Michael Stewart highlights Celtic blunder last night; perplexed by Lennon decision

By David Walton

February 22, 2021

Michael Stewart couldn’t believe the major Celtic tactical blunder last night as Neil Lennon again changed formation.

Over the course of December and even in recent weeks, Lennon has gone with a diamond midfield and a two-striker pairing up top. This has led to Celtic controlling almost every game they play with it – including a dominant display at Ibrox back in January

However, last night, Lennon reverted back to playing one up top with Ryan Christie playing off of Odsonne Edouard. In addition to that, the diamond appeared to be dropped also as Celtic failed to get into any rhythm in Dingwall.

Stewart analysed the game on Sportscene last night, and he was left baffled by both Celtic’s system to begin with as well as how long it took for us to change things.

“Looking back over those last five wins, they’ve played that diamond midfield, but they’ve played two up top apart from one game against St Johnstone where they played Christie off of Edouard. And that’s the one game they struggled to break the opponent down.

“The other games they’ve had two up top, they’ve really gone and threatened opponents. And they’ve scored early. In all those games they’ve scored within the first half-hour. Changes the dynamic of the game.

“Now I’m surprised it took until about 70 minutes for Neil Lennon to change the game. To put Leigh Griffiths on. To do something to change the dynamic, because Ross County were in their shape, comfortable, and knew what they were doing. They had to do something to disrupt that, and it took them too long to recognise it.”

Michael Stewart analyses spot on; Celtic left it too late as Lennon failed to identify weakness

It was evident after about 20-25 minutes that the system wasn’t working in truth. When it became clear that Ross Laidlaw’s goal was in no danger, that was the time to tweak.

There seems to be a bit of an unwritten rule in football that substitutions can only be made from half-time onwards. But a truly ruthless manager would be making his game-changing decisions as and when he sees the danger. Surely Lennon knew early on another forward was needed?

When you look at our bench it was a flat-out disgrace. Albian Ajeti, Patryk Klimala, and Leigh Griffiths were planted firmly on it. It took Lennon 67 minutes to take Tom Rogic off for Griffiths. Klimala and Ajeti stayed on the bench.

Leigh Griffiths came on for Celtic but it was too little too late (Photo by Paul Campbell/Getty Images)

But why Lennon changed the system and tossed out the diamond once again remains a mystery. Why was Ismaila Soro dropped for Scott Brown? Ismaila didn’t even get on the pitch either despite the big influence he has on Celtic’s high pressing game.

It was clear County were never going to be pressing us high. They don’t have either the pace nor the quality to do so. Why we felt we needed Brown in there instead of Soro then was baffling. But it’s been a season of baffling decisions from the manager.

Taking too long to make changes has been a constant in Lennon’s Celtic managerial career. Last night was no difference as he provided rotation for the sake of rotation.

In other news, Pat Bonner has clearly had enough with how Celtic are operating after last night.