In this Cynic classic, we give a talented panel a list of 4 statements and ask their expert (or not) opinions to determine whether the statement is, in fact, true or false. I’m Stephen Russell (@SJRussell23) and debating this week we have Eoin Coyne (@toomanybigwords), Ronan Kearney (@Kearney1085), Sean McGinlay (@seanjmcginlay) and Stephen Wallace (@stephenwallac16)!
CELTIC SHOULD PLAY WITH TWO STRIKERS
COYNE: False. The idea that two strikers means more goals is pretty boneheaded in its simplicity. Attacking players who can score and create goals? Absolutely, but those now come from wide and central midfield positions. None of the strikers at the club have looked likely to form one of those ‘telepathic’ partnerships and we are already scoring plenty of goals.
KEARNEY: False. French Eddy is our number 1 striker. We look most comfortable playing with one striker with a fantastic supporting cast supporting from the wings and behind him. Let’s not forget that we have won everything there is to win domestically for the last three seasons playing this way. A second striker is a fantastic option to have and especially if it is someone of the quality of Leigh Griffiths but, for me, Eddy with Christie behind him and MJ and Forrest on the wings will tear it up.
MCGINLAY: True. Of course we should, especially in domestic football. It allows for greater freedom going forward. Edouard can drift out wide and have more of a free role with a partner, but that partner can’t be Griff. The two don’t gel, I don’t think Griff is the level of striker we should be aspiring for and I believe Edouard would work better playing off a physical presence up top. Bayo may well be that man, who knows?
WALLACE: True. In the league, yes. Celtic are all about entertainment and having two strikers who are good with the ball at their feet surrounded by other attacking players gives you entertaining football. Celtic’s best team this century played with two strikers and although one of them was a God amongst men, it works. It gives you more options and more goals.
Verdict: True 2-2 False. No doubting that Edouard is our main man up top but it’s debatable whether wingers to score goals or a partner to let Edouard drop off on the left will benefit the attack more.
MARIAN SHVED WILL DISPLACE JAMES FORREST THIS SEASON
COYNE: False. I do think the Ukrainian Jamesy will have a good first season but displacing a player who should still be just about at his peak and was arguably our best player last year will not be happening this season. Injuries or dramatic loss of form, possibly even a switch of role for Forrest may open things up for him though.
KEARNEY: False(ish). James Forrest has been one of our star Bhoys in this treble treble era. He has just turned 28. He has another few years left in him before he may need to tweak his style of play if his pace deserts him. Shved’s highlight reel has looked amazing and his introduction in Tallinn didn’t hurt either. However, I am loathed to toss away my trusted play thing for a shiny, sparkly toy who bangs them in from 25 yards regularly. I think this season could be a slow passing of the torch where Shved will go into next season as our first-choice winger.
MCGINLAY: False. Forrest offers so much to Celtic not just offensively but defensively and as an outlet in both a back 4 and 3 he is vital to allowing us to get up the park with ease. I see Shved as a number 10, or as an inside forward on the right-hand side but I also see Forrest being able to play a role on the left in a similar style to Shved. There are too many aspects to Jamesy’s game that we rely on to allow him to be displaced even though Shved is clearly an exciting talent.
WALLACE: False. For our pursuit for the 9th,we need players like James Forrest. He gets it. He’s been here for them all and he would want to be a main part of finishing it. At times last season he was unplayable for both us and for Scotland. Shved looks like a real talent, but its Jimbag for me. His form can dip but usually that’s when teams play to stop him and put numerous people around him. This could open up more space for other players meaning that even though he’s not directly scoring goals, teams know he’s a threat.
Verdict: True 0-4 False. While we can’t hide our excitement for Shved, it’s clear to our panel that it isn’t Forrest’s time to step aside just yet.
LEWIS MORGAN HAS A ROLE TO PLAY AT CELTIC THIS SEASON
COYNE: False. Much like Ralston, I just think he’s not quite at the level required. That said, he showed good signs in pre-season and Lennon has kept him near the first team squad for now. As bodies return I wouldn’t be surprised to see him drop back down the pecking order before leaving on loan again.
KEARNEY: False. Not for me. MJ, Forrest, Shved and Sinclair get into the team ahead of him if I am in the dugout. Alas, Peter Lawwell didn’t give me the call when the rat moved to his new lair in Leicester. I don’t want him in the team ahead of MJ or Forrest and would prefer Shved to see game time instead of Morgan. Given the fact that we have Sinclair on a salary chunkier than Alan McGregor’s belly, it makes sense to give him the minutes ahead of Morgan.
MCGINLAY: False. As much as I would love to see a Christie-style surge out of nowhere, I think Morgan is playing more out of necessity than anything else. Sinclair seems to be out of the door and with Mikey Johnston having a niggling injury and Daniel Arzani recovering long term, he is our only man to play there. His delivery is aimless for the most part, in a similar vain to Jonny Hayes. He looks busy but, if you actually look at the quality of his output, it is poor and he spends most of the time on the floor whenever a defender has the nerve to actually engage him. I wish him well but if we have any ambitions to move forward as a club, you don’t keep the likes of Morgan in and around the first team.
WALLACE: True. On Football Manager I always have a rule: Two wingers for each side then one that can play on both. We have our wingers for each side with now in Johnston, Forrest, Shved and Sinclair, meaning that Morgan is left. If a winger gets injured, that makes Morgan second choice on either side. He’s shown moments of class in a Celtic jersey and I believe there is a real player in there. The question is also there of whether or not Sinclair is good enough. This season we could see Morgan grabbing that second-choice spot on the left.
Verdict: True 1-3 False. While Stephen sees a potential backup in the young winger, it’s evident that there isn’t too much faith surrounding Lewis Morgan’s career at Celtic.
CELTIC WILL LOSE 6 OR LESS DOMESTIC GAMES THIS SEASON
COYNE: True. Even allowing for two cup exits that gives us four league defeats to consider. One defeat per round of games sounds about right. We were pretty poor for swathes of last season and still lost only five league games. A small improvement on that does not seem unreasonable.
KEARNEY: True. Lenny’s Invincibles. It’s happening.
MCGINLAY: True. Now I would not have been saying this at the back end of last season, however we seem fairly stable. El-Hamed has looked positive early on and with a hopeful centre defensive partnership of Ajer and Jullien we have 3 out of the 4 positions covered to be solid defensively. With KT’s departure, the links to Rico Henry of Brentford are something that excites me and is just the sort of replacement we need. He offers stability defensively whilst being a great outlet offensively and he is shown this ever since his debut for Walsall at the age of 17. With Christie and McGregor, we have top quality players who dictate everything that happens on the pitch and Ntcham being back in the frame can only add to that. I just don’t see anything in the SPFL that looks competent enough to harm us, bar potentially Hibernian in a one-off fixture.
WALLACE: True. We will lose 0, because we are the best.
Verdict: True 4-0 False. Given the 7-0 dismantling of St. Johnstone, this looks very plausible. There’s something that the bhoys want you to know…
If you have any statements that you’d like to put to our future panels, let us know in the comments below, on the Patreon app or alternatively on Twitter @90MinuteCynic or @SJRussell23. Thanks for reading.