Date: 7th February 2020 at 12:00pm
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Former Celtic striker, John Hartson, sees shades of Martin O’Neill’s glory days in the current Hoops side and has backed Neil Lennon’s change in shape.

Speaking on BBC Sportsound (reported in The Daily Record), Hartson explains where the similarities are between the two gaffers.

So what has Hartson said?

When asked for his thoughts on Celtic’s tactical change since the winter break to 3-5-2, the Welsh international said:

“It seems to be working, six wins in 2020 since coming back from the winter break, both players (Odsonne Edouard and Leigh Griffiths) in great form and scoring goals.”

“The three at the back allows the wing-backs to get forward and play almost as wingers. That was the system Martin O’Neill played with when I was at the club, it very rarely changed.”

“We very rarely changed the personnel, just like Celtic made one change between Hamilton on Sunday and last night. Neil obviously worked with Martin for long periods and that was the system we trusted. Everybody knew their roles and it was effective.”

“Then we had players like Lambert and Petrov who played like McGregor, who would burst into the box, win the second balls and play on the edge of the box. That gives the wing-backs the opportunity to supply the strikers and get balls into the box, and the right and left centre-backs can shuffle over.”

“That system got us to the UEFA Cup final, always with a partnership up front.”

So is Hartson correct?

The system may be the same but the style of play is completely different, yes, Lennon is playing with the same shape as his mentor O’Neill but his team isn’t full of giants and although he has a more direct philosophy than his predecessor, Brendan Rodgers, it is hardly route one football that he has his team playing.

When you compare the two sides, the current Celtic one is tiny in physical stature compared to Hartson’s era when they would regularly take to the field with six or seven players not just over the 6ft mark but over 6ft 3inch making them almost unstoppable from set-pieces and from open play crosses.

Henrik Larsson would often find himself unmarked despite being the most obvious goal-scoring threat purely because of his height, despite the fact he was one of the best headers of a ball in the team.

Who would win in a one off match in the battle of the 3-5-2s?

O'Neill's treble team of 2000/01.

O'Neill's treble team of 2000/01.

Lennon's current Treble Treble winners.

Lennon's current Treble Treble winners.

Lennon made very few changes in the first-half of the season and again looks as though he will rarely stray from his first choice XI, few could argue against the gaffer’s tactics when everything is so rosy in the ¬†gardens of Paradise.

 

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