Undoubtedly, 2020/21 has been an extremely anti-climactic time for Celtic players, and Callum McGregor is no different.
Everyone has suffered from the general malaise at the Celts in recent months, McGregor more than most. A key anchor in the midfield, he has not enjoyed his most productive campaign in comparison to his lofty standards. However, this has not exactly been all his own doing.
Noticeably, he has been used in a deeper role over the last year in multiple different formations. Whether this function has been deployed in order to help out the ageing Scott Brown, or to compensate for a leaky defence, it has not made sense. Fundamentally, his output going forward which was a key part of the Quadruple-Treble run has been restricted significantly.
Unsurprisingly, this has been reflected in his goal contribution tallies in previous times contrasted to the present. This season, the Scot has registered four goals and 11 assists [Transfermarkt]. In 2019/20 though, he recorded a much more well-rounded 13 goals and 10 assists [Transfermarkt]. Primarily, the reason for this can be attributed to his tactical utilisation.
Celtic superstar Callum McGregor simply must be used effectively
Encouragingly, even in an underwhelming period for both McGregor and Celtic he has still made a respectable impact. Indicative of his quality, the 27-year-old has recorded an impressive 89.6% pass accuracy rate in the Scottish Premiership [WhoScored]. Also, his key pass ratio of 1.6 per game is commendable when factoring in his current role in the side [WhoScored].
In particular, the Scotland international has struggled to exert himself in the 4-4-2 diamond formation. Charged with defensive and attacking responsibility, he almost performs the responsibility of a left midfielder when tracking back. In defensive transition, the diamond usually means he is found entrenched in his own half trying to mop up untidy situations.
Consequentially, he is often too far away to meaningfully connect with his attacking counterparts. McGregor has the capability to compete in both boxes, nevertheless, this needs to be monitored properly. As seen before, the academy product has one of the Hoops most influential offensive players over the last five campaigns.
To give an idea of the scale of his influence breaking from the middle, he has notched 42 goals and 52 assists from the start of 2016/17 until now [Transfermarkt]. Statistically, these numbers are quite incredible for an all-action midfielder. Celtic may not have won consistent silverware without his input.
Going forward, any prospective new manager should look to use McGregor and his creative intuition regularly. If this transpires, the Glaswegian will see a major revival in the forthcoming 2021/22. Tipped for the captaincy, he may well become the main man at Celtic.