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The Celtic Boss Has Been Changing This Team Even As His Critics Were Demanding It.

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Was that the moment? That’s the question, isn’t it? Right now it seems to me that we are all, every single one of us, waiting for the moment. The game that flips this season on its head, the one that puts us back on track and back on form. The one that makes all the stresses and concerns of recent months fade into the background. The one where we get what the politicos call The Big Mo. Momentum. That sense of a machine starting to roll.

I thought we were there, or at least on the brink of it, as the window opened and the football went on a hiatus which came at the worst possible time for us. We had just beaten the Ibrox club and with that result re-asserted our authority. I knew it would take this team time to get back up to speed. The question was always how long it would take and whether, when we did, that our best under Rodgers would be good enough. Today was more like it … but is it definitive?

Well, let’s start with the obvious. The boss changed his tactics and in the end gave them more than they could handle. A tactical change is not like it’s often portrayed in fiction. It never makes a difference instantly.

Any shift in the dispersal of forces means that people have to organise in a different way, and take new positions and assume new shapes and adopt a different mentality. You cannot just expect people to pick that up. The smallest change has to be drilled into a team. Recall the players talking about Brendan’s finest hour, at Ibrox, where we won the game with ten men; the players worked on that possible development for weeks before it so that when the moment came every single person knew exactly what to do when it did.

The second we brought on Edouard – and I remember it like it was yesterday; I watched that in excited disbelief – you saw how the whole team re-organised to fit that change. That wasn’t done on the fly. It was thought out and planned … that’s why it worked.

Think about It like this; in a synchronised routine you know roughly where everyone around you is supposed to be in any given scenario. Change even one element of that and suddenly everything works in a different way. People aren’t where you expect them to be, or when you expect them to be there … it takes time for anyone to adapt to that, and longer for a team. So you work on it in training, you practice those routines relentlessly … and eventually it’s second nature.

So two up front is not a new idea. We’ve actually watched the boss put that into practice over the last few weeks and the last few games, and that culminated today where we played it for the full 90 minutes. When we next take the field with that system the boss will expect everyone to be on point and to know exactly what they have to do.

We saw that today, or something like that. Those tactical shifts to two up front don’t now look like the random chasing of games but of something thought out and planned in advance. Look at Kyogo today. How many times have we him seen in the withdrawn role this season? And it made no sense at all, did it? But put Idah up front, sacrifice a midfielder, play him as a ten … and doesn’t it look like something after all? Why hasn’t it made sense up until now? The presence of Idah, the target man, who could link all the pieces together and make it work.

So maybe, just maybe., this is it. Maybe this is where the Rodgers plan starts to make a bit more sense, with the missing piece – and it usually only is a missing piece, like any complicated puzzle where nothing seems to fit until you fit that central point where it all starts to come together – now in place. Idah might not be the calibre we were hoping for, or that the boss himself was hoping for, but perhaps he doesn’t have to tick all the boxes … just that handful of them (pace and power and whatever else) that makes the whole system work.

The evidence is circumstantial, not non-existent. We are entering a new phase of this team, that is for sure, but we grew into the game today and I expect us to keep evolving down this same road. Kyogo gave us his best performance in a while, the wide players got into good positions and the whole operation seems that much more compact and composed.

So is it a turning point? Maybe. That’s what tantalises us. The question. The maybe. But we’re not where we were, we’re somewhere better for sure. The machine isn’t firing yet on all cylinders but a number of key questions about the manager and his tactics have been answered; all the time we’ve been wondering whether he was going to change the system … and that was in progress right in front of our eyes. Not an elite manager though, eah?

Yeah, I think those of us who have defended the boss are entitled to be happy. That was a good win today. It may prove more significant that just a place in the next round of the cup.

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  • Jas says:

    If only Maeda could deliver a pass or cross like he finished that goal

    • Fred says:

      Hold on here, Maeda is (technically) the worst footballer I have seen in my life. he cannot pass, his pace and direction on passes is dreadful. if he could not run, he would not be a footballer.

      HH

    • Michael M says:

      If Maeda could deliver a cross he’d be playing for Bayern or Madrid.

      Still wouldn’t swap him for anything though, as his absence during the Asian Cup showed.

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    I’m just glad of the win at what was a banana skin match…

    And a home draw v Livvy in the next round ain’t too shabby either !

