How the return of inverted fullbacks has benefitted Taylor & McGregor

The last few weeks have seen the steady reintroduction of the inverted full-back system, one which has seen not just an all-round improvement in the team’s performances on the park but has also raised the levels of individuals.

Some of the biggest beneficiaries of this have been Greg Taylor and the Celtic captain Callum McGregor.

Both players had seen sloppy starts to the season, with some calls for the pair to be dropped even arising. However, in recent weeks the pair have been hitting form, with McGregor putting in a top performance at Ibrox against Rangers and Taylor most recently being awarded the player-of-the-match against Livingston at the Tony Macaroni Arena at the weekend.

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Here are a few ways in which a simple tactical tweak from Brendan Rodgers has led to Callum McGregor and Greg Taylor getting back to their best:

Playing to Taylor’s strengths

Taylor struggled in the early stages of his Celtic career as he was being encouraged to hit the byline as a traditional overlapping full-back. With his lack of pace and not having the physical attributes to play that role, Taylor didn’t develop well in that role.

It wasn’t until Ange Postecoglou came in and demanded the full-back to show off a more technical side to his game that we saw the best of the former Kilmarnock man. Taylor’s slick passing and knack for picking up pockets of space have been vital in driving Celtic forward, with his performance at the weekend being the clearest evidence of that.


Stress off of the captain’s shoulders

One of the main reasons that Callum McGregor struggled in the early stages of this season was that he was being targeted, doubled-up on and constantly marked by opposition teams. Games against Aberdeen at Pittodrie and Kilmarnock at Rugby Park in particular were the clearest examples of this as the Killie midfield, especially, completely nullified McGregor’s game and didn’t allow him to get involved in the match at all.

It seemed as though he was still instinctively expecting a full-back to be there behind him providing more defensive cover, and Rodgers has addressed that with the steady reintroduction of the inverted full-back system.

McGregor now has Taylor as not just an extra defensive option to prevent opposition counter-attacks and overloads, but also as a passing option which has weeded out a lot of the errors we were seeing in his game in the first few matches of the domestic season.



Beneficial in Europe

A final benefit that the reintroduction of the inverted full-back system should bring to the Celtic team is in the Champions League.

Fans were surprised to see Celtic playing out from the back in Rotterdam as that was the key to our demise during Rodgers’ first crack at the Champions League, however, things are different this time around.

Taylor coming inside allows another passing option for Celtic’s defenders as the side looks to progress the ball through to the midfielders, which is arguably the strongest and most creative part of the team. This is where most of Celtic’s chances in Europe will come from, with someone like Reo Hatate there who isn’t afraid to take the risks required to carve out the high-quality chances that will win games at that level.

It doesn’t just relieve stress off the Celtic defence, but it helps the transition to attack quicker as well.


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