Ridiculous Celtic defensive calamity in Dingwall explained

By David Walton

February 23, 2021

Scott Brown has provided an insight into how Celtic look to defend set-pieces after the calamity moment in Dingwall.

Celtic left the Highlands with absolutely nothing after Jordan White managed to head home around 20 minutes from time. The striker was able to run off Diego Laxalt with ease before nipping in between Kris Ajer and captain Brown.

The goal marked the 14th strike we’ve conceded from set-pieces this season. A damning stat that proves Celtic simply aren’t learning the basics of defending.

And Brown has been fronting up to the media over the last 24 hours to explain what went wrong. In doing so, the veteran midfielder has provided fans with some detail on what the tactics are when defending free-kicks and corners.

As quoted by the Glasgow Times, Brown said: “I thought we defended quite well throughout the game but it’s one set play and it’s those small margins in football that, you lose concentration for a few seconds, and he scores a header at the back post and gets a run on the lads. It’s something that’s pretty much been throughout our whole season.

“He (White) was between me and Kris (Ajer). It’s zonal marking, we work on it and it’s how we do it. We keep a line. It’s part and parcel of football. People want to do zonal, others want to do man marking. We do a mixture of both.

“We can stop the run, we can head it better – we need to look at it and right it tomorrow.”

Celtic blunder in Dingwall comes down to Laxalt

Isolating the County goal itself, the finger of blame unfortunately has to be pointed towards Laxalt. He didn’t match anywhere near White’s level of enthusiasm to get to the ball. It was weak and smacked of a player who didn’t enjoy the role he was being asked to do.

Brown says that Celtic do both zonal and man-marking. I have seldom seen the latter this season. Whenever we give away a free-kick, the defence all stands in a line and marks zonally. This allows players such as White, with his power, to easily muscle the likes of Laxalt out the road.

You have to question whether the same result would’ve occurred had there been strict instructions for Ajer to mark him, for example. We had the likes of Ajer, Stephen Welsh, and Odsonne Edouard all on the pitch at the time. It would’ve been more ideal for one of those players to be focusing on County’s main aerial threat.

Jordan White scores for Ross County v Celtic / (Photo by Paul Campbell/Getty Images)

Of course Laxalt should’ve done better. We all acknowledge that. But he wasn’t helped by the tactics either. He’s made an error in not tracking the run, but White would’ve always beaten him in the air regardless.

Celtic fans are now beyond talking about improving our defensive work. We just want different personnel in at this stage.

But Brown can’t say anything that will make us believe we’re going to fix the problems we have with the back-line. We’ve yet to do it all season.

In other news, Derek McInnes’ injury problems are reportedly piling up ahead of Celtic Park trip.