  • Adam Thomas says:

    I thought we were awful tbh

  • Popepo says:

    Wasn’t two up front Kyogo played in the hole something that.he done the last few times he came on. They tried it with him and.Oh but it nver workes

  • goodghuy says:

    I commented on one of your pieces last week james, that I would play both kyogo and Idah, and I thought it would have made a difference, and it did today. That was a lot better today, kyogo is very good in that hole role. I feel a lot better watching that today, than I have for weeks. I pray that it takes us to the title, come on the hoops HH

  • Bunter says:

    Agree James. Good victory for Brendan. And I thought Joe Hart played well along with Welsh at the back. But Tony Ralston was my pick out today. Heart and passion in a Celtic top. It’s starting to come together again for us.

    • Fred says:

      Apologies for being negative here (again) but I always call it how I see it guys.

      Is it not amazing that everytime any fan talks about Tony Ralston, the words heart, committment, desire, passion etc etc are always in the sentence !!

      Hows about he does things great and worthy of a place in my clubs first team !!

      Guy is bang average…at best, but still miles better than Bernabei over the other side.

      No wonder we struggle ffs, the amount of average players in our squad is unreal.

      HH

  • Michael McCartney says:

    Feeling a good bit better, been a good day, the team looked a good bit more organised and motivated and the draw was kind to us. You can see why St Mirren are 4th in the league, they throw in some terrific balls from corners and free kicks, got to give credit to Hart and the two centre backs they dealt with it well. You can see we’ve been working on defending set pieces.
    Another free week towards fitness for our injured players and to doing more drills on the training field.
    One draw and two victories in 3 hard away games isn’t too bad, in my opinion we should have won the game at Aberdeen on the 1st half scoring chances alone, maybe lucky against Hibs and definitely deserved to win today.
    As the song goes “walk on walk on with hope in your heart” tonight there’s a bit more hope, but still a lot of work to be done.
    Hopefully any protests against the board will be in the form of banners, no booing or chanting which whether you mean it or not, it does affect the team on the park.

  • MartinKennea says:

    Brendan’s the man . Hail Hail

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Was always goin tae be a tough tie and we at least played better than the hibs game. Tho imo, still too much of this fannyin about, when we should be pushin the game. We were 2 up and in the last 15-20 mins, shouldve been lookin tae kill it off. Instead we gave St M far too much of the ball, as well as lumpin it anywherel and one goal back for them couldve changed the complexion. Glad tae say it never happened and we got the deserved win. A wins good enough, tho would like tae see some composure installed in there and impact in the final 3rd.

  • Brattbakk says:

    That was a step in the right direction today. St Mirren deserve credit for having a go and I thought they played well. We defended well and got goals at crucial times, the system did work and the subs added something. Not 100% convinced but no complaints today.

  • Scouse bhoy says:

    I thoght the midfield were getting over run at times in the first half just my opinion miby im getting too nervous

  • Gerry says:

    Today was a great win. It was always going to be a tough tie, against an in form St Mirren. However, despite their physicality, a very tricky surface ( possibly worse than Celtic Park at present,) and their delivery of decent set pieces, I have to commend our defence. Our much maligned gk, was excellent, as were Ralston, Welsh, Scales & Berbabei. Despite some nervy moments, they stood up well and kept the clean sheet. We got the goals at the right times and negotiated a tough hurdle, to get through to the next round.
    I thought BR’s post match interview, exuded enough confidence to suggest he knows we’ll get better. A lot of tough games ahead, but I’ve never veered from the similar belief that we will improve and win this title! Maybe not the unanimous opinion amongst our fanbase, but it’s all about keeping the faith !

  • Iljas Baker says:

    I thought StM got too many chances as our defense was porous. You can only get away with this so often. Is that the price of two up front or can we have a strong defense and TUF?

  • SSMPM says:

    3, 5, 1, 1 is my favoured personnel but we need more quality signings for that

  • Jimmy Quinn says:

    To be honest I thought We were awful. Midfield particularly extremely poor only the captain played magnificent.

    This nonsense of Kyogo playing deep is insane
    This big carthorse up front will never do
    He’s well off the pace.

