John Hartson still questioning big Brendan Rodgers decision at Celtic

By David Walton

March 26, 2019

Celtic great John Hartson has touched on the left-back blunder Brendan Rodgers made last December.

One hour before the contest between Celtic and Rangers at Ibrox, many would’ve been surprised to see Callum McGregor starting as a makeshift left-back.

Everybody knows McGregor’s ability to influence a game from the midfield. He has energy, accuracy in his varied passing range, and a keen eye for goal. He’s already netted on three occasions against Rangers in the past too, so he was never going to be fazed by the fixture.

Callum McGregor’s attacking influence was minimised at Ibrox (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

But the decision cost Celtic any sort of midfield flair that should’ve been there. It’s a decision that still mystifies Hartson, and he touched on it when running through the key players for Sunday in the Evening Times.

“Having Kieran Tierney back is key. Not only is he one of our best players and pivotal to what so much of the team does, it will also mean Callum McGregor starting in midfield and not at left-back, a decision which doesn’t make any more sense months later.

“Scott Brown will be reminding his team what so-and-so was saying after the game, what was written in the newspapers or said on television.”

A decision which should never be replicated

It doesn’t matter how bad things get, McGregor can’t shift from the midfield. He’s far too influential alongside Scott Brown, and has the ability to grab a game on his own.

The problem for the match in December was that Kieran Tierney was injured. Yet, Rodgers still had Emilio Izaguirre and Jonny Hayes available to him. Either of those would’ve allowed McGregor to operate as normal.

Brendan Rodgers got it badly wrong at Ibrox back in December (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Some may have forgotten the clash, but McGregor actually showed our only piece of initiative at Ibrox. He waltzed through the Rangers defence to collect a Ryan Christie pass before slotting under Allan McGregor with ease. Unfortunately, the offside flag ruled it out, but it showed the attacking influence McGregor can have.

Lennon will likely know what his team is for Sunday. It’ll surely have McGregor in it alongside Brown. Both of them will be eager to renew their succesful partnership against Rangers.

It’s a combination the Ibrox side haven’t been able to deal with for the last several years. If the duo are on form, that will continue to be the case too.