Date: 1st May 2019 at 8:30am
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Interim boss Neil Lennon is the first man to admit he hasn’t changed much in the Celtic side since the departure of Brendan Rodgers in February.

Why would he need to?

When Rodgers controversially exited for Leicester City the Hoops were in the middle of an exceptional run of form and although there were big tests to come, tests which Lennon has navigated expertly, it’s fair to say the team were in good shape.

One tactical change was highlighted by Lennon himself in his post-match press conference at the weekend though when he pointed to the increase in crosses as something he has introduced to the team.

The only problem is that the direct attacking threat in terms of shots per game from crosses is exactly the same as under Rodgers despite a massive increase in output of high crosses.

Analytical stat blogger Fitba In Scotland pointed this out at the weekend with two tweets that suggest the increase in quantity of high crosses isn’t have much of a positive effect at all.

It’s a very interesting insight into why this team might not be scoring as much as we’d expect over the last couple of months.

You don’t need to delve into stats to know this Celtic are a team who thrive on quick movement and a fluid interchange of passes in the final third.

Lennon’s crossing tactic may be viable with a different set of players, but this team can’t rely on high early balls into the box, it simply stifles the obvious creativity in the team and the key attributes of many influential attacking players.

We often have no stand-out physical aerial threat in the box. Odsonne Edouard is an exceptional talent, but he isn’t really the type who will make that daring run to get on the end of a quality cross.

Wide players like Scott Sinclair and James Forrest are simply not equipped for that style either, much preferring to keep the ball close to feet and take on players to cut back or fire across the six yard box.

The fact that Kieran Tierney has been in and out of the team of late hasn’t helped either, he’s the one player that could perhaps consistently find a quality high ball into the box.

By focusing on a tactic that creates a poorer quality of chance, we may be holding ourselves back here and it’s something I hope Lennon looks at over the coming weeks.

There’s something to be said for a more direct style of play, but hopefully we can get back to the free flowing football that has been the hallmark of our recent treble successes.

 

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