    As for winger No 9. Oh dear

  • SSMPM says:

    A good win, well earned, with a 1st team riddled with injuries. Never be enough for some in our support though.
    They all butter performances on margarine money. The blame lies solely at the doors of the committee and board rooms in Paradise. Format was better and if we had strong centre backs I have us play 3-5-1-1. Taylor is more suited to that system as he’s more of a wing back than an out and out full back. Good to see Ralston back and playing that role. HH

    • Fred says:

      The support are fed up seeing guys nowhere near good enough in our first team squad !!

      With injuries, then these guys (who are not good enough) are thrown in to the first team, and in all honesty, they are bang average IMO.

      Big OH…absolute rotten, not ready nor good enough for us, yet Aberdeen & Hearts have a guy better than him…sorry, clearly better than him. yet we “supposedly” cannot prize any of them away !! JOKE.

      Bernabei…please don’t get me started !!

      HH

  • JimBhoy says:

    Hi James, I read earlier, Gavin Berry of the feckless Record interviewing the rangers money man (ex-SFA man David Taylor’s son no less) on how they will save jillions on players strategy blah!! .
    I like to read of club finance policy to cut their playing staff costs to see what ingenious schemes are in play, like some SPFL clubs limiting large away fans from entering their ground saving, well costing them and local businesses tens of millions per year.

    rangers want to wipe out £10m on the playing front, peaked my interest as it must be costing as much with the latest 3 loanees (2 to purchase) with half guaranteed on one player alone.

    So my summary of the article is, well it must be all a big Ludge secret as there was nothing in the article at all laying out any strategy or means to achieve their >£10m saving.

    Sounds like they will need to flog some more ACDC jerseys.

    • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

      Two or three things here JimBhoy…

      1) – If it’s in The feckless Record (good description) it’s liable to be lies…

      2) – And lies it indeed is as ‘Rangers’ cannot want to wipe out £10 million on the playing front as ‘Rangers’ died in (c.2012)…

      3) – I hope to goodness that as a Celtic supporter you chanced reading it off a shop paper stand or read it on a Celtic Forum and never contributed towards it either by way of purchase or online browsing as that behaviour from Celtic supporters is keeping their very slow heartbeat ticking !

  • Stephen McDowell says:

    We won and thats all that matters, ‘not sure if the system was as effective as you say but at least it was something new and took the predictability out of it, i thought they were the better side for the first thirty minutes but as you correctly pointed out the defence handled all that was thrown their way, are you a little worried that our best players on the day were Hart and the back four? two of whom are not first picks? apart from Mc Gregor our more flair players didn’t exactly light the place up { I realise the pitch had an impact } but I believe the level needs to go up considerably if we are going to win league or cup, I think we’ll do it but theres work to be done.

    • Woodyiom says:

      THREE of the back four are not first picks (Ralston, Welsh and Bernabei) and tbh at the start of the season no-one would have seen Scales as a first choice either – imagine Rangers* back four with TavPen, Goldson and Barisic – they would be concedeing two goals a game with their replacements. I think the reason Hart and the back four were our better players is all due to the pitch – we totally struggled to pass on it and even in a lot of cases to stay on our feet – St Mirren’s players are used to it and were able to play their direct game. The other issue we had (and have had all season long) is a total lack of physicality other than at CB – all three midfielders were brushed off the ball numerous times as was Bernabei, both wingers and Kyogo although he did try hard. We badly need two or three guys who can play the football Brendan wants but also win 50:50 tackles and win shoulder to shoulder challenges. Until we acquire power/physical strength in the team we will always struggle on crap pitches against physical teams.

  • Fred says:

    Sorry, but you are at the totally wrong end of the pitch with this post !!

    With Bernabei at LB, and Ralston at RB, we are, IMO, absolutely rotten !!

    Bernabei should never pull on a Celtic top again, the guy is dreadful.

    HH

  • DEREK BAILEY says:

    Bang on analytics. We DO have an elite manager and you have been backing as I and many friends have. The January transfer was a joke but Brendan has brought in what he could, HIS team, not the one fostered on him. Signing extended contracts was his doing I believe. As important as new targets. Your analytics are always true to the reality. We ground out results with half a team, and change in tactics not to mention psychology of the gutter press. The one thing I will say, is the minority of called Celtic support should hang head shame re Abada who is a young lad and has to endure the vile from muppets who have no idea of geo politics. Celtic are looking good with stacks to come.

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