The confusing Kennedy decision that backfired badly on Celtic at Tannadice

By David Walton

March 7, 2021

John Kennedy failed to produce for Celtic at Tannadice this afternoon as his Hoops side surrendered the title in an embarrassing fashion.

The Hoops bossed Dundee United for long spells and should’ve been several goals up by the hour mark. However, the likes of Odsonne Edouard, Mohamed Elyounoussi, and Ryan Christie were all guilty of some dreadful misses.

Yet despite the profligacy, it’s fair to say that all of our good play came through one man – David Turnbull.

Dundee Utd’s midfield couldn’t deal with the former Motherwell man’s ball control. Turnbull’s deceiving quick feet led to him constantly finding space for both himself and his team-mates. He was the spark that created several big chances in the first half in particular.

Even at the start of the second 45, Celtic relied on Turnbull to boss the game. Not Scott Brown. Not Callum McGregor. Absolutely everything went through Turnbull. When the ball arrived at his feet, it was down to him to lure opposition defenders towards him. He did that so impressively today.

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Kennedy made costly Celtic error at Tannadice this afternoon

Why, oh why then did Kennedy decide to hook Turnbull when the pressure was ramping up on Celtic to score? The interim manager made the bemusing decision to take David off with just under half an hour remaining. Tom Rogic came on in is place, and as expected, we were a mess afterward.

It was incredible just how sloppy were with the ball after that moment. Our passes started being intercepted a lot easier, whilst so much of the play seemed to be bypassing the midfield more often. When the likes of Christie, Rogic, or McGregor got the ball, there weren’t enough players showing for it.

It was almost as if taking Turnbull out of the Celtic team was the jenga piece that made it all fall apart. It became end-to-end stuff, with absolutely no control of the midfield. This allowed United to kill off more and more time in our own final third. As such, the level of pressure Celtic had on United was cranked down a notch after the hour mark.

Celtic interim manager John Kennedy (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

This was Kennedy’s decision. Unless it was injury-related, and it didn’t look to be that way, there’s no excuse for this. If that was Neil Lennon making that decision, he would’ve been hounded for it. Kennedy must accept the criticism that will come his way for it.

And if this is any form of audition for the permanent gig at Parkhead, that wasn’t a great look for John. In terms of game-management, it was perhaps the worst decision he could’ve made.

If there was any chance of Kennedy getting the job, it must now be dismissed after today. To even have had a chance, everything had to go perfectly. Today’s second-half decision, however, is a major red flag.

In other news, we discuss three things we learned as Celtic surrendered the title at Tannadice.