The middle of the park
He’s tried, and going by the Bodo result and performance, he’s failed. Actually it’s more than just the Bodo game, we’ve been more cold than hot for a sequence of games now.
The defence is mostly settled, the forward trio usually sees minimal change, Big Joe in nets is a given, it just can’t be denied the middle of the park is a weak spot for better sides and that area still needs work.
We started the season with a deep lying Calmac, Tam playing a more forward role, and young Master Turnbull somewhere in between. That trio was soon dumped, broke up for a fresh start.
Nir Bitton was drafted in, another red card soon saw him drafted out. James McCarthy has clearly been deemed not of sufficient quality despite his domestic and EPL experience. Soro and Henderson we’re never given a chance, presumably judged at training and found wanting.
Then the Japanese double act arrived, alongside the talented Matt O’Reilly. Three new players all given the nod by our Greek Australian, the midfield numbers were significantly bolstered.
But yet, issues remain. Hatate impressed initially, but faded. Guchi is yet to make a number of consecutive starts, Matt finds himself without settled partners with which to form an understanding.
And of course our Captain got his face smashed in, though he will brave the discomfort in order to lead out his team.
As a result of all the above, we still dont have a first choice three in the middle of the park.
As a result of all the above we are blowing more cold than hot, and just lost the midfield battle to a lesser European name full of competent journeymen.
Now, it’s not all bad news. We have two and a half good things going for us in the midfield department.
One, Ange has shown character and strength in ringing the aforementioned changes. It’s just so very refreshing to have the leader on the page as the support,,we all got sick of seeing the same players with massive flaws picked week after week under previous managers.
Don’t cut the mustard, and it’s quickly the bench at best, just ask Bitton and McCarthy.
Two, our current lot can best every team in the nation. We proved that and despite this slump of sorts are in the driving seat for this year’s title. Whether we should be aiming for more than ‘just’ to become Champions has been debated many a time before, but this is the reality of Peters footballing policies and Dermots hands off ownership. Still, we do have what it takes to lift the league trophy come May.
The half,,we do have some options. Both Soro and young Henderson are in demand, Soro almost made the move to New York and a playing Henderson is much better than a squad filler in that he can mature as a player and be accessed by Ange whilst out on loan. Nir would get a transfer handy enough plus we’ve already got our worth out of him, and McCarthy was free and can leave on a free with just the years wages down the drain but some knowledge in the bank. Who knows if he cost Dom his job, I’m confident in stating he won’t cost Ange his, he’s not getting the chance to.
Of course in the middle of this muddle lies our Captain. He’s impressed me with his maturity, but the player remains an enigma. He’s a great footballer in my book, but hasn’t mastered any specific role to date and time is not on his side on that front. We’ve witnessed the deep lying Calmac, when played with Nir or James he steps forward into the middle more, but yet hadn’t found his niche. Hatate likes to step forward as does O’Reilly, that would leave our skipper once again as the holding midfielder, the very role Ange previously looked to take him away from.
Having witnessed his predecessor named weekly because he had the armband, the last thing I would wish for is a repeat. But yet there might be a strong case for a Calmac free midfield, there’s better for any role he may be asked to play, ie Guchi deep with Hatate and Matt helping out plus providing more of an attacking threat.
When James and Nir are inevitably replaced by an Ange choice, there’s more reason to experiment.
This might be Calmacs dream, captaining his beloved Celtic to glory, but he still needs to make himself undroppable.
Dundee at home plus a European dead rubber offer an interesting opportunity to view a new look middle of the park.
Should that area then begin to click and look menacing, the questions surrounding Callum will only increase. I certainly dont get the impression sentimentality shall suddenly enter Ange’s brain.
It shall be interesting to watch Ange fix the middle of the park, his biggest job yet.
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