Callum McGregor explains new inverted full-back tactic being deployed at Celtic
Callum McGregor has moved to give a detailed response to how the inverted full-back system works at Celtic.
Ever since Ange Postecoglou’s arrival at the club over the summer, the Hoops have used their fullbacks in a more central position than they’re used to. It’s seen the likes of Anthony Ralston and Josip Juranovic have to modify their game as they get used to the manager’s system.
It’s certainly had its pros and cons in the early stages of the season. Some will believe Celtic don’t currently have the players for the system to work efficiently. But there have been more promising signs that things are improving.
At a fan media conference in which 67HailHail attended, Callum was asked by the Cynic about the intriguing new tactic. And it’s fair to say he gave a brilliant response as he painted a clearer picture on it:
“It’s been a thing that the gaffer’s tried to implement here. I think it’s worked reasonably well. We’re getting better at it all the time. You can start to see one coming in and one staying out giving us a little bit of width.
“So all it does is slide you across a little bit and gives you the two controlling players to build up and try to outnumber the opposition. So it’s just important that whatever fullback comes in, you then just balance it off on the side, and then it’s about quick combinations and trying to break through the press.
“And then on transition it’s just important first and foremost we control the middle of the pitch, force them wide, and then everyone recovers back centrally and we defend from there.”
Celtic still yet to find perfection with inverted fullback tactic
It’s clearly going to take some time for Postecoglou to integrate this tactic into his Celtic players. After all, it’s not something any of them will be used to.
It’s also important to remember that it doesn’t only affect the right-back and left-back positions either. It’s going to have an impact on how players like McGregor operate in the central area. With inverted fullbacks, the centre becomes a lot more crowded and will force the likes of Callum to operate in a different way.
McGregor doesn’t sugarcoat it either. He isn’t pretending everything has been rosy here. Instead, he only describes it as having gone “reasonable well” so far. It’s clear the Hoops captain knows there’s work to be done himself.
Of course, whether we do have the personnel for it remains to be seen in the long term. It doesn’t appear to suit Ralston in particular at times, who can often be caught out of position far too easily. He’s managed to get in the spotlight for some brilliant recovery challenges in recent weeks, but his positioning is still something that needs working on.
Juranovic appears comfortable enough coming into a central area from the wide positions. But you do wonder whether his affect on the game is limited when played out of position.
Tonight will be a big test of it at Easter Road. If there are chinks in the armour, we know Hibs will likely exploit them. Tonight requires total 100% sharpness and nothing less.