How Celtic-linked right-back George Baldock would fit seamlessly into Postecoglou's system

By Euan Davidson

July 23, 2021

Celtic and George Baldock is a link that goes way back.

The Bhoys wanted the Sheffield United right-back as early as 2019 [Sheffield Star]. Neil Lennon was said to be compiling a dossier on the Englishman, before opting for Hatem Abd Elhamed, Jeremie Frimpong and Moritz Bauer instead.

And so, the Blades held onto their man for a further two seasons. In the first, Chris Wilder’s eccentric overlapping centre-backs gained all the attention. Sheffield United finished 9th, just below Arsenal in the Premier League.

Admittedly, it all fell apart a bit in 20-21. Wilder’s side were marooned at the bottom of the table, and were relegated without much fuss. However, that’s not to take away from what Wilder was doing at United, nor the efforts of his right-back, George Baldock.

Under Wilder, though, Baldock played an integral role in a system that’s being adopted by Ange Postecoglou. We’re seeing centre-backs split wide, with full-backs coming into occupy central positions.

That way, you can create interesting 2-v-1 situations on the ball, and provide coverage off it. The Mastermind Site ran an excellent guide to overlapping centre-backs, which you can read here.

A simple look at Baldock’s touches and runs last season shows the kind of work he can do in this system. Take Sheffield United’s 1-1 draw with Fulham in 20-21 [WhoScored?]. In attacking situations, Baldock was tight against the touchline, providing an out ball.

While defending, he took up more central positions, finding himself on the edge of the box to win back possession after lung-busting runs from the Blades’ centre-backs.

Why George Baldock is a potentially good signing for Celtic boss Postecoglou

Baldock’s movement was even better in a win against Aston Villa [WhoScored?].

In a game where he set up the winning goal, Baldock was everywhere. The 28-year-old could be found deep in the middle of the park, covering his centre-backs, hugging the touchline and even in the box. It was the latter where he put the ball on a plate for David McGoldrick.

Interestingly, the Blades were a man down in that game. Yet, that didn’t stop Baldock exploring the half-spaces, and creating mismatches, despite only having 10 men.

Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

It’s that kind of effort and intensity Ange Postecoglou is wanting from his players. As it is, Anthony Ralston and Lee O’Connor just don’t have that level of experience or confidence to carry out the inverted full-back role on a regular basis.

Fine, his defensive statistics don’t leap from the page. He averaged 1.5 tackles and 0.9 interceptions in 20-21 [WhoScored?] last season, albeit for a poor United side. Still, Baldock has the wherewithal and the experience of a tactically eccentric manager to make it work at Celtic.

Baldock isn’t a random name plucked from the Premier League. From what we’ve seen, he’s Ange’s type of full-back. Can a deal be done?

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