Ange shields Celtic players from critics with valid mitigating factors for defending vs Betis

By John McGinley

September 17, 2021

Ange Postecoglou has come to the defence of his Celtic side’s performance behind the ball against Real Betis on Thursday night.

Although the Bhoys managed to score three goals on the road in Spain, it was another away European defeat.

Betis found their way to goal on four occasions, highlighting defensive problems that have been a concern for supporters throughout 2021.

Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

After the game, reporters put to him whether or not tightening up the defence was now the priority, but the Celtic boss rallied around his inexperienced backline.

As quoted by The Scottish Daily Mail [17/09 print edition, page 89], he said: “Don’t discount the quality of the opposition. They got into our box, we tried to keep them out, but they were always a threat.

“Tony Ralston has been outstanding, but he’s missed a few games. It was Cameron’s (Carter-Vickers) second game, Carl (Starfelt) has just come in this year. It’s Josip’s (Juranovic’s) third or fourth game. It’s going to take time for us to get that understanding.

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“I see in them a desire to get better and improve and that’s the most important thing.”

Nobody likes to see Celtic concede four goals, especially when some of them could be considered cheap.

But I reckon the mitigating factors that Ange describes here are valid.

This Celtic defensive line, team, squad and club are right at the start of a journey, far from the finished product.

If going toe-to-toe with a good La Liga outfit is where we are right now, think of where we could be eventually under the manager.

Photo by JORGE GUERRERO/AFP via Getty Images

I’m not expecting Celtic to ever be a catenaccio force under Postecoglou, but I do think these players will get better and I do think this defence will get stronger over time.

There will be the usual tired debate of pragmatism vs AngeBall in the wake of last night, but let’s be honest, this manager isn’t going to change his approach.

In other news, Pat Bonner shares what James McCarthy has told him about Celtic fitness.