With James Forrest rejecting a fresh new long-term deal at Celtic, the winger may feel he may not have a future at the club given the current crop of attacking midfielders.
Celtic have an array of talent for those three positions, but so far, Ronny Deila and co have yet to select a three which are consistent and fluent this season. So who are the contenders? And what is the best fit for the team?
On Saturday, the usual three of Gary Mackay-Steven, Stefan Johansen and Stuart Armstrong laboured their way through the match, with only slight glimpses of creativity on show. But, when Scott Allan, Ryan Christie and Patrick Roberts all came on, the three had an understating that is missing with the current starting trio.
Added to this group are James Forrest, Callum McGregor, Tom Rogic & Kris Commons. There’s no wonder Deila has a dilemma. Oh, and we can’t forget Derk Boerrigter! On a serious note, with that exception, every player on their given day can pose a real threat to any side, but the key for Celtic is to find a trio that fits this 4-2-3-1 system in both defence and attack, while also playing consistently.
By now, I think we all know that the much favoured 4-4-2 formation amongst fans, is well and truly being thrown out of the window and instead being replaced by a more continental style, suited for both Europe and domestic competition. But there are two types of 4-2-3-1 styles and so far in Deila’s tenure he has experimented with both.
The first style is where there are three creative midfielders who interchange and the width is created by both full backs, in this case being Kieran Tierney and Mikael Lustig. If Deila believes that this is the best way of playing the system, then the best three to pick are Allan, Rogic and Armstrong. Alternatively, Christie can play in that three but if Deila is to choose this variation then the aforementioned are the best options for that type of style.
However, if Deila elects to play with natural wingers for width and just the one creative focal point then the ideal three would be Roberts, Commons and Mackay-Steven. Again people could argue that the likes of Forrest or Johansen can play in that system, but given their form this season, it is very unlikely.
Now, of course, Deila has played with Mackay-Steven, Johansen and Armstrong in the past few weeks and this has been the main reason why the team are disjointed at times when they are attacking. The problem Deila has is that he is getting the defensive side right, but there’s no flair or creativity in the current 4-2-3-1 he wants to play. If Deila was to continue to play the three mentioned above or something similar to that (one winger and two creative 10’s) then Celtic will come unstuck against opponents in the future.
Though, if he does find a combination that works, then Celtic will look much more fluent when they attack as we saw briefly on Saturday, and that’ll only help Leigh Griffiths up top, who has already scored 32 goals this season.
I’ve had my say on who I think it should be, so who do you think should occupy in those three attacking spots?