St. Johnstone 0-6 Celtic: The Hoops show signs of dominance
Is it at all surprising that on the same weekend that Kris Boyd talked of a deep schism within the Celtic dressing room (h/t Daily Record), Brendan Rodgers’ men delivered a performance of the highest order? In fact, it was perhaps a performance that they’ve been threatening to unleash since August but never found the form to do so until now.
St. Johnstone simply had no answer for the pace, intelligence and understanding of the away side’s attack. Celtic’s first-half performance was by far their best of the season so far, with James Forrest unstoppable on the right-wing.
One might have been deemed a fool to suggest that the player could score four goals before half-time but Forrest played as a man possessed; a man hurt from his side’s poor showing against Red Bull Salzburg in the Europa League.
His first goal was fortuitous, capitalising on Zander Clark’s decent save to score an open goal but his next three were pure skill. He linked with playmaker Tom Rogic for the second and the third, with the Australian playing his partner through the St. Johnstone defence.
After that, Forrest gathered the ball beyond the halfway line and ran determinedly at the opposition defence for his fourth, driving infield and planting a simple left-footed shot into the corner of the net. Each time he celebrated by grabbing the Celtic crest upon his jersey in front of his adoring supporters, he looked like a vital player of this team.
After such a torrid half, manager Tommy Wright was left fuming since Danny Swanson saw red only three minutes into the second-half, swiping down the electrifying Forrest in a defying act against a player he couldn’t cope with.
The Hoops could have scored more goals against a depleted home side but Rodgers’ men somewhat relaxed proceedings and settled the game down. Their sixth and final goal didn’t arrive until the 84th minute, coming after some intricate link-up play between Mikael Lustig and Callum McGregor, leading to the latter slotting into an empty net to cap a fine result.
Harder games will await Celtic after the international break, with Neil Lennon’s high-flying Hibernian up next. As far as Wright is concerned, he still has his team above the relegation zone but his players seem to be lacking in confidence and this break should do St. Johnstone well to regroup and plan for the tough season ahead.
Brighton should seriously consider signing this exciting Scottish talent on a cut-price deal in January
Brighton should go all out to land Callum McGregor in January
A product of Celtic’s youth system, Mcgregor made his senior debut for the Scottish giants in 2014 and has established himself as a hot property in the Scottish Premiership. The 25-year-old has made a total of 186 appearances for the club across all competitions, finding the back of the net on 35 occasions. McGregor also spent time on loan at League One side Notts County in 2013/14, where he scored 14 goals.
Brighton have made a decent start to their Premier League campaign and the Seagulls currently sit 13th in the standings with 8 points from their first 8 games. The Seagulls took everyone by surprise when they beat Manchester United 3-2 in their second game but Hughton’s side has blown hot and cold since then.
Brighton made headlines in the transfer market by signing Iranian star Alireza Jahanbakhsh. However, the former AZ Alkmaar man is yet to make a significant impact.
Defender Lewis Dunk has strung together some consistent performances at the back and received a call-up to Gareth Southgate’s England side. Also, Anthony Knockaert and Solly March have been influential down the flanks while the 35-year-old Glenn Murray has proven that he is far from a spent force in the Premier League.
However, Brighton do not have the best scoring record in the Premier League, having scored only 9 goals so far. To be honest, most of the creative play has come from the wings and Hughton doesn’t have a versatile creative midfielder.
In Davy Propper and Beram Kayal, the Seagulls have two good quality central midfielders who can contribute to the build-up play in the attacking third but are not capable of sparking creativity.
Brighton need a versatile midfielder who is capable of playing in multiple positions in the midfield and Callum McGregor is the perfect choice.
McGregor, who has represented Scotland at all youth levels and the senior level, is primarily an attacking midfielder who is also capable of playing as a right midfielder and a central attacking midfielder.
Although he is often deployed in a No.10 role behind the striker, he can also play in a deep position due to his technical abilities and tactical awareness.
The 25-year-old has a sound technique which allows him to maintain good close control and drive forward with pace. He is a nimble-footed player who is capable of cutting inside from the right with his stronger left foot and doesn’t hesitate to test the goalkeeper with powerful and accurate shots.
McGregor is a good No.10 but struggles to get into the game at times. He is more comfortable in a deeper role from where he can dictate terms in the midfield with his neat and tidy passing.
Operating from a deeper role, not only does he link up the play efficiently with his teammates but also drives forward with pace and gets into the box to score goals. Furthermore, he is a two-footed player who is renowned as a distance shooter.
Read More:- 73 tackles and 60 interceptions – Brighton must do everything to hold onto this 27-year-old powerhouse
Hence, acquiring Callum McGregor’s services could potentially bolster Brighton’s forces significantly. It would also allow Solly March to operate from the flanks instead of playing as a No.10.
Furthermore, with McGregor in the team as a supporting playmaker, Hughton can utilize Jahanbakhsh in a supporting role behind Glenn Murray.
That said, McGregor is definitely an exciting proposition for the Seagulls and they should go all out to land him in January for what might be a cut-price deal.
This double treble-winning manager should be ideal to replace Rafa Benitez at Newcastle – Agreed?
