Pundit Pat Bonner has questioned Neil Lennon’s decision to use Ryan Christie in a wider attacking midfield role rather than play him as a ‘number 10’, speaking to BBC Scotland (22/09 live match page 14:35 & 14:48).
Lennon utilised a rather unusual midfield set-up against Kilmarnock in Sunday’s 3-1 win, naming both Olivier Ntcham and Christie, as well as Callum McGregor and Scott Brown in his starting eleven.
It meant that Christie was naturally deployed outside of his usual pocket behind Odsonne Edouard, taking some of his influence away from the game.
As we’ve seen this season his busy style and attacking ambition can really test teams through the middle.
Ultimately his quality shone through and he managed to score, but Bonner believes his best position is when played centrally.
As quoted by BBC Scotland (22/09 live match page 14:35), he said: “There’s a debate among Celtic fans as to where Ryan Christie’s best position is. Personally, I think he is better in that No.10 role in behind Odsonne Edouard rather than playing out on the wing.”
Bonner would also go on to praise Forrest for his performance, with the winger primarily playing on the left flank.
The former Hoops goalkeeper said: “James Forrest has been very, very good. He’s moved over to his natural right-hand side now but that certainly doesn’t stop him. In fact it may make him stronger.”
Something to change moving forward?
In big do-or-die matches, such as a trip to Ibrox or in Europe, there’s no doubt that both Forrest and Christie should be played in their best positions, even if it means keeping Ntcham out of the side.
However, if Lennon can find a way to accommodate all of them in a winning Scottish Premiership performance then it’s a combination that should continue to be explored.
With Tom Rogic also available, alongside wingers such as Mohamed Elyounoussi and Marian Shved, Lennon probably recognises that our attacking midfield options are shockingly good.
With rotation likely needed at critical moments of the season and with little notice, we need all of these players at their peak.
Giving everyone the minutes they need to keep them sharp and motivated is difficult squad-management wise.
On this occasion the Hoops boss got it spot on.