Neil Lennon’s 2020 vision for Celtic was to outscore the opposition.
His decision to revert to two men – Odsonne Edouard and Leigh Griffiths – up front has meant double trouble for their top-tier rivals.
After ending 2019 with a home defeat by Rangers, Lennon decided to ditch the 4-2-3-1 formation preferred by his predecessor, Brendan Rodgers.
His 3-5-2 line-up has amounted to a perfect 10, firing the Hoops into pole position in the Premiership, 13 points and 25 goals ahead of second-placed Rangers, who have a game in hand.
Since returning from the winter break, Lennon’s men have racked up 40 goals from just 13 domestic matches.
The Light Blues, by contrast, have scored 17 times from the same number of games.
The return to the starting XI for Griffiths has, of course, been pivotal.
Lennon admitted: “We’ve just had to be really patient with him, while he had to knuckle down and show the right desire.
“He really is a natural-born goalscorer and you can’t buy that.
“I also thought the new formation would suit us, and it’s brought the best out of Odsonne Edouard as well.
“He’s a top, top player, and having Leigh alongside him has taken a little bit of the wåorkload off him.
“I’m sure, once he fully matures physically, he’ll be a proper No.9 in his own right.
“He’s only just turned 22, and there’s growth still to come in him, so he’ll be the main striker during his peak years. He and Leigh have done all right together.
“But you tend to find that clever players will be on the same wavelength.
“It’s something you can’t coach. They’re linking up by making split-second decisions on the pitch and that is not something I would take credit for.
“We do work on combinations but, ultimately, it’s down to them.
“Griffiths is a bit of an enigma but he’s a goalscorer and he’s always a threat.
“On top of that, our midfield is as good as anyone’s, with a combination of Scott Brown, Callum McGregor, Ryan Christie, Tom Rogic, Olivier Ntcham and Nir Bitton.
“I like the formation – I like it because it works!
“But you have to roll the dice sometimes. It wasn’t simply a case of saying: ‘We’ll give 3-5-2 a go today’. We put a lot of work into it.”
There’s little new in football and, as a player, Lennon enjoyed great success with 3-5-2 under Martin O’Neill at Leicester City and then Celtic.
“That entered into my thinking, plus the lads had tried it a few times under Brendan,” he admitted.
“I think Brendan had it in mind to use Odsonne alongside Moussa Dembele up top, and he did it a couple of times before Dembele left.
“It’s not all 4-3-3 nowadays.”
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