Brendan Rodgers Needs to Overhaul Celtic Central Midfield

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 19: Lars Stindl of Borussia Monchengladbach battles with Scott Brown and Scott Sinclair of Celtic during the UEFA Champions League match between Celtic FC and VfL Borussia Moenchengladbach at Celtic Park on October 19, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jan Kruger - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 19: Lars Stindl of Borussia Monchengladbach battles with Scott Brown and Scott Sinclair of Celtic during the UEFA Champions League match between Celtic FC and VfL Borussia Moenchengladbach at Celtic Park on October 19, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jan Kruger - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images) /
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In the wake of Celtic’s 2-0 defeat at the hands of Borussia Monchengladbach, plenty of blame was heaped on defender Kolo Toure. Most of it was rightfully deserved, but the reality of the game is that there were far more pressing issues than a few mistakes made by one player.

A simple watching of the game had plenty of people asking “where was Scott Brown?”

Many people were left wondering how Brown and Nir Bitton were the first-choice pairing in the middle of the park for Celtic. After all, this pairing was largely invisible and lacking in creativity or quality linking play for large parts of the Gladbach match.

That performance made it abundantly clear that Celtic needs more in in central midfield if it wants to compete on the European stage.

Scott Brown has been the heart and soul of Celtic, before and during his time as captain. No one should forget the dedication to club and country.

However, the harsh reality of Brown’s declining level of play was never more evident than what took place on Wednesday night.

Every team needs a player like Brown. You know, a player not afraid to get stuck in and be an aggitator of sorts. That player just usually happens to be one that can be a pain in the butt while also being pacy and able to hold the ball.

On Wednesday night, Brown was largely invisible and was often outworked and out-paced to balls in the middle of the park.

Celtic had its issues getting forward at times, but when it did it lacked the ability to get enough numbers in the box to be truly dangerous against a packed-in defense.

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A way around that is to move quicker up the middle of the park, especially with Rodgers’ favored 4-2-3-1 formation.

The two in the back have to be the catalysts for everything going forward. Too often we saw a large gap in the middle of the park, and that is down to the pace and structure created by Bitton and Brown.

Credit also needs to go to the trio Cristoph Kramer, Tobias Strobl and Lars Stindl from Gladbach. That group had an incredible match, but also managed to expose the biggest issue for Celtic if they want to be truly competitive on the European stage.

Bitton and Brown are quality enough to get Celtic through the SPFL season, but they aren’t quality enough anymore to help this team against the best of Europe.

Now, this isn’t an indictment of Rodgers, but rather a sad reality of the state of Celtic’s roster. If ever there is a position that needs strengthening, it is in the center of the park.

Rodgers attempted to get some of that help, going in after Everton’s James McCarthy and rumored interest in Joe Allen as well. However, neither deal was able to get done, as the Blue side of Liverpool didn’t want to part with McCarthy

That means it will be a few more months before Rodgers can try again, or depending on the European hopes (which seem slim after Wednesday’s defeat), wait until the end of the season.

Either way, it appears Rodgers knows the issues afoot in his squad and will look to strengthen them in due time. Until then, games like Wednesday’s are likely to continue against good clubs.