Barry Bannan's brilliant Celtic verdict after facing Bhoys last summer
Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Barry Bannan has opened up on his experience of facing Ange Postecoglou’s side during pre-season last year.
The former Scotland internationalist remains a key player for the English League One side, having previously played for the likes of Aston Villa and Crystal Palace.
The 32-year-old is also a big Celtic fan and has regularly been seen posting about the Hoops on social media. He doesn’t hide it, that’s for sure.
Last year, the midfielder got the chance to captain a Sheffield Wednesday side, which was the first team to take on Ange Postecoglou and his side in pre-season.
Of course, this wasn’t long after Postecoglou had officially been confirmed as the Hoops boss, with the club also facing the task of rebuilding the playing squad during the summer.
The Bhoys came out 3-1 winners over the Owls in their first friendly fixture, with Albian Ajeti, Owen Moffat and Odsonne Edouard grabbing the goals in Wales.
However, with it being very early days in the Postecoglou era, the performance and style of play wasn’t quite there yet after just a matter of weeks of pre-season training.
In a recent interview, Bannan has opened up about his experiences of facing Ange Postecoglou’s side as the players and coaching staff attempted to integrate the new system.
The Scottish midfield also admitted that despite seeing flashes from Celtic that day, he never expected this side to go on and perform as they did across the 2021/22 campaign.
Speaking to the Celtic Unrestricted View podcast, he said: “We played them, and the first five/ten minutes, we were all over them and could’ve scored a few goals. They obviously never had all their main players playing, but as the game grew and they kept sticking to what they were trying to do, at the end, they were the better team.
“It was that thing with the inverted wing-backs. At the start, they couldn’t get a hold of it, it was Ralston coming inside and Welsh at centre half, and we were cutting a lot of the passes out.
“But as they were sticking to it, they never went away from it even though we were nipping in and getting chances. The manager was obviously adamant, ‘this is what we’re doing’.
“As the season wore on, they kind of mastered it, really. You could tell from that day, and looking back now, they were obviously working on what’s became so successful through the season.
He continued: “The manager’s been unbelievable. I seen wee bits of it that day, but I never thought it was going to be like this. I walked away that day thinking, ‘they’re miles off it,’ but obviously, they managed to get players in and won the league.
“You could still see that he wanted to play a certain way even though he didn’t have his main players, and it’s not changed. The only thing that’s changed is they’ve got better players in. Once you get better players in, it becomes easier to play the way you want to play.
“They’ve bought unbelievably in the transfer market. Most of his signings, if not all of them, have come in and made a mark. That’s the biggest thing he had to get right this season. There was no doubt after finishing 20-odd points behind; they needed fresh bodies in.”
Ange Postecoglou’s work with the players on the system paid off
After a stuttering start to the season, many pundits began to question Ange Postecoglou’s style of play and whether it would be a success for Celtic.
The 56-year-old had no doubt in his mind that things would come good for the Hoops, and his players continued to learn how to best play the system.
From September onwards, this group of players seemed to kick on, and despite facing injury issues throughout, they continued to learn how to play under Postecoglou.
The Celtic manager deserves a lot of credit for the work conducted on his squad within such a short space of time from his arrival.
He certainly reaped the rewards, lifting the Scottish Premiership title and Premier Sports cup during his first season in charge.