the wrong team and you get punished.

Ange must have seen enough by now to know what’s what.

Tonight could be a brutal lesson if he hasn’t already learned some stuff, but that’s why they call it a lesson, because even a real tanking can teach you something … it can teach you what not to do in future.

One way or another, we’re about to find out a few things about these players, this manager and the style he wants to play. Good or bad, as long as we learn tonight might prove to be the turning point in this campaign regardless of what the result happens to be.

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  • Jim Duffy says:

    Could it be any worse than some of the hammerings we took under Brendan Rodgers, 11 -1 agg against PSG springs to mind.

  • MarK B says:

    Ange needs to learn we are not good enough to go toe to toe with this quality. Again our defence woeful. I say it again we need a centre half a left back and a defensive midfielder. And an earlier article said we have the best squad in the SPL. Rangers entire back five would walk into our team. This is why sadly I think we won’t win the league . Juranovic and Julien will help we need two more.

    • Kyogos Dream Team says:

      You having a laff m8 lol! Big Shirley rangt EXPOSED like u cdnt believe, McGregor saved them fae a DOING! We just need tae beat Aberdeen Sun & watch Hibs PUMP THE FILTH!

  • Peter cassidy says:

    The German team just to good for celtic we really are poor at defending ange needs to get a coach who can sort out our defending ASAP but also some of players just not good enough against a good side the way things are going we are in for a very tough season but when sell players for £15 million plus and buy for £3 or £4 million to replace them what can you expect sometimes you get a gem but most times pretty average players or in our case recently duds.

  • Geoff McLean says:

    Experiment over
    Ange has to go
    Two at the back is a disaster
    Inverted full backs?
    Cal Mac saying it’s a very very high demanding style of football
    Great if you are Barca under Pep at their peak
    This is going to end in total embarrassment if he is allowed to continue with this blinkered strategy

    • Kyogos Dream Team says:

      Inverted Full backs, Ralston & Montgomery lol! Must put the fear ae God intae all in EUROPE. NOT LOL! We HAD to score 1st & Kyogo had 2 good chances but alas failed! We are a pub team same as the FILTH who but fur McGregor wd have conceded 6 or 7, they are TRULY HOPELESS!! Pump the Mogadons Sun, they WILL NOT beat Hibs so a draw cuts it tae 4! Win the League & they are as BUST AS A BALLOON CLAIMING ’55 LOL! A Deidco like NO OTHER who get a player sent aff every game in Europe but in this SAD WEE COUNTRY Refs are as BLUN as a guy on 12 Stella claimimg he’s Soba lol!

    • Mark B says:

      CorrectMcGregor saved them from a doing as he is an fantastic keeper. Thanks for making my point. Since Rodgers we have sold nearly 100m talent and not replaced them that is the issue. Dembele 20 Tierney 25 edouard 15 Frimpong 10 Ajer 13 Armstrong 7 Christie 2 That’s 92m Add loss of Brown and Gordon and aSincliar and you can see why we are so poor. Shocking squad management. Board should be ashamed.

  • Ian O'Donnell says:

    I don’t think McCarthy is the answer, but he’s got four years to prove me wrong, thanks to DD.

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