Celtic True or False | Mourinho, Rogic & the Defensive Trinity

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A panel of Cynic writers tackle the burning Celtic questions, answering true or false to statements about the team. This week’s panel is made up of Bryan McManus, Louis McCaffrey, Keith McGinty and Alex Papadopoulos.

Hiring Jose Mourinho doesn’t make 10 in a row any more likely than if Neil Lennon was in charge

McMANUS: False. There is absolutely no guarantee Celtic will get 9 let alone 10.  The next appointment will be the most important since Martin O’Neill as the pressure that will come with going for 9 will be insane.  Celtic need to hire someone who has the highest level of experience to deal with everything that will be coming our way.  Lennon ticks a lot of boxes for the role however I would prefer someone else, I think Jose is a bit of a pipe dream but it would be an incredible appointment.  Despite what happened at Man Utd he is the biggest manager in world football.

McCAFFREY: False. Domestically both men can do the job necessary to win the league twice in a row to secure the 10. However, winning the league isn’t the first priority for a Celtic manager. Europe is where a manager’s success will be measured and in Jose we would have a man with a wealth of experience and know how, Lennon could only dream of.

McGINTY: True. Jose Mourinho is a blue-chip manager. An even bigger name than Brendan Rodgers and, if reports are true, a massive statement of intent by the Celtic Board, not only for 10 in a Row but how they want the Club to be seen throughout Europe for now and the foreseeable future. However, Mourinho is a manager used to working with the very best players. I’m not so sure we would be able to attract the calibre of which he would demand. One of Lennon’s positive qualities is that he can identify talented players. Would Mourinho be as capable working with our squad of Audi A8s as his is working with the Maserati’s he’s used to? I’m not so sure…but I think I’d enjoy the ride.

PAPADOPOULOS: True. Despite the huge bump to xPatter and xShiterhousery that would accompany the Special One, he’s not what he once was. Just like Lennon’s aggressive management style, Mourinho is a bit of a dinosaur, and is certainly not the manager that Celtic need just now when they should be looking to move away from an all-powerful coach.

True 2, False 2

Verdict: Undecided

Scott Bain, Jozo Simunovic and Kristoffer Ajer is a settled defensive unit and unless they are injured should start the Champions League qualifiers, regardless of who Celtic bring in before that.

McMANUS: True. The qualifiers are always difficult so starting with a solid base at the back makes sense.  Bain and Ajer should be mainstays for years to come and Jozo’s performances under Lennon means he merits keeping the starting slot just now, although if Jose brings in Pepe then I’d start him ahead of Jozo, with Jozo starting all the games Pepe would be suspended for.

McCAFFREY: True. The three of them are the greatest. Bain is certain to be No 1 next season, Ajer could be a future vice-captain (to KT) and Jozo broke Kenny Miller in two before channelling the spirit of Cesar. The new 3 Amigos.

McGINTY: False. Purely because Jozo cannot be trusted to play on artificial surfaces. If we were fortunate and all of our qualifiers were on grass then I would be confident on those 3 getting us through provided the full-backs were strengthened, but we’re likely to have at least one tie on artificial. We need a partner for Ajer who can help us confidently progress through all of the qualifiers, irrespective of the condition underfoot.

PAPADOPOULOS: True. As a committed member of the Kristoffer Ajer Lifetime Contract CSC, this is the unit I see Celtic progressing with. You can see that in the latter part of this season an understanding has emerged between Jozo and the handsome Norwegian, on and off the park.

True 3, False 1

Verdict: True

Micky Johnston, Tony Ralston and Calvin Miller are all young, capable back-up players and should have been getting a lot more minutes this season over older players and loanees such as Hayes, Izzy and Toljan.

McMANUS: False. None of the three have really shown they are capable of holding down a first team place long term. Johnston may have a chance in the future but can’t see Ralston or Miller forging careers at Celtic.  Likelihood is that those 2 will end up in the English Championship and be brilliant as it’s a pretty poor league that even Daryl Murphy and that ex-Rangers player who squared up to a wee guy from St Ninian’s outside a chippy and got laughed at, excelled in.

