Quick links

Celtic

Neil Lennon dropped Boli Bolingoli to fit Olivier Ntcham into the team

Neil Lennon, head coach of CFR Cluj, in action during the game  during the UEFA Champions League 2019

The Celtic manager explained his team selection prior to the match with CFR Cluj.

Celtic Manager Neil Lennon  is seen  during the UEFA Champions League, third qualifying round, second leg match between Celtic and CFR Cluj at Celtic Park on August 13, 2019 in Glasgow,...

Celtic boss Neil Lennon explained to BBC Radio Scotland that he dropped Boli Bolingoli for Tuesday night's clash at home to CFR Cluj so he could fit Olivier Ntcham into the team.

Lennon controversially moved Callum McGregor out of the midfield to the left-back area to accommodate the Frenchman, who has been in sparkling form of late.

Subscribe

Not only did the tactical switch rob Celtic of their midfield drive, but it left them exposed on the left flank defensively.

It was also McGregor who was beaten to a header for Cluj's opening goal.

 

Prior to the European defeat, Lennon said of the decision to BBC Scotland: "I just wanted to get Ntcham into the team. The more technicians in the team, the better.

"We've got good experience in the team tonight and we're going to need that."

The desire to bring Ntcham into the team is understandable. The 23-year-old has been excellent recently, scoring once and assisting three times at the start of the season.

However, the circumstances around his selection are bizarre.

If Lennon was so intent on adding Ntcham into the game, why not replace Scott Brown or alter the formation?

McGregor has been the beating heart of the Hoops midfield for a number of years now and removing him from that playmaking spot had a notable impact on the way the home side played.

Callum McGregor of Celtic FC in action against Luis Coimbra Aurelio of CFR Cluj  during the UEFA Champions League 2019

Lennon admitted in his post-match interview the side had 'no tempo' in the first half. Considering it's McGregor who often sets the tempo, that's no surprise.

Bolingoli is just beginning his Celtic career and although he has had lapses in his first handful of matches, that he was seen as such a big risk in the most important game of the club's season so far must be worrying for supporters.

The decision was curious even before kick-off, but in hindsight looks like a massive blunder on Lennon's part and the reasons for that blunder raise more questions than answers.

Have something to tell us about this article?

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch