Celtic’s Left Side Looked More Balanced Yesterday, Even Without Jota In The Side.

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After the Livingston game, I went for a beer with a couple of friends of mine, one of whom was the frequent contributor to the site, Matthew Marr.

He said something curious that day which I have remembered since when discussing the talents of Juranovic.

He suggested that we would never see the best of this team, or the player, until he was playing on the right side of the pitch and we had a truly left sided defender on the other.

Matthew is one of the guys who watches games closely, and scrutinises every little thing.

He was particularly focussed, that day, on the delivery into the penalty box from the flanks, which as you’ll know I was furious about that afternoon because it was a failed strategy.

Well Matthew thought that Juranovic was part of the reason why it failed.

“He takes too long to cross the ball,” he said. “Because he has to hesitate for that split second to get it onto his better foot.”

And in recent weeks I’ve been watching to confirm that he’s right, and of course he is. As good as the left side has been, it would have been stronger if we had the overlapping full-back able to run and cross in one fluid move.

Juranovic performed all his defensive duties well.

It’s in the attacking third that he came up short, and placed too much of the burden on Jota. Not that this has been a problem, of course, because Jota has carried that burden exceptionally well.

But yesterday I thought the left side had a proper balance to it, even though Mikey Johnson can’t move with the ball as well as Jota and his crossing ability is far below what the Portuguese player can do.

The change comes from having the full-back able to cross with his left, so there’s no moment of pause, no break in the rhythm that gives defenders that second longer to get in position to block the incoming ball.

For all Greg Taylor has his critics – they moan in the comments here every time I write his name – he can do, on that side of the pitch, what Juranovic can’t.

That ability gave Mikey an added option when he had the ball yesterday; make the run or give it to Taylor to put in the cross. That balanced out Mikey Johnson’s weaknesses to a certain extent.

The manager himself is well aware of this, which is why he wants a permanent solution on the left hand side of the pitch in the January window. I am only surprised that he’s not in the market – as far as we know – for another left-sided midfielder as well.

But the team has a much better balance when players are in their best roles, and in this system even a defender as good as Juranovic does weaken the overall balance when he’s not playing where he should be.

Moves like that will do, in a pinch, but for this team to be at its very best it has to be built out of all the best bits assembled in the right order.

At the weekend, even without Jota, that left side operated better.

Once he’s fit and we have a new boy in at left back, I think our opponents and rivals will be even more trouble than they are right now.

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  • jrm63 says:

    Fair enough but I think that Liam Scales has a brilliant left foot and can defend a ball in the air. I would like to see him get a run out on Thursday

  • John S says:

    I’ve always thought that Taylor is under-rated, perhaps still is.

  • Johnny Green says:

    We have a left back, Liam Scales, we need not look any further.

  • Jake Hansen says:

    We need another option. Imagine Scales playing in Europe…no thank you.

  • Patrick McGovern says:

    I don’t entirely disagree, but Juranovic wasn’t as effective as Ralston (That might just be the change) and without Jota the team had to look for other avenues rather than just one…which spread the attack and is something Ange had already mentioned

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