Furuhashi has the quality to reverse 2020/21's worst Celtic trend
There was a really damaging Celtic trend last season.
Ok, fine, there were a few. The recruitment was scattergun and short-term in scope. We couldn’t defend set-pieces to save our lives. The continued insistence on playing Ryan Christie out of position meant one of our favourite attacking players became a subject of derision.
More than that, though, Celtic just drew far, far too many matches. Sorry for making you look at last year’s league table again [Sky Sports], but here; 11 draws. More than Hibs, who finished third in the Premiership.
A lack of cutting edge, as much as slack defending, was to blame. Odsonne Edouard was criticised plenty last season, but he actually ended up doing a pretty remarkable job. He topped 20 goals, and was relied upon by Neil Lennon (and to a lesser degree, John Kennedy) to finish chances. Yes, fine, that’s the job of a striker, but he can’t do it alone.
In league campaigns further back, goalscoring was spread out more widely. James Forrest, Scott Sinclair, Ryan Christie et al would be able to chip in to excellent effect. That just didn’t happen in 20-21. Instead, Edouard was way out ahead in the scoring ranks, with Elyounoussi behind him [WhoScored?].
For a variety of reasons, Edouard cannot be solely relied upon to win matches for Celtic. That’s true of any football club; your centre-forward should score the lion’s share, but there have to be other options to win football matches.
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And so, enter Kyogo Furuhashi.
Ange Postecoglou has addressed a key Celtic need with Furuhashi, Abada and introduction of Academy talents
The top-scorer in the J-League for two consecutive seasons, Furuhashi offers something entirely different, in terms of goal threat. Not only does he take his fair share of chances, he’s also a creator. With a centre-forward’s education, he has the potential to match, and even top, what Scott Sinclair provided under Brendan Rodgers.
With a fit James Forrest on the other flank, a front three of Furuhashi, Ajeti/Edouard and Forrest is potentially lethal. That’s not even taking into consideration goal-getters like Liel Abada, who was lethal for Maccabi Petah Tikva last season. Or, indeed, the likes of Academy talents Karamoko Dembelé and Owen Moffat, who have found the net in pre-season.
Yes, the defence needs major surgery, but it wasn’t just that which contributed to our dismal 20-21. The drop-off in goals was a major concern, and we really should have been finishing off teams like Livingston, Hibs and Dundee United with a level of panache.
This isn’t to say we should expect to win every game. Far from it.
However, Celtic have brought in the right parts to return us to an equivalent level of confidence domestically.