What is the right tactical approach for Celtic Park?

Article by Richard Fillingham

I must admit, even with all my years experience of Rangers going to play in that hate-filled putrid atmosphere at Celtic Park, I am still not sure which way I want the Teddy Bears’ to play. Should they play a more defensive line-up for the first 60 minutes of the game? Playing a harder to beat X1 could be changed to a more attacking style if we are behind in the match with 20 or 30 minutes to go. If we need to attack more to gain a draw or perhaps just go for the win and all 3 points.

Let me explain what Walter Smith used to do at Celtic Park and he had more successes than any of the modern managers. He played very tightly by trying to have as many people in his side who could win the ball and then pass it. You have 52,000 Celtic fans spilling hatred all over the park and putting massive pressure on referee Willie Collum, who is probably on a hiding to nothing from both sets of fans. Refs are only human and I believe they try to remain impartial but unfortunately, they usually make mistakes. Celtic have an advantage with free kicks given in dangerous areas around the box, which undoubtedly adds to pressure on the Rangers defence.

If Rangers decide on playing a flexible 4 – 2 – 3 – 1 formation, this is the team I would pick and why I have gone for these 11 players.

Hodson, Kiernan, Senderos, Wallace (c)
                  Rossiter Barton
     Tavernier, Waghorn, Halliday

By picking Hodson, the Northern Irish right back, it gives you a bit of stability at the back as he will stay there at all times to make sure that the back four are safer in numbers. Tavernier will be ahead of him, so they can both deal with Sinclair who is fast and a handful. If we play Tavernier at right back, Celtic will simply give Sinclair the ball when Tavernier is caught out of position a – a bit like football suicide! By playing Wallace at left back and Halliday ahead of him in left midfield, this gives Wallace the chance to bomb forward when the occasion is right and Halliday tucks in behind him to offer protection in case he loses the ball. Personally, I have gone for Kiernan and Senderos as the two centre backs, because I believe that Kiernan is a better tackler than Wilson and we need the height of 6’ 3” Senderos.

If you are playing two holding midfield players, Rossiter is a great young player with a bright future and fully deserves to keep his place in the side, and the other is Barton, who I hope will shine in this challenging Old Firm match. These are the games he joined the Ibrox side for!

I think we need Tavernier in the team as the right wing back where he has the freedom to drive forward at every opportunity and also for his ability for scoring those special free kicks. I think we have to change from our predictable line-up to surprise and confuse this high-flying Celtic team. I want to make Rangers harder to beat by playing Waghorn in the engine room, as I think central midfield will end up being his best position. He has the talent to see and make a pass and is a particularly strong tackler and is not scared to get his sturdy frame stuck in to anybody during a match and he can also score goals by coming forward at the right times. With Halliday playing a very disciplined role down the left of midfield, he is vital to Wallace getting down the wing at every opportunity.

It might seem too defensive leaving Garner leading the line on his own, but we
have players running off the ball quickly to add to his attacking prowess and it gives the Celtic defenders nobody to man mark which will confuse them.

If playing a flexible 3 – 3 – 3 – 1 formation, this is the team I would pick.

Kiernan, Sendoras, Wilson or Hill (as the back three, to give added protection)
Tavernier, Barton, Wallace (with one holding player and two wing backs)
Waghorn, Halliday, Miller (all getting forward whenever they can)
Garner (leading the line on his own, with help pouring forward when we have the ball).

If playing a defensive 5 – 3 – 2 formation, this is the team I would pick.

Tavernier, Kiernan, Sendoras, Wilson, Wallace
                   Waghorn, Barton, Halliday,
                              Garner, Miller

I would pick this team in a 3 – 5 – 1 – 1 formation.

                   Kiernan, Sendoras, Wilson,
Tavernier, Waghorn, Barton, Halliday, Wallace

You have options and a bit of dig, muscle and physical strength but it doesn’t give you the flair players like Barrie McKay, Harry Forrester, Michael O’Halloran, Josh Windass or Niko Kranjcar etc but it does give Rangers a great substitute bench.

What do you think of Richard’s tactical suggestions?


  1. Like most of Richards stuff it's a pile of crap.

    No matter what team or formation is put out be prepared for a hiding.

    Celtic took 5 off the Israeli team at Parkhead and their defence has a much better record than ours against stronger opposition…….Eg. no goals conceded in 180 minutes against Olympiakos.
    Saturday will be a hard shift, given that apart from Wallace and Miller not another player has any idea why they are walking into……the atmosphere will be red hot and Barton is a certainty to get sent off as he try to walk the walk.
    If this happens in the first half we will get slaughtered and the knives will be out for both King and Warburton as the league challenge is dead before the middle of September and financially they are in a different league.

    Where will the money come from to keep the lights on after Xmas?

