McGregor Showed Celtic Again What They Are Missing In Keeping Him In A Defensive Role.

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Our failure to find a rough, tough, physical player to reliably play in the enforcer, defensive midfield role has cost us. We all know this. It’s one of the positions we thought would be filled in the summer, and when it wasn’t we could all see issues in Europe.

One of the worst things about our failure in this area is that it continues to leave Callum McGregor sitting deep when he is a much better, and more formidable, footballer when he is playing further up the pitch.

That we were surprised at his scoring the goal which got us back into it yesterday is telling; a couple of years back we’d have expected that.

McGregor was one of our most attacking players some years back, and our potency is eroded with every game he sits in the defensive role. Don’t get me wrong, he is brilliant there. I don’t think he’s quite at the level of Brown, but he is definitely a fine footballer in that position.

But going forward he’s so, so much better and creative.

His goal was typical McGregor. He saw the opportunity and instinct kicked in. It was a brilliant strike and dragged us back into the game.

I know a lot of people are concerned about the prospect of us losing one of our best goalscoring midfield players in Turnbull, but I heard the same arguments when Armstrong was going and McGregor filled that hole. But without a player who can reliably play defensive midfield, he’s stuck there.

As long as we have Turnbull, Hatate and O’Riley this might not seem like much of an issue, but we’re ever haunted by the idea that something will befall McGregor and he’ll miss a series of games. Hatate’s injury makes us look a little stretched in midfield although Bernardo, Holm and Iwata are available to step in as backups.

But none of them is good enough to replace a player as consistent and important to the team as McGregor is, which is one of the reasons he’s the most over-used player in the squad.

For that reason alone, this is something we should have been working on way before now, and instead of grasping the nettle and investing properly in this area of the team we’ve tried to do it on the cheap … and in doing so signed a bunch of players who haven’t nearly come up to snuff and probably cost ourselves more, in the long run.

This is a priority. Maybe not for the January window.

That might wait until summer, and there are other key areas – such as up front – which are more “mission critical.” But we need this resolved, even if it’s just to give McGregor a rest … but if we can get the right player, and he excels in that role, we can restore Callum to his rightful place.

Getting forward. Making chances. Scoring goals.

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  • Fat mike says:

    While hatate is out and especially against teams that are going to park the bus I was expecting brendan to give iwata a run and either rotate mcgregor or push him up alongside oriley. Between now and the sevco game it really should be in his thinking, he was Japanese player of the year, surely he deserves the chance, hasn’t had a consistent run in the team since he got here

    • JapanCelt says:

      Agree with you 100%, mate. Iwata is one hell of a player & didn’t win the highly coveted & prestigious Japan J-1 (Our version of the SPL) ‘Player of The Year’ award before he made his move to Celtic. Get McGregor up to an attacking midfielder & he’ll create the chances for our forward – surely Brendan can see we need big Oh’s physical prescence up-front, bullying and harrying the opposition’s defenders, free up Kyogo for many more chances @ goal than he is not even get the tiniest sniff of, at present.
      Need Iwata in…He’s one hell of a player given the chance he gets at least 40 mins. game time or more during the December congested fixture list. We seriously need Tillio, Yang & the other ‘rookie’ Korean player that came to Celtic in the disastrous Summer window to be shunted out asap and you can take a few other ‘never-likely-to-make-the-grade ‘project players’shunted out, too!! Either on loan, or on loan w/ a right-to-buy clause in their respective contracts. Any option will do, as they’re all getting big salaries for doing feck-all.

  • Johnno says:

    To a degree James, I agree with yourself.
    Yet we still have to look at how this team is setup and the manner that it wants to play upon the instructions of Rodgers decision making?
    Don’t think anyone would disagree that a midfield 3 would consist of Calmac, Hatate and Oreily?
    Therefore Calmac remains the best available option out of the 3 within the role required imo?
    All 3 possibly worth in the 20M price bracket, so getting them players of equal quality, remains out of our price bracket currently?
    So is a midfield 3 really our best option available to this team in how its actually setup currently?
    I have my doubts myself, and even more so since the injury to Hatate?
    We still haven’t seen Paulo or iwata used in starting in the Calmac role, which I find quite strange currently?
    Seen on way to many occasions now, where the midfield 3 has been totally over run in midfield, especially within the CL?
    Really highlighted in the athletico match, which became totally embarrassing.
    Believe that using our full backs to help try and create the overloads within the midfield areas isn’t working particularly well currently either imo.
    Our full backs aren’t really renowned for there great ball playing skills, and that’s all over the pitch, and really lacking within the play of Taylor on more occasions than not, to date this season imo.
    Still don’t believe that this team is actually set up in the manner Rodgers wants, yet I no longer know what Rodgers is actually looking for either?
    So does a potential DM bring about a change in shape to accommodate such a player?
    I still think that it may be required, especially when we have plenty available to potentially go with the 3 at the back?
    Even more so, when already enough within the squad who could cover the calmac role within the SPFL, yet Rodgers very reluctant to do so?
    The first half yesterday was alarming, but has also been in the making also, especially with losing 4 points recently within games that no points should have been dropped imo?
    Balance doesn’t seem right within the team on to many occasions to date, so far this season imo.
    So blaming the summer recruitment remains a poor excuse currently, especially when the current set up of the team remains a far bigger issue imo, especially with the performances way to much on a hit and miss approach from such established serial winning players presently

  • Martin says:

    We have him (for domestic games anyway). His name is Tomoki Iwata. Why he doesn’t get the chances is anyone’s guess.

  • Chris Allen says:

    Would suggest Iwata gets given a proper opportunity to play 3-4 games as the holding midfielder with McGregor and O’Riley either side.
    As much as Turnbull and others have made a contribution, once Hatate is fit again they will drop out of the equation.
    We also need to consider 2 up top to break the defensive block which teams have now adopted to play against us as we are to predictable.
    Iwata would give us the cover to allow others to go and effect the game.

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    McGregor getting a rest ! – Well he certainly should with Scotland in the friendly games between now and Euro 2024 but you just know that Clarke will have him first on the team sheet…

    That’s fair enough for The Germany, Hungary and Switzerland games (although I’d rather him retire from international football and aiding The rancid SFA – no friends of Celtic for sure)

    McGregor will be pure fcuked come this time next year !

  • Micky Mikey says:

    That’s Iwata’s spot and going on what we’ve seen of him he should be in it already.

  • Cheezydee says:

    Oriley can play that role, but I don’t really see McGregor really being missed further forward, and is more important sitting deeper. When defenders are camped in, McGregor is that central point passing it side to side. Rarely does he have a shot or decisive pass to suggest he’d be amazing further forward. He does however take the ball deep from the defence under any amount of pressure (although I think he’s guilty of squashing in on the defence too much and not really giving better angles and out balls).

    The huddle breakdown suggest that McGregor is also on the decline

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