Callum McGregor credits change to back four against AC Milan with "understanding their jobs" better

Celtic midfielder Callum McGregor admitted a “simplified” shape to the team in the second half against AC Milan allowed Neil Lennon’s men to feel more comfortable in their skins, despite them slumping to a 3-1 defeat in their Europa League opener.

Callum McGregor wants Celtic to be flexible to switch systems in games following formation change against AC Milan (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Callum McGregor wants Celtic to be flexible to switch systems in games following formation change against AC Milan (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

The 3-5-2 formation was jettisoned as Lennon switched to a back four following the loss of two first-half goals. And though the Scottish champions could not get back on terms despite pulling a goal back through a Mohamed Elyounoussi header, they were able to take the game to their opponents in a more cohesive and defensively manner than they had displayed both in the opening 45 minutes, and in capitulating against Rangers at the weekend.

“Obviously it is disappointing to lose 3-1 at home but performance-wise we were miles better. There was a lot more intensity to our play, the boys pressed the game well, particularly in the second-half,” said McGregor, who took the armband when Scott Brown was withdrawn in th 66th minute.

Celtic: Get the latest team news, match previews and reports

Celtic: Get the latest team news, match previews and reports

“We were right on the front foot. With 15 minutes to go we looked like we were going to get the equaliser. Their third goal, the breakaway one, can happen when you are chasing. We won’t think about that too much. We have to take the positives from it.

“[With the back four] we probably looked a lot more comfortable. It was a simplified shape, if you will. Everybody understands their job, exactly when to press, when not to press. Obviously you have an extra body middle to front so it gives you another line to pass when you are trying to build the game as well. Everybody could see how many times we managed to get through their press in the second-half and into the final third after two or three passes, which was excellent. We need to have that flexibility, to change in game from a four to a three.

“We need to have that flexibility going forward with the players we have. The situation is always changing and your personnel can change from week to week. It is important you have that flexibility with the shape.”

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.