Celtic boss Postecoglou insists all of his defenders will have key role to play

By Euan Davidson

October 22, 2021

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou is keen to avoid a “best XI” narrative, insisting all of his central defenders will have a part to play this season.

Carl Starfelt and Cameron Carter-Vickers are developing an astute understanding in the middle of defence. They’ve kept two consecutive clean sheets together in our last two outings, against Motherwell and Ferencvaros.

However, Postecoglou remains mindful that it’s important not to get locked into certain options. The Greek-Aussie boss, who brought in Carter-Vickers and Starfelt this summer, knows there are places up for grabs.

The Celtic manager said [Herald]:

“Stevie Welsh was good when he played earlier [in the season]. He’s ready to come in at any time. We rate him highly.

“We’ve got young Dane Murray who did well [earlier in the season too]. We’ve got Chris Jullien. It’s not about locking down a couple. What we want to do is create a strong squad and be competitive all over the park.

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“We ask a lot of our centre-backs.

“We ask them to play out from the back and then we’re asking them to squeeze up and be aggressive with our defending.

“It’s a lot easier to play centre-back in other teams I can guarantee you, but they have tackled it and we know there is more to come.”

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou could even add to his cohort of defenders in January

Let’s not discount the possibility that Postecoglou could even add to his numbers in the January window.

With Celtic “confident” of landing a star forward in the form of Daizen Maeda, it isn’t unreasonable to think Postecoglou has targets for different areas of the team.

That said, he does have good options there just now. Christopher Jullien, our second most expensive signing in club history [BBC], should be match-ready soon.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

As he says, Stephen Welsh and Dane Murray could easily slot in, and should improve under the guidance of Postecoglou. Welsh looked more than capable in 20-21, and has potential to be a mainstay for Celtic.

The manager’s right, though; Celtic ask a lot of their centre-backs. It’s not even just about being either ball-playing or “no-nonsense”, it’s about having a combination of skills.

Primarily, excellent reading of the game. Having to split wide and still cover central areas is asking a lot. In that context, despite criticism, Carl Starfelt has actually done pretty well. Cameron Carter-Vickers, who worked under Mauricio Pochettino, might’ve had a tactical edge but also required some adjustment.

It’s still very much a work in progress. But Postecoglou is right to back an area of the team that’s been relentlessly criticised this season.

Read more: St Johnstone boss Davidson outlines gameplan to frustrate Celtic