Home World UK 'Why didn't Lennon change it earlier?'

‘Why didn’t Lennon change it earlier?’

There are really big questions for Neil Lennon after Saturday’s abject Old Firm defeat. And the Celtic manager has got to come up with the answers.

Losing, and in such a meek way, will be alarming for Celtic and the manager has to do something to get his team firing. Whether that means sticking or twisting with the 3-5-2, he has to find a solution.

A historic 10-in-a-row is on the line, but somehow it has all gone flat at Celtic.

‘Lennon has no answer to Gerrard’s set up’

Like the previous two Old Firm games, Rangers dominated in and out of possession. Steven Gerrard’s side were able to implement their game plan and control Celtic’s play.

But this isn’t new. In the last three derbies, Celtic have never been able to find any rhythm and it is predominately down to the way their rivals set-up.

Their shape and formation is a well-oiled machine, and they all know what they are doing, and Celtic simply have no answers for it. They really don’t.

I don’t see how Lennon feels the 3-5-2 formation is the answer to going against this Rangers side – the result on Saturday was predictable.

‘Everyone could see the shape wasn’t working’

Rangers have got a real cluster of players in the middle of the pitch, with their two inverted wingers and two attacking full-backs. And with Steven Davis anchoring the midfield, they have a really good balance.

If you are going to try and cause them problems, you need to get at their full-backs. You need width and to be high up the pitch.

Going with a 3-5-2, you are adding another central defender. But for what? I find it astonishing that Lennon waited until the 84th minute to change the shape.

Why? What did he expect to happen with six minutes to go? Was that that him admitting that it wasn’t working? Because everyone recognised the shape wasn’t working after 10 minutes.

I don’t see how Celtic’s attacking, creative players fit into that system. Effectively, two creative players have been swapped for a wing-back and a centre-back.

Celtic didn’t need to do that. They tried to change something, but in the process they have lost the identity of what they are trying to achieve.

They are lacking a bit of dynamism in the team as a whole. They’re lacking drive, energy and pace. They’ve gone to a 3-5-2 formation which relies so heavily on wing-backs. Jeremie Frimpong gives you that, but other than that where is the running power in that team?

Lennon stated previously about how great and how brilliant his team have been playing, but the reality is, they are not.

‘The challenge for Rangers now is consistency’

Credit must go to Rangers. They forced Celtic to play in the middle of the park, keeping them in a defensive area, shutting off all their attacking lines while narrowing the pitch. And Celtic played right into their hands.

Gerrard’s side are in a very good place, they are in a rhythm and a shape. They have worked on this for a number of years and you can see they look comfortable. The challenge now is to make sure they keep that consistency.

Saturday’s win leaves them four points clear. And, with Celtic playing in the Scottish Cup at the start of next month, Rangers have a good opportunity to get points on the board, open a bigger gap, and create a mentality where they are comfortable at the summit.

That will ramp up the pressure on Celtic, as there is a possibility that when the second Old Firm game comes around Rangers could be substantially ahead with the opportunity to extend even further.

They will believe that they can do that. It is a very good position for them to be in, whereas Celtic have all the questions to answer.

Michael Stewart was speaking to BBC Sport Scotland’s Nick McPheat

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