    • holy #### mate glad you DONT SPEAK FOR ME …… have faith just hope warbs does pull something out the hat they are not unbeatable defo pressure on them all of those formations are feesable just wish we could accommodate forrester more and moh needs games

    • I feel so sorry for you, there is nothing in this world that could persuade me to link the words Celtic and we. Nothing. I wouldn't do it to try and wind up Septic fans, I wouldn't do it for money. I wouldn't do it.
      But you are so lonely waiting for the priest to visit that you come onto this site and pretend to be a Rangers fan.
      Please seek help, go to a Social Worker, a teacher, a policeman, anybody. Get help. Nobody blames you for being a septic fan, it is just your lot in life. But you can be helped. i know some Celtic fans(admittedly a minority) who have friends. You should aspire to this.
      Good luck, timmy

  2. Warbs won't change too much… he never does. He will play 4-3-3 and will be thinking attack is the best form of defence. I'd like to see us have a real go with:

    Tavernier, Senderos, Wilson, Wallace
    Forrester, Barton, Windass
    O'Halloran, Miller, McKay

    Subs after 60'

    Waghorn – O'Halloran
    Garner – Miller

    Final Sub

    Kranjcar/Halliday/Holt – Windass

  3. TORA TORA TORA to the uneducated septic scum ATTACK ATTACK ATTACK fuck them their defence is as bad as ours lets get right into them no surrender is our cry as we shit all over them

    • Correct. Problem this season is team have sat off Celtic and gave them the initiative. St Johnstone went for them late on and nearly rescued the game from 3 down. The Israelis did the same only to then seem happy to take away a 3 2 defeat again handing back initiative. Attack from start to finish Saturday and there could be a fair few goals to be had. Go out cautious giving Celtic the initiative and they could do untold damage. Optimism there in the fact it looks very likely Celtic will rest or certainly not risk Griffits and Rogic and maybe a couple of others ahead of Champions League.

    • Yep, that's right mate Celtic have a big match on Tuesday, yours is tomorrow, how does it feel to be back in the big time?

      Do you realise that if results go the wrong way for you at the weekend you will drop to 5th with Aberdeen away to follow?

    • Anon, as for your big match on Tuesday, I see the bookies have made Celtic favourites of all the CL teams to lose all 6 group games!

  4. 4-1-3-1-1. Gilks
    Senderos. Wilson-(if fit)
    Hodson. Wallace.
    Tavenier Halliday


  5. Celtic have had 0 clean sheets in competitive matches except part timers Lincoln Red Imps at home (unless I'm mistaken) they were totally outplayed when the pressure was on against Hapoel and the likes of Roberts didn't turn up last time when the pressure was on in the semi. Stop reading the press, celtic have had 3 good games, they've struggled in europe against teams from the mecca of football kazakhstan!!! they are 1 good player better off from last season, a 35 yo defender and dembele who looks average so far.

    Just cos the daily record thinks they're awesome doesn't me it so.

    Scott Brown hasn't turned up in 12 months.

    Hopefully Same as last time, play possession footbal, press up the park and shock them like we did at hampden.

    • Beat Motherwell 5-0 I believe and those pre-season CL qualifiers are a killer for any team starting their season, albeit rangers wouldn't know about that.
      How many clean sheets have rangers had excluding playing part timers?
      Celtic have had injuries to 4 CH's as well as Tierney but they are getting stronger each game and the 35 yo is class.

    • The team from Kasahkstan went on to win away from home against Bate Borisov in the Europa Cup. ……….as you are probably ignorant of what goes on in the CL these days, Bate have a CL pedigree over the last few years.

  6. We have been failing in the midfield so that's where we need be strongest we also need our chs to keep deep and face to ball at all times not bother feeding midfield or wings instead Barton should come collect and feed the play the way wee Barry used to,I don't see him changing formation of 433 ,bt id favour 442, fody ,Hodgson,senderos,Wilson,Wallace,tav,holt,Barton,windasswaghorn,garner ,with waghorn playing his usual game on right linking with tav, like to see windas doing same wit windass

  7. with clint and danny at the back we have no one to fear wouldnt play senoros to slow for me can see us winning 3-0 or more so exited cant sleep

  8. Magic hat will stick to is plan A as he stated
    There is no plan B only plan A done better
    So it's a defo 4-3-3
    Holt and Wilson available just confirmed but only as bit part players so he will go with
    Tav Kernan senderos Wallace
    Windass Barton Halliday
    Wagghorn Kenny and either Barry/ Harry

    Niko MOH garner on at 60min Rossiter Wilson other subs

  9. So many computations now that nearly everyone back in for contention. Maybe a tweak but probably go with a defined play familiar to everyone. We want it real bad and I think we will see that attitude from the first kick of the ball. Rangers for the win. 3-0.

  10. Unfortunately i think it's going to be a scoring draw if not it will be a 2-1 either team it will be very close game

  11. Couldn't have been much closer. Called that wan right. Maybe another close one next week against Aberdeen……Assume the position…..ha ha…ha ha….ha ha

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