There’s no denying that Ryan Christie’s return to action is a big boost for Celtic.
His absence was felt against Rangers as we failed to conjure up a single shot on target against Steven Gerrard’s men. So having him available to face AC Milan should give us some potency and creativity in the final third.
There are perhaps question marks over whether he’ll start the game given he’s been self-isolating for two weeks. But he only did so as a close contact, and considering he will have continually been testing negative, he should be as fresh as anyone.
Christie has always been Lennon’s go-to guy for the big occasion too. But at times he’s been utilised in a way that has just infuriated us all.
When Celtic struggled to have a striker fit back in August, Christie was handed the role by Lennon to operate as a lone front-man. This led to ridiculously ineffective displays against the likes of Ferencvaros and Motherwell respectively – the former seeing us get knocked out of the Champions League.
That was despite the fact Lennon did have the likes of Albian Ajeti and Patryk Klimala on the bench too. The former seemingly wasn’t fit whilst the latter just wasn’t trusted against Ferencvaros.
But Lennon has continued this nonsensical tactic of playing an attacking midfielder or wide-man up top.
And don’t play Moi there either
Mohamed Elyounoussi has played there several times this season also, and most recently played alongside Klimala against Rangers. Unsurprisingly, Moi was dreadful as he was barely in the game.
Lennon again has a dilemma for Milan. With Odsonne Edouard out and Ajeti again not fully fit along with Leigh Griffiths, a two-striker attack could easily see the manager throw Christie back into a striker position.
But it’s a decision that will attract criticism at a time when the Celtic boss needs some positive press. Putting further pressure on himself by playing players out of position simply must be avoided at all costs. The fans simply aren’t in the mood for it.
Even if Celtic have to only play a lone front-man and change their shape in behind him, that’s absolutely fine. In fact, you could say it’s expected against a team of Milan’s quality.
But if Lennon puts Christie, or indeed Elyounoussi, up front again alongside Klimala – don’t expect any fireworks. A poor performance from either man and Lennon will be questioned for his selection decisions once again. The Celtic boss has often been criticised for playing players in positions that don’t suit them (take these reactions to the announcement of David Turnbull’s arrival for instance).
This is a night where Neil simply has to get the team spot on. Play players in their normal positions and set your team up with everyone experienced in the role they’re being asked to play.
For Christie, that means as a number 10 just in behind either one or two strikers. It doesn’t matter if Lennon goes for either, but he has to make sure his attacking midfielders stay in that area of the pitch.
It’s time to leave the striker positions to the actual strikers Neil. Going against that logic would only infuriate fans further.