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Versatility key to new signings?

July 14, 2010

“…he’s a good size…he can play a bit in a number of positions.”

– Neil Lennon on new signing Charlie Mulgrew.

With the exception of Efrain Juarez – though only the part about his size – the above quote could be applied to all of our new signings.

The first through the door was the returning Charlie Mulgrew. He has mostly played at left back but has been deployed in a variety of other positions including centre-back – most likely for his size (6ft3 and 13st.) – and his quality on the ball has allowed him to play left or central midfield at times. Don’t be surprised to see him feature frequently in midfield where his delivery – probably his best asset – can be utilised from closer to goal. As Lennon states, “…he’s got a beautiful left foot.”

This line of thinking saw West Brom’s Chris Brunt move from left-back to left-wing thanks to our old friend, Tony Mowbray. The fact that Charlie has taken the number 21, rather than the vacant number 3, also suggests that there is another player lined up to be the primary left-back.

This video illustrates Mulgrew’s quality:

Versatility has always been useful, though particularly in the modern game where players are needing to be more and more mult-faceted.

Another who fits that requirement is signing number two, Cha Du-Ri. Earlier in his career he was a striker but has had spells as a winger and now plays at right back/wing-back. At 6ft he’s not particularly tall (though hardly short either) but he is well built and so still fits Lennon’s apparent template. Pierre Littbarski recently said of him,

“He is really fast and gets past players, so he is most definitely an attacking right-back that you will see getting up and down the pitch. Trust me, this guy has fantastic physical capabilities and can run all day.”

The video below is example of Cha Du-Ri’s more attacking capabilities. It remains to be seen whether he regularly displays this kind of quality, but it’s a great goal so, enjoy:

Signing number 3 is Joe Ledley. Another 6 footer so again not especially tall though definitely not short, Joe has a physical presence with it – when looking at him one can see why English Premiership clubs such as Stoke were interested as physically, he has the look of a Premiership player about him. He has played a number of positions – mostly left or centre midfield, though also left-back – and seems equally comfortable being asked to carry out defensive or offensive duties.

Interestingly, like Mulgrew, he is left footed. In recent years we have perhaps lacked left footed options (particularly last season) and Lennon is moving quickly to address this problem. With a first choice left-back possibly on the way we will suddenly have gone from being in need to being well stocked in that department.

Though not complete yet, it’s almost certain that Efrain Juarez will become Lennon’s fourth new signing. He is the anomaly to the template at only 5ft7 and not particularly well built with it but he makes up for it with aggression, high work rate and a good burst of pace and as Lennon says, “He is a hardy little guy, too, who can put his foot in. You have to look at that in Scottish football.” He is also very comfortable on the ball – he had to be to play for Javier Aguirre’s technical and exciting Mexico side – and again can be used in a variety of positions. Mostly used as a right-back but appeared as an almost ‘box-to-box’ midfielder in the World Cup, providing driving runs from midfield. A decent dribbler too, he could be used one the wing.

From the look of the signings so far, don’t expect to see us being such a ‘soft touch’ in the coming season. These players along with the likes of Hooiveld, Brown and a motivated Fortuné (see most recent Rangers game) won’t allow that to happen and they could be joined by others of similar ilk – “We’ve got a lot of players who are nice on the ball, but I want players who have a little more dig as well,” says Neil Lennon.

The versatility of the signings so far could also allow more flexibility in our tactics than we have seen in recent seasons. As the World Cup has demonstrated, this is the way forward, particularly when playing teams with better individuals which could be the case in the Champions or Europa League.

How could they lineup? This will be covered in a new article.

And just because it’s worth a look, a wee song for one of our new bhoys,

After this article was published, there was a good piece on Efrain Juarez. See it here for a more detailed profile of him.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. michael g permalink
    July 15, 2010 11:49 am

    nice start. look forward to the next one

    • July 15, 2010 11:50 am

      Thanks and welcome to the site. There’ll be plenty more to come soon.

  2. esteban permalink
    July 15, 2010 1:03 pm

    Great to see a blog concentrating on the tactical side of things at Celtic! Keep up the good work!

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