Ange Postecoglou makes substitutes admission after Celtic defeat
Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou admitted his substitutions didn’t have the impact he intended in the second half of tonight’s defeat to Bayer Leverkusen in the UEFA Europa League.
Postecoglou made a number of bold changes at a critical time in the match, with the Bhoys 2-1 up in the encounter.
Kyogo Furuhashi, Jota and James Forrest were all substituted off in the space of four minutes, with Albian Ajeti, Liel Abada and Mikey Johnston replacing them. The manager was also forced into bringing off Nir Bitton for James McCarthy due to a head knock.
However, there was a notable gap in the quality of the performers, with Celtic having a far less effective out ball in the closing stages of the game. There were a number of breakaways that perhaps Jota and Kyogo could have capitalised had they been on the pitch.
Postecoglou didn’t try to hide behind that post-match, telling The Scottish Sun: “Guys coming on didn’t have the impact we wanted because we had some opportunities to create something ourselves and our decision making wasn’t great and we allowed the pressure to build up on us. They are a good team and if you keep giving them opportunities they are going to take them.
“We were trying to hold on but we just needed to be a bit more composed particularly when we had the ball, to control the game a bit better. But it’s easy for me to say. We hung in there unbelievably well, Joe Hart made some unbelievable saves. We were really resilient defensively but they got the better of us at the end.”
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Ultimately, for me, Postecoglou’s hand was effectively forced. Jota and Forrest were notably tiring in the match. Forrest was also starting his first match in over three months.
You could make an argument that the manager should have made just one or two subs, rather than the four including Bitton, but that point is made with a heavy dose of hindsight.
We needed fresh legs on the pitch. The issue is the gulf in class between a Jota and Johnston or a Kyogo and Ajeti. We need better players in the squad. It will have to be addressed over time, starting in January.