John Hartson has given Brendan Rodgers some advice on how best to use new man Oli Burke.
The Scotland international made his Celtic debut against Airdrie at Parkhead on Saturday night. Despite putting in a tireless shift, however, the West Brom loan-star couldn’t get the goal his hard work deserved.
In truth, Burke was pretty ineffective as a lone front-man. It’s well documented that his natural position is down the right, but Hartson actually believes otherwise.
The Celtic great has watched Burke develop since he came through at Forest several years ago. Speaking in his column in the Evening Times, big John believes Burke is at his best driving forward from midfield.
“I thought that Oliver Burke struggled to impose himself in that striker’s role at the weekend and I suspect that there might be a change of plan for tomorrow night’s game.
“I saw a fair bit of Burke when he was just starting out in his career and his best position is driving forward from the middle.
“He is far more effective there rather than with his back to goal. He has pace and he has power and if you get him running at people then he will cause problems.”
More evidence he can play anywhere across the attacking three
This is yet more proof that Burke can feature anywhere across Celtic’s attacking midfield.
Playing through the middle isn’t totally uncommon to him, but you can see why he would be effective there. His running power makes him a real threat driving forward, and he has real ability to get into key areas. Despite not being used to being the lone striker, Burke was unlucky not to score – coming close on two occasions against Airdrie.
During his time at Forest, Burke often played down the flanks. It wasn’t uncommon for him to occasionally drop into the number 10 role. His Scotland appearances also saw him play through the middle, before he was dropped from the squad.
The point is, however, everyone can agree that he isn’t a striker. Big Hartson is just another of the many who don’t see Burke in that centre-forward position.
With the likes of Timothy Weah, Odsonne Edouard, and Vakoun Issouf Bayo competing for the striking spot, adding Burke to that mix feels a bit pointless. Particularly given it isn’t his strongest position.
It’ll be interesting to see just how effective the loan star is when played in his natural positions.