For Rodgers To Survive And Win This League He Has To Change Celtic’s Playing Style.

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As the week goes on – this long, tense week which threatens to be nearly unbearable – I will write a series of pieces on the blame game.

There is no question that one of those most responsible for this mess is the manager. But he has some mitigation at least, which I’ll talk about in the article specifically on his role here.

Yet there is little doubt that Brendan Rodgers is under real pressure.

He might not survive it.

I said when he made his initial statement about working with what he was given that this was madness, this was putting his destiny in someone else’s hands and that he might live to regret that. By the time the window closed it was clear that the directors had rolled right over him, his wishes considered utterly irrelevant. As a result, his neck is now on the block.

Rodgers team is dreadful to watch. Let’s not make any bones about this. We can’t kid ourselves here, and we especially cannot tell ourselves comforting lies. This team shape is all wrong. The playing style is all wrong. The system has us playing players who shouldn’t be near the team, and the worst thing is that opposing managers have us completely figured out.

Listen to them talking. McInnes knew what his team had to do to beat us. Naismith knew they could get a result, even at Celtic Park, which most managers in Scotland believed was Mission: Impossible. We already know that Martindale is the king of negative football with a physical edge; I cannot think of a worse team to be playing against this weekend.

And if we play using that dire to watch and easy to counter style, we are going to drop more points and the fury that will rain down from those stands will be more intense than anyone at the club has experienced in their careers. It must not happen.

Rodgers has the duration of this week to work this out. Most importantly, he needs to find a way to take the shackles off Kyogo Furuhashi, because what’s happened to him playing in this system is nothing short of criminal. To take the best striker this club has had since The King Of Kings and to make him a shadow of the player he was last season … that’s almost impressive and as much as anything else it is responsible for this disastrous downturn in form.

Additionally, if we lose another goal to a set-piece in the next few weeks then coaching team heads should roll all the way down London Road. I was not surprised in the least on Saturday to concede a goal to a dead-ball situation, it is horrifying how predictable it is and disgraceful that the coaches cannot sort this out. It is equally disgraceful that we cannot capitalise on them. Twenty corner kicks at the weekend, every single one of them wasted.

I wrote a piece last week on alternative playing systems we could be using; with our problems out wide and the utter futility of a tactic based around crossing the ball into a packed penalty area we need to be more direct and play through the middle.

We could utilise a second ball-winner, Iwata if he’s fit, or Bernardo if he’s not, and play a 4-3-1-2 with the full-backs doubling up as attackers. Or we could go to Martin O’Neill’s 3-5-2 with the attacking full backs … when your team is predictable a tactical change has to be in the thinking and if it’s not then the manager is not doing his job.

And in case it hasn’t dawned on Rodgers, the doubts about him have resurfaced big time and he is going to run out of friends and allies fast if this slump continues and he continues to sound like a guy who doesn’t have options or at least can’t think of any.

His after match comments shocked me, and made me think about some of the stuff he’s said over the last few months, most notably his constant refrain that this team needs “winners” as though the core of this squad had won nothing before he arrived in the summer.

It’s hugely disrespectful to his players and it must have pissed some of them off. If he loses the dressing room he’s finished and so is our season.

It should be clear that I’m also sick and tired of his whingeing about the hand he’s been dealt. It’s atrocious, it’s true, most of the summer signings are not going to make it and should never have been signed, but he made his own bed when he accepted that going in and if he’s now grabbed that situation by the balls, it isn’t before time.

The people above him will fire him if he doesn’t start getting results.

That’s just the fact of it. Some of them never wanted him in the first place, and would happily put the noose around his neck.

That he constantly bitches about the transfer strategy and refuses to play the players who were signed is very easy to understand and I sympathise … but if they wanted to suggest that he’s not performing the role he was brought in for, which includes developing these guys, who could argue with that? That’s part of his job, and the other part is getting results. If he’s not doing either then he’s got no place to hide.

So, he’s got this week, and he better use it productively and well. If not, this is going to swell into a genuine crisis and he’s going to give this board a decision to make and I don’t want them having to do that because I don’t trust them to get the answer right.

To be blunt, their judgement has proved to be so suspect in the last 18 months that when it comes to strategic decision making, I don’t trust them at all.

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  • Andrew says:

    Big issue is the board and “model” – if BR left tomorrow the “model” stays.
    We would hire a yes man coach and the “model” stays – even if we hired a proven experienced coach (wait a minute?) the “model” stays – see the problem……..?

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