Neil Lennon’s formation changes since the winter break have been a real positive, but it could be a real negative for defender Moritz Bauer.
You can’t moan about Celtic’s results since the winter break. Five wins out of five with 15 goals scored. It reads incredibly well, and the side effect of Rangers dropping five points is another huge boost for us.
However, with Celtic often going with three at the back and two forwards, there’s just no place for Moritz anywhere near the first-team.
Bauer is, at his core, a right-back. But is he a wing-back? Certainly not. He doesn’t have the attacking attributes to be effective in that role. His second-half outing at St Johnstone last Wednesday night proved it, as he constantly gave the ball away and never looked to get on the overlap and make something happen.
The problem Bauer now has with the wing-back position coming into effect is that he’s now also up against James Forrest too. Forrest is certainly more effective tracking back than Bauer is going forward, even if the former isn’t in great form himself.
Too many players ahead of Bauer
And as for whether he can play on the right side of a back three? Maybe, but he’s nowhere near at the front of the pecking order. Bauer has Hatem Abd Elhamed, Jeremie Frimpong, Jozo Simunovic, Nir Bitton, and now possibly Stephen Welsh ahead of him as players who can play in that position.
Meanwhile, Lennon will never drop Forrest for Bauer, and he would be spot on not to do so. If Forrest ever is dropped, Frimpong will likely get pushed into the wing-back position too.
Bauer, of course, is on loan from Stoke City. The Austrian international, who’s played six times for his country (Transfermarkt), won’t be making the impact a loan player should.
Yes, you can point to the fact that he’s gotten minutes in each of our last three matches. That kind of run suggests he’s very much part of Lennon’s plans. However, he hasn’t impressed in any of them. Even in his 90-minute run-out against Ross County, Lennon went back to playing with four at the back in what appeared to be a one-off.
There is, of course, a glimmer of hope for him if Lennon does switch to a back four in some of our tougher games. But even then it’ll be Frimpong and Elhamed who are playing ahead of him when fit.
For now though it looks as though three at the back is here to stay. And if it is, Bauer most certainly isn’t.