Ange Postecoglou explains his controversial Celtic decision; wants one player to improve

By John McGinley

November 26, 2021

Ange Postecoglou has given his reasons behind last night’s substitutions of attacking Celtic talent vs Bayer Leverkusen.

With the Bhoys 2-1 up in the match, the Celtic boss decided to make a number of switches in the attack across a four-minute period, with Kyogo, Jota and James Forrest all coming off to be replaced by Albian Ajeti, Mikey Johnston and Liel Abada.

The withdrawal of Jota was particularly controversial with some Celtic supporters, who felt he still had enough in the tank to cause the German side problems on the counter-attack.

Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Explaining his decision, Postecoglou told The Herald: “He is going well. We took him off because him and James in the front three worked really hard.

“I felt we needed some extra energy particularly in the wide areas and we had two players on the bench to do that. I felt it was a good time to make the substitutions.”

Meanwhile, the Australian has also called on Jota to improve on aspects of his game despite his excellent contribution in recent weeks.

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Postecoglou said: “You saw he is playing against a very good team, good opponents, he wasn’t able to dominate the way he usually does. He just needs to keep working at it. He’s a young guy and he’s still learning.

“He took his goal really well, which again showed his quality. But there are still a lot of areas he needs to develop and the more we push him to play the football we do the more he will develop. He wants to. He knows he still has a lot to learn.”

I stated last night that supporters criticising the manager for these substitutions were using a heavy dose of hindsight. I thought both Jota and Forrest looked notably tired. However, that excuse won’t wash for some who disagree, which is completely fair enough.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Ultimately you can’t argue that the substitutions had a positive impact and that’s the measurement of any manager’s decision, so criticising Postecoglou on this isn’t completely out of line.

We can only hope that it works in terms of giving Jota, Kyogo and company the freshness on Sunday to punish Aberdeen.

In other news, Don’t miss Joe Hart’s fiery, passionate interview and promise after Celtic defeat.