Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou's brilliant response to league strength concerns after Moriyasu call

By John McGinley

March 17, 2023

Ange Postecoglou doesn’t feel people should be reading too much into the comments of Hajime Moriyasu after the Japan manager suggested that the strength of the Scottish Premiership was a consideration in not selecting Kyogo Furuhashi and Reo Hatate for his most recent squad.

Moriyasu has again called up Daizen Maeda but there’s no breakthrough for Kyogo or Hatate – both of whom have been in absolutely dynamite form of late. For some Celtic fans, it’s a puzzling situation considering the esteem that the duo are held in over here.

Some observers and pundits have noted in recent days that Celtic and other clubs in the Scottish top-flight should be concerned about the perception of the Premiership. If players don’t feel they can earn caps while playing here, it could put them off moving to the league, is the theory of some. Postecoglou was asked in his pre-match press conference today about the lack of call-ups, as well as if he thought Moriyasu’s comments were disrespectful.

Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Postecoglou quietens league strength concerns

The Bhoys boss said [Celtic FC]: “No, both boys are playing really, really well and playing some good football and it’s disappointing for them they haven’t been selected. That’s the nature of international football and it comes down to the national team manager’s decisions and whatever decisions they make.

“In terms of disrespectful, it’s one person’s opinion and I’m not really sure that we should make too many far-reaching conclusions. If you come here next week, you’ll probably find that we don’t have many players training. The reason for that is they’re away playing international football.

“We had five players at the World Cup who all did OK, probably better than OK. We have had players – Josip Juranovic and Moritz Jenz – leave our football club and they’re playing regularly in the Bundesliga, which is a top-five league. Unless, once they go into those clubs, they magically become better footballers, I’d suggest that the selection of individual players doesn’t come down to the level of the league.

“There have been plenty of players who’ve left us or left this league and gone to the biggest leagues in the world and have performed very well. There are plenty of footballers in the Scottish Premiership who have done extremely well at the international level and plenty of players have come from the top five leagues who have struggled in the Premiership. You know, one man’s opinion doesn’t mean it’s wrong, but it doesn’t mean that’s the case either.”

Postecoglou is a man who has the experience to see both sides of this debate, having previously been the manager of a successful Australian international team that won the Asian Cup and played at a World Cup.

He hasn’t bitten back at Moriyasu – Postecoglou knows full well that international managers have tough decisions to make. But he has made it clear that he doesn’t think league strength has much to do with the situations of Kyogo and Hatate – both of whom are clearly talented players.

It’s easy for some observers to dive in with both feet on an issue like this and make assumptions about Scottish football and its quality in comparison to more celebrated divisions. But like Postecoglou, I don’t think it is accurate to suggest the Premiership is turning international managers off Celtic players at large, when plenty of our squad have earned caps and continue to do so.