Celtic face Aberdeen on Saturday, a side who nearly left Paradise with a point less than two weeks ago.
With that near miss in mind, Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes is imploring his players to attack a glaring Celtic weakness: set pieces.
Time and again in 20-21, Celtic have been undone by shambolic defending from dead ball situations. Neil Lennon’s last match as Bhoys boss was evidence of this. In fact, Ross County boss John Hughes identified Celtic’s achilles heel pre-match, and managed to exploit it to perfection.
Having learned the lesson of their last match at Celtic Park, as well as Ross County’s successes, McInnes is acutely aware that this is an area to exploit. In an interview shared by BT, McInnes said:
“We had umpteen crosses and numerous set-plays going in, and we never took full advantage of it.
“More from our point of view, in terms of the size in the team, and that we have got players like McGinn, who can produce that delivery.
“Saturday showed the importance of that, a good set-piece goal that every team needs to carry a threat from. Saturday will be no different from any other game that we try to carry a threat from open play and set-plays.”
Kennedy’s first job will have been to fix prominent Celtic problem
Surely, amongst the first tasks in John Kennedy’s to-do list will have been fixing this issue. Perhaps, Stephen McManus’ defensive experience may help in this regard. Either way, the odd mix of zonal and man-marking just hasn’t worked for Celtic this season.
There’s little to suggest this area wasn’t a failure of Kennedy’s. We’re unclear as to who was actually coaching this part of the game at Lennoxtown. Judging by how out-of-position Diego Laxalt was against Ross County [SPFL], it’s possible that nobody was running drills to defend set-pieces.
While Rangers have obviously impressed this season, it’s easy to feel that the title race may have been far closer if Celtic could’ve cut out this fundamental issue. It’s bad enough that it happens at all, but the fact that other managers are pointing it out pre-game is absolutely ridiculous.
It shows just how far standards have fallen under Neil Lennon. In his short-term spell as Celtic boss, John Kennedy has a lot of work to do.