Some Celtic fans call for Neil Lennon plan to end

By David Walton

December 22, 2019

A new Neil Lennon plan appears to have been integrated into the team in recent weeks.

With both Mikey Johnston and Mohamed Elyounoussi struggling for fitness in recent months, it’s given Lennon an idea. James Forrest has often been switched out onto the left in their place. That’s then forced Ryan Christie to go on the right as opposed to his natural number 10 position, where Olivier Ntcham has instead picked up the mantle.

Neil Lennon has been tinkering with his personnel (Paul Ursachi/MB Media/Getty Images)

He most recently carried it out against Aberdeen on Saturday. The 2-1 success over the Dons may have been narrow in terms of the scoreline, but Celtic still created a plethora of chances. Previous matches against Hearts and Hamilton have also seen this come into effect.

Yet despite the fact it hasn’t halted our winning run, some fans don’t believe we’re getting the best out of certain players in that specific system. Here’s what some had to say on it:

Everyone in their natural positions for Sunday

The supporters are pretty spot on here. Christie, whilst providing the assist for Odsonne Edouard on Saturday, is certainly limited on the right. The fact that defenders know he’ll always look to cut inside is a giveaway.

Yet, in fairness, how can you complain about Neil Lennon’s selections? He still won the game 2-1, and Celtic managed to fire in 28 shots against the Dons (BBC). Those numbers look great regardless of what shape you play.

Ryan Christie has recently been limited down the right (Ewan Bootman/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Ntcham has most certainly returned to form playing as a number 10, but that remains Christie’s position. It’s the latter who must start at Parkhead next week. If Lennon goes with Ntcham, it should be in a slightly deeper role, but it’s highly doubtful he drops Callum McGregor or Scott Brown.

It’s also clear that Forrest comes across as highly-restricted on the left side. He just doesn’t get into games as much, and considering he hasn’t scored in any of his last five league games, the proof is in the stats.

That’s not to say he isn’t getting the chances. He missed a sitter at Tynecastle and also managed assists against Hearts and Hibs respectively. But Forrest doesn’t look comfortable in the positions he finds himself in on the left.

James Forrest doesn’t get the same joy down the left (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

It’s not a system that’s failing us, but it’s hugely divisive and controversial amongst supporters. Celtic are still getting the points, and Lenny clearly feels the need to rotate. However, Celtic just seem to flow better with players playing in their right positions.

St Mirren on Boxing Day will give us a good chance of seeing whether Johnston will be fit or not. It would be ideal to give him more minutes before the Rangers game, but he has to be 100% ready to play next week if he is to start.