Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers was delighted with the all-round game of Kyogo Furuhashi in their opening league win after encouraging the forward to bring a new tactical element to his game.
The Japan striker hit his first goal of the season in a 4-2 cinch Premiership victory against Ross County in typical fashion, stretching the visiting defence before sweeping home Liel Abada’s low cross first time after Celtic caught their opponents out.
Furuhashi hit 34 goals for Celtic last season and was usually found playing on the shoulder of the last defender and often beyond the opposition defence in an offside position.
— Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) August 6, 2023
But Rodgers has asked him to drop deeper at times and the move paid off on several occasions against County.
Furuhashi played a one-two with Matt O’Riley on the edge of the box before the midfielder got to the byline and crossed for David Turnbull to hit his second goal of the game.
The 28-year-old dropped off to set up O’Riley to score and also played Turnbull through before the former Motherwell man forced a double stop from Ross Laidlaw.
Rodgers said: “I just think it’s development of his game. He is clearly a player on the last line, his movement is fantastic, he gets across the first post really well.
“But it’s finding different solutions for the team, so the opposition have something different to think about.
“We have great speed in the wide areas; it’s always about getting the numbers inside, so when he drops short he can link the game really well and then still has the speed to get beyond. I thought he was excellent.”
There was plenty of encouragement for County manager Malky Mackay with his side creating several early chances and then refusing to capitulate after going three down before the interval.
Jordan White and James Brown were on target in the second half and Mackay was particularly happy with the latter’s debut performance.
“I thought Jim Brown, my right-back, was sensational,” Mackay said.
“We brought him from Blackburn and my challenge to him was to get into the Republic of Ireland team. He was captain of Drogheda and he went to Blackburn.
“I said to him to come up here and play in the Premiership and play against the best there is here. Jamie McGrath did it last year and got into the Republic of Ireland team.
“Jim plays like that week in, week out and he’ll be chapping on the door. I’m not trying to pick anybody’s team – but he’ll be a good player if he keeps playing like that.
“I thought he was sensational against a really good player in (Daizen) Maeda.”