Neil Lennon has hit back at suggestions that Celtic’s formation was partly to blame for the Europa League defeat to Copenhagen.
Three days on from the loss and it’s still raw for Celtic supporters. Copenhagen waltzed out of Parkhead with a comfortable 3-1 win despite Lennon’s side controlling much of the first half.
There was always going to be a post-mortem to the game, and the formation has certainly come under some criticism. Lennon switched things back to a back four for Copenhagen’s visit – ditching the 3-5-2 system that has served the club so well domestically.
But speaking in the Scottish Sun, the Hoops boss dismissed any notion that the formation had a part to play in our European failure.
“I don’t know how you can blame the formation for individual errors. We were in total control of the game.
“The manner of the first goal gave a stodgy opposition, who defended heroically at times and whose keeper made some good saves, some oxygen.
“We got back into the game deservedly, then 83 seconds later we’d conceded another goal. It’s been a hard one to take. I didn’t think we deserved to lose against Copenhagen. If you’re going to make mistakes like we did then you’re going to get punished.
Lennon right to an extent
You can totally see Neil’s point of view here. The reason we’re out isn’t primarily down to the formation. It’s because of clear individual errors more than anything.
We’re out because Jozo Simunovic made a short back-pass that was capitalised on. We’re out because Kristoffer Ajer was caught out of position at a Copenhagen turnover. And, finally – we’re out because not one of three defenders halted Dame N’Doye from barging his way through them.
However, that’s not to say that a 3-5-2 wouldn’t have created more chances over the course of the 90 minutes. Copenhagen weren’t particularly quick, but they had a solid back-line on the night. Odsonne Edouard needed a partner to help break it down, which Leigh Griffiths nearly did then he came on.
It’s not the main reason for us bowing out of Europe. But it would’ve given us a better chance of progression had we simply taken the game to Copenhagen with our strongest formation.
Regardless, it’s over now and there can be no looking back. It’s worrying that we exited the Champions League and Europa League at Parkhead vs two sides who clearly have inferior quality. Yet it’s all about learning and going again.