With the international break underway, now is the best time to reflect on what has been a turbulent few weeks for everyone involved at Celtic.
The Hoops may have extended their lead at the top of the table to four points but it doesn’t reflect the disjointed performances of late. Saturday was just one of those days where Celtic dominated possession but couldn’t unlock the Kilmarnock door.
With time ticking, a rocket from Tom Rogic gave Celtic a much needed three points. In essence, it was good to see a Celtic side under Ronny Deila grind out a victory, but where has that been this season?
This season there have been times where the team has crumbled or hidden away from pressure, allowing teams to come back into matches but Saturday was different. I think many Celtic fans feel frustrated that at times when the side don’t play well, they lose heart and don’t have the inner self-belief that they will get a result.
Aside from this, one key change has been introduced in the past three matches. The formation. The ever present 4-2-3-1 has been shifted to a 4-3-3. An interesting switch but one which is dividing fans. You can see in the last few weeks that the 4-3-3 set up is good for counter attacking football but not for slow build play. In the majority of league matches, Celtic will have a lot of possession whereas in Europe or in semi-finals and finals, the set up is perfect given the occasions.
Now alongside this, for a 4-3-3 formation you need wingers who are willing to take on an opponent and ideally be a quick & direct. The issue being is that at the moment is that we have three natural wingers. One who is inconsistent but playing better of late, one who is on loan for us for 18-months and the other who doesn’t want to be here. Gary Mackay-Steven, Patrick Roberts and James Forrest are the only players who can play in those positions effectively.
Then you also have the headache of putting in three midfielders, some of which don’t have any intentions or tracking back. Those being the likes of Tom Rogic, Kris Commons, Ryan Christie and Scott Allan. It’s a tough one to call but I think looking at Celtic’s squad maybe it’s best if Deila reverts back to the 4-2-3-1 system rather than the 4-3-3. Yes, some fans may favour it less but it does allow certain players to fully maximise their potential.
The formation also allows a creative focal point and has stability in the two holding positions but it could also be time to switch it altogether and maybe look at a 3-5-2 or a diamond. Something different, that offers a more fluid and attacking style of football because if Celtic continue to play slower and with less intensity then they will be punished. Maybe Deila is yet to be convinced at trying a more aggressive & attacking style, but if he is more brave and tries something new, then maybe it may just click for Celtic when it matters most.