Why John Kennedy could be about to throw out Lennon's go-to Celtic formation

By Euan Davidson

February 27, 2021

John Kennedy might be about to remove the tactical shackles from the Celtic team.

Yes, we predicted a certain shape and the personnel for today’s meeting with Aberdeen. Still, with the possibility of Mikey Johnston returning, and Celtic’s underperformance in recent weeks, Kennedy may be tempted to change for change’s sake.

And he’s more than entitled to. The Celtic interim manager will want to make an immediate mark. Perhaps, Kennedy has seen a better version of this Bhoys team in his mind’s eye. It’d be surprising if that wasn’t the case, given the ex-defender’s tenure in the coaching staff.

There are two schools of thought here. Kennedy could stick with the diamond and make it work. Alternatively, as we’ve predicted before, JK may opt to blow it up, and use the good ol’ 4-2-3-1.

Kennedy cut his teeth as a coach working with Ronny Deila and Brendan Rodgers. Both were fans of the formation, and both used it to varying degrees of success. Certainly, the personnel are there to use it effectively.

John Kennedy on the Celtic touchline / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

John Kennedy may wish to spark Celtic into life after dismal diamond’s diminishing returns

Full disclosure: we liked the diamond at first. It’s still a formation that absolutely works, however unfashionable it is. Still, it was giving Celtic diminishing returns under Lennon, with Celtic scraping ugly wins against Aberdeen and St Johnstone.

It’s a formation that lives and dies by its personnel. If you’re early 00s AC Milan, with Pirlo, Gattuso, Ambrosini and Kaka, then you’re probably fine. With an ageing Scott Brown, and Christie and Turnbull confused as to their responsibilities, it falls apart a wee bit.

With Ismaila Soro providing energy and thrust from defensive midfield, there’s room for it to perform well. Even when strikers aren’t performing at their best, a number 10 and two central, wider midfielders can create their own shots. Turnbull’s howitzer against Aberdeen, for example [SPFL].

When it isn’t working, though, it can be plodding and ugly to watch. One of Neil Lennon’s major failures in 20-21 was getting entertaining performances out of his players. Big victories have been far rarer, and even in 4-0 wins, we’ve looked unconvincing.

So, Kennedy can stick or twist; we’ve exalted what he can do with a 4-2-3-1.

Whatever he decides will be fascinating to watch.

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