Ange Postecoglou addresses James Forrest missing out on Celtic cup final

By John McGinley

March 4, 2023

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou reckons James Forrest understands better than anyone, including the Australian, why he wasn’t guaranteed a spot in the Scottish League Cup final squad by default.

Forrest wasn’t named in the starting eleven or the bench for the Hampden clash against Rangers, missing out on the chance to savour yet another final success at the national stadium.

The Bhoys winger has won an incredible 20 major honours at the club and is still in the mix to achieve more, despite not making the squad last Sunday. Unfortunately, it wasn’t another legacy day for a player who has contributed massively over the last decade. But Ange will always go with the best squad balance for the match in front of him, rather than make purely sentimental picks.

Photo by Steve Christo – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

“You can’t have it both ways”

Addressing the decision to leave him out, Postecoglou said [Daily Record]: “The reason James has had so much success, and he understands that so much better than me, is because this is a football club where you are constantly fighting for your position and constantly fighting for honours so he accepts that.

“I am sure that James could have gone somewhere else this year and played but the reason he stayed with us is because he wants to continue to contribute to the success and he understands that. This is a club that demands constant competition.

“I keep saying that you can’t have it both ways; you can’t have guaranteed football and also being at a club that is constantly challenging for success because it doesn’t work that way. I don’t need to explain that because he understands that better than me.”

With Sead Haksabanovic, Liel Abada and Hyeongyu Oh all named on the bench for the Rangers match, and indeed all getting game time to solid effect, you can understand why the manager felt the overall squad needed defensive balance.

Forrest isn’t out of favour. In fact he featured off the bench against Aberdeen just the week before. He is still very much involved moving forward this season. I wouldn’t even be surprised to see him on the pitch tomorrow.

Thankfully he isn’t injured, at least, which was easy to assume when his name wasn’t on the teamsheet at all. The winger still has excellent opportunities ahead with his boyhood club and, given Postecoglou’s comments here, we’ll know he has earned them when they come along.

In other news, Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou firmly shuts down media quizzing on Josip Juranovic comments.