Neil Lennon needs to work out a way to get the best from his top player Odsonne Edouard to secure Celtic success. There’s a lot to factor in to decide how to maximise Edouard’s undoubted abilities.
The first step in any plan was to retain Edouard as part of the squad after the summer transfer window closed. Fending off interest from other clubs and keeping the player happy and content to be at Celtic.
It looks as though there weren’t many actual offers with a single low ball approach from an unnamed German club now being revealed. And we know contract extension offers were made to the player but not taken up. Either way the main objective was achieved, Edouard is here.
But it’s as if a reset button has been pressed and focus immediately switches to the next window in January. If Celtic are still in line for success this season, it’s much more likely Edouard will see the season through. If the title race has slipped badly, then he or the club may decide an early exit is sensible. The player himself can be a major factor in whether the Hoops remain in the race or not, his goals could be critical.
That leaves a few questions on getting the best from Edouard for Lennon to resolve. Over at The Scotsman there are thoughts on how to achieve this. These are mine.
Firstly it’s the player himself, his health, fitness and where his mind is. We’ve seen stories of how Nir Bitton and Hatem Abd Elhamed have struggled physically with the coronavirus, the could take its toll on the recovery process for Edouard.
By all accounts he isn’t ready to play this week against AC Milan and he’s not quite been at full fitness for a few weeks following earlier injuries this season. Plus training time has been limited while in isolation. Can Lennon and Edouard find a path to getting back to full fitness, including some game time over the coming weeks?
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The fitness issues and Celtic’s season so far plus his whole career and next move are likely to play on his mind, hopefully with the summer window behind us, Edouard can put all that behind him, gaining encouragement from fitness and form improvement.
Lennon then needs to find a formation which suits Edouard and plays to his strengths. That may be simpler to achieve if other players around, like Leigh Griffiths, Albian Ajeti and maybe even Mikey Johnston, can all be fit and available too. Although time won’t be on Lennon’s side in terms of waiting for solutions. Is it right to revert to the lone striker or can success be found with the right mix of players for 3-5-2?
Edouard if and when fit and ready is the right choice for main striker. It will be important to build a team shape to support him, not stick him up front on an already built selection and formation.
It’s over to Lennon and Edouard as the main men to get this right.