The Haaland Massacre Is A Strange Vindication Of Celtic’s More Ensemble Approach.

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How do you analyse the performance of the team when one player is head and shoulders above the team?

Above everyone, really, who is playing at the highest level in the game today?

This week we saw one of the great strikers of his generation take a step towards being one of the greatest ever. Erling Haaland so completely destroyed RB Leipzig that all the media could talk about was how good he was and how good he yet might be.

And somewhere amidst all that, a question died on the vine; just how good were Manchester City on the night? How much of that annihilating final score was owed to the brilliance of the team, and how much of it owed to the brilliance of just one man?

One of the strengths of City these past few years was that they operated as a unit. As a team. They were fearsomely effective at that. You never knew which player in their side might conjure up a moment of brilliance. Those players are all still there, but the style is different, the team is reshaped and all to accommodate a single individual.

Don’t get me wrong; that individual is absolutely exceptional.

He may yet go on to shatter all the records which stand, and redefine what we mean when we talk about the modern centre forward. He does not possess the masterful, magical talent of Messi. He does not have the arrogance and the blazing skills of Ronaldo. But he’s not all about brute force either, although with his size and physicality he can certainly play that role.

Messi could play anywhere across the front. Ronaldo too.

Haaland is an old-fashioned centre forward … but the impression grows that he might not be like any we’ve ever seen before.

The writers at The Guardian, who have seen it all, wonder if he’s not more Terminator than man, a machine perfectly crafted for the purpose of scoring goals.

It might seem odd to mention Ange and Kyogo Furuhashi in an article that is centred on Haaland and City.

But in fact, it all comes to bear.

Because this was the week when Ange publicly told his players that one of their principle jobs on the pitch is getting the ball to the Japanese Bhoy. He, too, is a goal-scorer of supreme talent and skill.

Yet Ange has no intention of shaping this team to suit the talents of a single excellent player, and nor should he. This is the most complete Celtic “team” I’ve watched in no small part because that’s what it plays like. We have outstanding individuals in every position … but not one of them is allowed to become the fulcrum the whole side revolves around.

Imagine something happens to Haaland.

What do City do, now that they’ve crafted a system around him?

Now that he’s the man responsible for carrying so much of the burden of their team? Hey, those broad shoulders of his are perfectly capable of it … but that’s not a healthy way for any manager to put a team together.

That will never be us. Look at Ange’s decision to sign Oh, a very different player than Kyogo and a guy who will lead the line for us many, many times. There are rumours about another striker in the summer, and I would bet he’ll be a different sort again.

This is not a one-man band. This is an ensemble.

This is a meeting of talents, and the merging of them.

So is City, by the way … or it has been up until now. No matter how good Haaland is, they have lost a little of that in his acquisition and in the building of this team around one footballer.

I think it’s an error. It’s one we must not repeat.

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  • Johnny Green says:

    I’m not sure what to make of that conclusion, repeat what error?

    Erling Haaland playing up front for Celtic would be an mistake I would be prepared to risk,. 🙂

  • Roonsa says:

    As much as Haaland is an absolute beast of a man and phenomenal talent on the park, you have to say that City has been put together by a genius of a manager. I don’t like him – Pep Guardiola – I think his manner is that of a smug and arrogant man. I don’t like to see City win. I always want the other team to win whether it be Man Utd, Liverpool or Arsenal. But I cannot take anything away from how brilliant that team is. Haaland is a vital part of that team but he still is only part of it. It’s all down to Pep as far as I am concerned.

  • S Thomas says:

    Haaland is a phenomenal goal scorer.. but there is others in that team as well. Grealish is a cracking player, as is Gundoghan, De bruyne is absolute class, young Foden is a brilliant young player, I could go on. Man City are a brilliant side, with class all over the pitch. Any team in world football would want Haaland, I would also take Harry Kane as wel, another class player. The EPL is the best league in the world, of that there is no doubt.

    • Johnny Green says:

      Since that leagues inception English teams have won the CL six times, yes six times in 25 years. Spanish teams have won it 11 times, so please explain to me why the EPL is the best.

      • Johnny Green says:

        Actually the EPL has been going for 30 years, La Liga is much better as the CL results prove. Best league in the World, my arse!

        • S Thomas says:

          Spanish league is like watching paint dry.. it would bore the life out of you. The EPL is excellent, and it has the best players as well. Man City vs Liverpool or Arsenal etc, beats any Spanish game. The late 90’s and early 2000’s when it was Wenger against Ferguson was must watch. Are you anti English or something ?

          • S Thomas says:

            None whatsoever pal I’m as cool as a cucumber. A unionist because I like the EPL lol. What happens if you like the bundlesliga, does that make you a Nazi lol.

        • S Thomas says:

          And also why is the EPL watched by more people in the world than any other league?. The fella wee signed from South Korea Oh says “ It’s my dream to play in the English premier league”. Why did he not mention the Spanish league. The reason being the EPL is by far the best , that’s why.

        • S Thomas says:

          Is there something wrong with not having anything against English people Johnny, are you a racist Jonny. There is a lot of extremely nice English people scatter brain. So if something says they are anti Irish they are racists, but people like you are allowed to hate English people. Is that not racist or bigoted ? Oh and ps I don’t hate Britain either, oh god I must be a hun now for saying that lol. Go and educate yourself pal.

        • S Thomas says:

          Your answer is just pure anti English.. that’s a typical bigoted and racist answer. You are the person with the bias, and the chip in your shoulder. You should go down south and have a conversation with people, they are actually nice. I’m taking my daughters down to Yorkshire, the Yorkshire people are actually really nice and friendly. If I think the EPL is the best then so be it. Oh is from South Korea , he thinks it’s the best, what’s your excuse for him lol. La liga is boring as anything man. I wouldn’t watch it, if you paid me.

  • Woodyiom says:

    James – Haaland gives City a focal point up front, nothing more nothing less, which they didn’t have before. They still play their brilliant “keep the ball” football as they always have but now when they create their overloads or work a player free in space they can look up and see a striker to aim for – previously there would be times when De Bruyne would look to ping one of his amazing crosses and there would be no-one in the box as they didn’t have a natural striker who’s first instinct is to run into the danger area and expect the ball played in for him. City will not be reduced to some average team when Haaland is out of the team – merely they will not be as devastating or cliinical as he is one hell of a striker and any team would miss him. EVERY team in the world would have him if they could and would be infinitely better as a result. I can’t see how having Haaland and building your team around him could EVER be an error. Do you not think that’s what Madrid did with Ronaldo or Barcelona did with Messi???

  • Johnno says:

    Pep and Klopp transformed the game today with going for the 3 man forward line.
    Was bought up with the 442 which depended moreso on the 2 central strikers with devastating wide midfielders, one which MON and fergie did in England and Scotland.
    Ange is currently mastering that in Scotland, actually better with many more options available to him still.
    This modern approach still depends upon being brave upon the ball and a very high workrate without as the counter attack can be devastating if the press is beaten, an area we need to improve upon within European football going forward.
    Still remains a shame to many Scottish teams lack that bravery and would rather play for set pieces or hoofs into the area as a way of scoring a goal still.
    Of course we won’t get the credit for the approach Ange has brought to Scottish football, rather run scared and trying to unsettle that approach and all the while looking in and lapping up the shit there getting served up on a weekly basis

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Man City, huge example of everythin that’s wrang wi football these days and the vulgar amount of money bein spent. Anyway, tho iterestin view, just where WOULD we be right now, if kyogo had been out injured, or even picks one up. For me thats a concern. Nae disrespect, tho Oh, at this time, disnae look a potent back up. Just an opinion.

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