Brendan Rodgers is the ideal successor to Rafael Benitez at Newcastle
According to the Mirror, Newcastle United are considering former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers as a replacement for Rafael Benitez, provided the Spaniard fails to get the team back to winning ways in the Premier League.
However, the fans sympathize with Benitez and believe that he has done a fairly good job, given that he has had to work under a lot of financial constraints. (h/t Mirror)
Benitez is currently in the final year of his contract at St. James’ Park and the 58-year-old is unwilling to sign an extension as he hasn’t received certain assurances. (h/t Mirror)
Benitez took charge of Newcastle in the latter half of the 2015/16 season when the Magpies were fighting to stay alive in the Premier League. Although Benitez did a good job at reassembling his unit, it wasn’t enough to avoid relegation. However, Newcastle did well under Benitez in the Championship and earned promotion back to the top flight after a year’s absence.
Things have gone horribly wrong for the Magpies this season, however, and Benitez’s men are currently in the relegation zone with only two points so far. Goalless draws against Crystal Palace and Cardiff City have been Newcastle’s best results so far. They could have had their first win of the season against Manchester United had they not collapsed in the last 20 minutes.
Benitez has every right to argue that five out of the six losses came against teams in the top six. However, the upcoming fixtures against Brighton, Southampton and Watford might go a long way in deciding his fate at the club.
Now, Benitez’s ultra-defensive tactics haven’t brought the best out the team. As a matter of fact, Newcastle had only 19% of the possession against Chelsea and 21% against Manchester City. They allowed the opposition to pass the ball around with ease and dictate the proceedings.
The Magpies have been guilty of sitting way too deep inside their own half and haven’t shown any intention of winning the ball back. Consequently, there has been no supply from the midfield, leaving the attackers to feed on scraps.
Quite surprisingly, Benitez hasn’t made any effort to change the shape of his team and switch formations. He has seemed pretty much married to either a 4-4-1-1 or a 5-4-1 which hasn’t done any good so far.
Brendan Rodgers, on the other hand, has tasted grand success in the Scottish Premiership with Celtic. Following his appointment in 2016, the 45-year-old has guided Celtic to back-to-back Scottish Premiership titles. He won the award for the Scottish Premiership Manager of the Season in 2016/17.
Rodgers had tasted considerable success in the Premier League as well with Swansea City and Liverpool. He was Swansea’s manager when they won the Championship play-offs in 2010/11, becoming the first-ever Wales-based team to secure promotion to the Premier League. He had some lean patches in his time at Liverpool but never hesitated to change things and always showed the intent to force the outcome.
Read More:- Go for it Benitez – Signing this €15million superstar is definitely the need of the hour for Newcastle United
Rodgers usually adopts a free-flowing possession-based style football and defensively, his team thrives while pressurizing the opposition. This should work in favour of Newcastle as he could change the formation and the tactics to allow the team to hold on to the ball for longer periods.
Rafael Benitez seems to be living on borrowed time but the management will probably wait for another two or three games and then assess his position. If he fails to get the campaign back on track, they will be forced to pull the trigger sooner or later.
This 42-goal attacker could be exactly what Celtic are missing right now
Why Celtic must make a January swoop for Richmond Boakye
According to the Scotsman, Celtic scouts were present during the Champions League tie between Red Star Belgrade and Napoli. It is still a mystery as to whom exactly they were scouting but there is a possibility that Celtic were scouting Red Star Belgrade star Richmond Boakye.
Celtic have made a shaky start to the new Scottish Premiership season and currently sit third in the table, three points behind table-toppers Hearts. One of the Hoops’ biggest problems has been a significant lack of goals so far this season.
Prior to the 6-0 win against St. Johnstone, Brendan Rodgers’ boys had scored just seven goals in seven league games, which does suggest a lack of attacking firepower in the squad. The loss of Moussa Dembele on transfer deadline day has left Celtic light up top, with Odsonne Edouard and Leigh Griffiths being the only senior strikers.
Edouard is Celtic’s record signing but the young striker has failed to replicate his form from last season, with injuries also hampering his progress. Griffiths has delivered the goods whenever called upon but Rodgers simply cannot rely on a single centre-forward to shoulder the responsibility of scoring goals.
Hence, Rodgers must prioritize signing a striker in January and he could do a wonderful job by landing Richmond Boakye.
Boakye, 25, has scored 42 goals in 51 appearances for Red Star Belgrade over two spells. Despite being just 25, he has featured for eight clubs in China, Serbia, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.
As far as his playing style is concerned, Boakye is a strong and powerful centre-forward, blessed with explosive pace, agility and good technique. His pace and physique would make him a handful for defenders in the Scottish Premiership, whilst his high work-rate makes him an ideal fit for Rodgers’ style of play at Parkhead.
Apart from being a fearsome player in the air, the Ghanaian is a top predator with intelligent movement. Boakye is a clinical finisher in front of the goal and his ability to hold up play adds more value under his banner.
Boakye’s potential arrival could freshen up Celtic’s squad and make them a dangerous force going forward. The Ghanaian forward would add quality as well as depth and considering his age, he should be able to adapt to the Scottish Premiership.
Read more: Great job Rodgers – Celtic have completed a masterstroke by tying down this 57-goal superstar to a new contract
All in all, the 25-year-old has all the attributes to become a smash hit under Rodgers at Celtic.
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