Overplaying at the back looks set to stop under Celtic manager Neil Lennon

By David Walton

February 28, 2019

Neil Lennon has strongly hinted at putting a halt on the overplaying at the back.

Lennon earned three points in his first game back in charge of the Hoops at Tynecastle. Odsonne Edouard’s 92nd-minute strike was exactly what Celtic deserved on a frustrating night in Gorgie.

Celtic played against 10 men for the majority of the second half at 1-0 ahead, but still let Hearts back into the game. And it all came from something the fans have been all too familiar with.

Scott Bain sent a needless pass in the direction of Kristoffer Ajer, despite the fact Arnaud Djoum was closing him down. Ajer then had to slide for the ball and gave away a penalty, which Oliver Bozanic scored.

Neil Lennon wants his new side to stop overplaying at the back (Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus via Getty Images)

It was meaningless in the end, as Celtic ended up taking all three points. But Lennon already seems fed up of the overplaying and seems to want to eradicate it. Speaking post-match on Sky Sports via the Daily Record, Lennon said the following:

“I think we scored a great first goal. We were a bit fortunate because we invite pressure, we overplayed it a little bit too much.

“Second-half we were a bit too passive with our passing. We just need to get the ball forward a bit quicker because we’ve got players who can hurt teams.

“We can’t be loose at the back with the ball and invite pressure we don’t need. That would be my only sort of concern.”


How long have we been waiting to hear this from our manager(s)? Celtic’s overplaying between the back four has cost us time and time again under Brendan Rodgers.

It’s effectively been one of his main trademarks. The idea is that the defence gets more confident on the ball and start to do it seamlessly. Yet, Celtic haven’t improved in that area ever since Rodgers came in the door. It’s cost us both domestically and in Europe.

Dedryck Boyata was caught on the ball last night (Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Lennon, meanwhile, sounds like he’s been wanting to say that for a while. Last night was effectively a Rodgers team. Lennon claimed that John Kennedy did all of the prep (10:46), and you have to imagine the style was barely tweaked if at all.

Supporters certainly won’t be furious if Lennon starts to modify how we move the ball out of the defence. With players like Oliver Burke and Odsonne Edouard up top, the more direct route has to be favourable.

So expect some slight changes to the style at Easter Road on Saturday. Lennon will now finally get to grips with the players at Lennoxtown, and his own style can now finally begin to be implemented.