"Excellent"; Gary Caldwell seemed to love Celtic tactics at Ibrox

By David Walton

January 4, 2021

Former Celtic defender Gary Caldwell has been full of praise for the club’s approach to Saturday’s game at Ibrox.

For many, the 1-0 loss in Govan represented the final nail in our 10-in-a-row coffin. For those who are a touch more optimistic, the performance gave us plenty of reasons to feel positive about the direction of the team.

What can’t be denied, however, is how Celtic bossed proceedings at the home of their rivals. With their new diamond set-up and a more aggressive approach to tackling the Ibrox flair players, Celtic had Rangers on the ropes. It was our best performance in a derby since September 2019.

And in fairness to Caldwell, he was happy to acknowledge that when speaking to Sky Sports about the game. Encouraging Celtic not to lose hope in the title race, the former Hoops centre-back said the following:

“I thought they were excellent in the game. I thought their tactical set-up – playing a diamond in midfield – worked really well. It really frustrated Rangers who normally control the middle of the pitch. They didn’t manage to do that.

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“The full-backs applied real pressure to Tavernier and Barisic, who normally are players who control a lot of the game for Rangers as well. So int erms of how they played the game – up until the sending off – they were really good.

“They just didn’t manage to score because Allan McGregor was in inspired form. I still think in football you can never count a team out who’s chasing the league.”

Celtic will take solace from performance; but points are all that matter now

Celtic are quite right to take something from Ibrox. As much as we’re all fixated with 10-in-a-row, and quite rightly, life will exist beyond it. We saw enough there to suggest we have something to turn the tide against Rangers, even if it doesn’t happen this season.

Something to suggest that we may have a formula for this fixture. At the very least, Steven Gerrard will now be the one looking to find a way to combat our tactics. That is of course if Neil Lennon persists with the same diamond formula that’s working so well.

Not many Celtic fans will want to entertain losing the 10 just yet. If we do, however, it’s essential that this is a one-off. Celtic must re-establish their dominance in their coming years if they can’t seal the deal this season. Continued Champions League money for Rangers does us no favours.

Odsonne Edouard tries to break through for Celtic at Ibrox (Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group via Getty Images)

However, we’re not giving up on anything yet. Should Celtic win the final two derby matches it would take the gap back down to four points (assuming we win our games in hand). It’s hardly inconceivable that Rangers drop that over the coming games.

Yes, there are question marks over whether we can win all 19 of our remaining fixtures. I get that. But we’ve gone on winning runs of that ilk before. Lennon managed a 17-game winning run back in 2012 during his first stint as manager. He has this kind of run in him. Sure it’ll be difficult, but what other option do we have?

So it’s vital we take the positives from Ibrox. But from here on in, only victories will ensure the title remains at Parkhead, not plaudits.

In other news, Celtic’s social media silence tells you all you need to know about our Dubai trip.