The two wonderfully-timed Celtic boosts in win over St Mirren

By Euan Davidson

March 3, 2022

At half-time between Celtic and St Mirren, it didn’t feel as if we would be discussing the word “luxury”. Two second half goals and two mightily encouraging substitute appearances later, we can do just that.

What a luxury it is, that Celtic could bring on Yosuke Ideguchi and Karamoko Dembele in a crucial win against St Mirren. The former, Ideguchi, looked sharp when he came on after a lay-off caused by some agricultural defending in Alloa.

Karamoko, meanwhile, has been a longer concern. The sparky young winger was injured against Bristol City in pre-season [Scotsman], just when he was starting to enjoy his football again, and show real promise. He finished last season strongly, scoring against St Johnstone and generally showing the quality we’ve known him to have.

Photo by Kaz Photography/Getty Images

Celtic weren’t exactly in cigars territory last night. Bringing on the defensive midfielder and the winger, though, holds real significance. We’re coming to a part of a season when Celtic will need all the weapons in the arsenal, and tactical innovation may be required on the fly.

Ideguchi and Dembele both give Ange options. The Japanese midfielder can change the dynamic of the midfield. More mobile than McCarthy or Bitton, his low centre of gravity and clinical short passing are a real bonus. That control of tempo can provide attacking opportunities for McGregor, and his ability to win the ball back is good news for the likes of O’Riley, Rogic or Hatate.

Karamoko Dembele, meanwhile, is an utterly fearless winger, who showed adeptness at getting into more central areas off the ball last night. His was a brief cameo, with a ridiculous yellow card. But in the wider context, it was meaningful.

Celtic 2-0 St. Mirren | LIVE Reaction

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Ange Postecoglou deserves praise for his Celtic subs against St Mirren

The Celtic boss made it clear in the first half of the season that the squad just wasn’t big enough.

A lot of the players were running on fumes, injuries piled up, and though we were picking up results, the demands on the players were significant.

So, being able to welcome guys like Ideguchi and Dembele back into the first-team for Celtic against St Mirren is no small thing. Ditto Albian Ajeti, on the bench last night. He didn’t come on, but he was at least an option off the bench, and that’s something Celtic have sorely needed.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

With a title race on, versatility and having options is absolutely crucial. Celtic just didn’t have that last season. The squad building in such a short space of time has been remarkable, and that’s shown in the substitutions Ange Postecoglou was able to make.

Tom Rogic, often a starter for Ange this season, came on to provide some attacking thrust in place of Hatate. Nir Bitton’s introduction helped to see the game out calmly, while James Forrest had a couple of nice touches after coming on. These are all veterans, guys who know what it’s like to win titles with Celtic, and great bench options.

Instead of having to necessarily rely on those players week-in, week-out, the squad is at a point – at a crucial time – where we can bring on game-changers where needs be.

That’s what Ange has wanted all along. And last night, he even got to give Yosuke Ideguchi and Karamoko Dembele some much needed minutes.

Read more: Ange lauds substitutions and depth of Celtic squad; shares brilliant man-management message