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Turnbull, McGregor & Rogic

This article is not intended to be a Turnbull bashing and make him a scapegoat for last night's performance or in fact recent performances.

It is more of Ange's fault than his and it is also not an Ange bashing article either.

It's intended to highlight a major weakness in our team that has been there for a year and a half and is a recruitment issue.

Therefore the blame lies at the Head of Recruitment. We should sack them. Oh wait we don't have one. Then let's sack the CEO for not having one. Oh wait we don't have a CEO.

I would also say that contrary to the opinion of many McGregor is not an ideal No.6 for us either. Yeah he is ideal offensively as a No.6 for progressing the ball and controlling the flow of the game but he is not good enough defensively (both in transition and not) for the role.

Given that in Europe we are more often than not up against better teams than us then McGregor as a No.6 in Europe is not something I can buy into. Against SPFL teams at home and possibly even some SPFL teams away then yeah maybe.

My reason for mentioning this is to highlight it is a system issue with Celtic and not an individual bashing of Turnbull or McGregor etc.

Last year in this article I highlighted how two loan players (Laxalt and Elyounoussi) ran past McGregor, Christie and Turnbull in transition when Rangers scored their first goal. And I like many others have held up Christie as an ideal No.8 for us. I wouldn't say it was lazy or non-trying and I was just think it is to do with the mindset (defensively) of the set up in midfield.

I also highlighted Turnbull's lack of tracking back versus St Mirren at home last season (2-1 defeat) at St Mirren's first goal. It was a jog rather than a run and there have been many other instances.

The Celtic Way highlighted Turnbull has had an improvement in tackles and interceptions this year and therefore workrate. Which means Turnbull is improving a part of his game that is not natural to him but systemically it is an issue for Celtic.

In my opinion Ange got his team selection wrong last night and he will get a lot wrong as he learns about this team, the Scottish game and the European games.

A midfield three from Soro, Bitton, McCarthy, McGregor, Rogic and Turnbull had 20 different combinations. I believe Ange picked the most ineffective out of those 20. Even if you put McGregor in as a definite then there are 10 different combinations from Soro, Bitton, McCarthy, Turnbull and Rogic.

The average position map here shows the average positions of our midfield three last night, Rangers midfield three last night and also two of Bayer Leverkusen's attacking midfield players (Paulinho and Wirtz). It also includes for info Jota's average position.

It doesn't include Bayer Leverkusen's two defensive midfield pivots.

Every player on the map has an average position lower than Turnbull and that includes two Bayer Leverkusen midfielders that had two pivots behind them.

I would suggest that this shows a weakness in our system unless we were at home to weaker opposition, which of course we weren't.

The map is based on touches so is not 100% as it doesn't track running etc but it is as good a guide as I can get a hold of.

My midfield three last night (and ongoing till January) would have been Bitton as the No.6 with McGregor and another in front of him. Probably Turnbull but he needs to fight for his position. We can then look for someone better than Bitton in January as well as at least one other No.8.

Paul Lambert was saying after the game that finger pointing is needed and used Turnbull's error as an example of when it should happen. I disagree. Nothing needs to be said to Turnbull regarding that incident, he will know himself. The finger pointing needs done at the tracking back and defensive positioning as that's a learning need for him.

It is unfair on Turnbull because Rogic and McGregor (as a No.6) beside him doesn't help him although to be fair he doesn't help them either.

But as a midfield three this needs changed as soon as possible.

When the three were played together versus Dundee I was very worried and at the time I said if those three were the midfield when we played Rangers a few weeks later there is no chance we would win. It worked well versus Dundee but that should have been a one-off.

Juco James and Alan Morrison highlighted at the start of the season Turnbull might find it difficult in Ange's style and it is good to see he has improved in areas (ie workrate mentioned above and adding more goals to his game).

However Turnbull is on a learning curve and prior to last night had only played two European games for us. One against a Lille team that had already qualified and the other away to Betis. That was his first home European game against a team that something to play for. Home European games are difficult for a player because the fans expect to win but the opposition is a lot more challenging.

We need to support him by either leaving him out or picking more effective players around him. McGregor as a No.8 and Bitton as a No.6 would help.

I'm hoping Ange has learned from this too.

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Jim Farrell
Jim Farrell
Oct 03, 2021

Good analysis. Who would have thought we would still be talking about Bitton!

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