What shape will he use?
While Brendan Rodgers’ philosophy on the game is fairly well established, he is not known for being dogmatic in his use of a particular formation. Instead he looks to fit the individual players into a system that suits their own abilities whilst also allowing him to implement his style of play.
In his time at Swansea and Liverpool, Rodgers used variations on 4-5-1, 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3, 3-5-2, 3-6-1 and a 4-4-2 diamond. The question to be answered is which of the players will he shape the system around. Will he use highly positioned direct wingers like Roberts and Forrest as he did with Dyer and Sinclair at Swansea? Will he use a system that allows for Dembele and Griffiths to play as a 2, in the same way he did with Suarez and Sturridge? Or will he look to fit as many of the talented central midfielders at his disposal into the team, as he did with Allen, Henderson, Can, Lallana, Coutinho, Firmino and more? Rodgers can’t say he has a squad lacking in quality, especially for the level required, the only question is how he use that at his disposal to build his Celtic team.
How will he solve the issues the team had under Deila?
While I will always hold the belief that the criticism of Ronny Deila was, in most cases, over the top, there were undoubted problems. If you follow me on twitter, or have read my previous writing you will know my views in this regard. Particularly, the key issue on the field under Deila was the structure of the team when they had the ball, which crippled the team’s possession game against any opposition with a solid mid-high pressing game, and also left the team vulnerable to counter attacks.
Rodgers has openly spoken about the importance of being good in possession and being able to recover the ball as quickly as possible upon it being lost. If Celtic are able to be successful under the new manager and adopt his style of play quickly and effectively, then the structure and positioning is a particular issue that he must look to address.
What has he learned in his months off?
Despite the high level at which Rodgers has previously worked, he, like almost all managers, has weaknesses and flaws. Known for his attacking, possession based style of play, Rodgers’ teams have tended to be weaker in defensive areas, often struggling with principles such as maintaining compactness. Additionally, his teams have been known to have issues at times with transitions and his development skills on an individual level have not been as impressive with defensive talent as it has with more attack minded players.
After his departure from Liverpool, Rodgers had his first spell out of management in over five years. It will be interesting to see which, if any, of these areas Rodgers has looked to develop his understanding and ability in over the past 9 months.
How does he accomodate Dembele and Griffiths?
The signing of Moussa Dembele from Fulham, which has been recognized as somewhat of a coup considering the other options the player had, has immediately posed an interesting question of the manager. As a man who is rather strongly against a flat 4-4-2, how does he accomodate 2 top strikers.
We can learn a lot from his time at Liverpool when he faced a similar conundrum with the partnership of Suarez and Sturridge. With these 2 players at his disposal he used systems such as 3-5-2 and 4-4-2 diamond in order to maintain numerical superiority in the middle as well as play with two strikers, he also used both players as wide forwards in his preferred 4-3-3 at times, often as a tactical ploy for an individual game rather than a long term solution. The way in which Rodgers approaches the situation with Dembele in Griffiths is likely to have a significant impact on what we come to recognise as a Brendan Rodgers Celtic team.
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