McCAFFREY: True. All three have seen their playing time cut to almost nothing since the Rat left. If they are gonna make it they better make it quick. Trust in the youth!

McGINTY: False. Any other year and I would probably have said True and highlighted it green to make it stand out even more. Yet this year was all about stopping our dear Govan rivals building up any head of steam whatsoever. It has been suggested that next season we should use The League Cup to give youngsters more game time and I am all for this.

PAPADOPOULOS: True. While we can all agree that Mikey Johnston has huge potential, can the same be said for Ralston and Miller? Regardless, you don’t know unless you give them game time, and young players will always give their all to impress. Something Celtic might benefit from given how lethargic they have been of late.

True 2, False 2

Verdict: Undecided

Tom Rogic has been Celtic’s worst first-team player this season.

McMANUS: False. . As much as I wanted to say true just to noise up Louis McCaffrey he hasn’t been the worst.  His season has been hampered by injuries but he’s shown flashes of just how good we all know he can be.  With a good pre-season under his belt I am confident he’ll be back delivering the goods for 60 minutes a game next season.

McCAFFREY: False. Get this statement in the sea. In a season blighted by injury, Tam has still scored 5 goals and made 6 assists to date (for comparison Paddy Roberts scored once and made 5 assist for Celtic last season in another season plagued by injury setbacks). Gordon, Izzy, Lustig, Boyata, Hendry, Toljan, Gamboa, and Ntcham have all been consistently worse this season. Tam is the most gifted player at the club; if you don’t see that you’re no well.

McGINTY: False. This season’s performances are far from the standard we expect from Rogic but he has still managed 5 goals and 6 assists in 33 appearances. At the start of the season I think he looked frustrated with Rodgers because of where he was asked to play. The team weren’t playing well as a whole and Rogic was struggling to influence the game. That has improved as he has played a more central role but he needs a good rest and a bit more competition for his position next season.

PAPADOPOULOS: True . First comes the denial, then the grieving, then finally the acceptance. I’m sorry Tam, but you’re still in Russia. No one other than McGregor and Forrest were really firing on all cylinders in the first half of the season, but Rogic didn’t impress even before he was dragged away from us kicking and screaming for the Asian Cup. However, The Man with Four Hands will be back.

True 1, False 3

Verdict: False

Callum McGregor needs to be Celtic’s deepest-lying midfielder next season, playing instead of Scott Brown

McMANUS: False. Another difficult one. I think this is the way to go long term, but next season will be mental and we’ll need Scott Brown doing what he does best surrounded by a core of solid, reliable players (probably no starting place for Rogic then).  McGregor will rightly take over the role from Brown in the future but next season isn’t one for “experiments”. I think we are all pretty certain it will be the craziest season we’ve ever seen and the reason we won’t see VAR until the following season at least (unless we’re going for 10, then it will be delayed again).


McGINTY: True. True, *domestically*. I love Calmac. His high energy. How he loves to find space. How he drags players out of position. How he can pick a pass. How he tracks back and nicks the ball away from opponents, especially on the rare occasion that he gives the ball away. The synergy he had with Christie when Brown was injured earlier in the season. Most of all I love how he has grown into an important player for us. A technically gifted, intelligent midfielder who works hard for the team. Despite all of that I want someone beside him to do a bit of the dirty work when we play in Europe. Against Valencia Brown was being overrun in midfield until McGregor moved back beside him in the 2nd half. If Brown or Eboue Kouassi can’t do that then that may be yet another position that requires attention in the summer.

PAPADOPOULOS: True. My respect and admiration for Scott Brown is immeasurable. However, I say with confidence that his biggest contribution is not his vision or technical skill, but the intangibles that can get you over the line when the going gets tough. McGregor is the best creative outlet in the entire squad, and we play our best football when he sits deep, and dictates play.

True 3, False 1

Verdict: True

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