"Feels like back in 2015"; Improved Celtic star loving life under Ange Postecoglou
Celtic midfielder Nir Bitton is finally being played in the correct position by Ange Postecoglou, and it’s working wonders for himself and the team.
In the absence of Tom Rogic, Bitton has been brought into the side as a defensive midfielder. That was the position he played hitherto signing for the Hoops, and one he played in for the first few years of his time at the club.
Increasingly, under Brendan Rodgers and Neil Lennon, Bitton deputised as a centre-back. It wasn’t always a comfortable fit, especially in Europe and in Glasgow Derbies.
In Postecoglou’s first competitive game, Bitton was entrusted at the back. However, his awkward fit was epitomised by a daft sending off against FC Midtjylland [BBC]. However, he’s looked revitalised in his correct position in recent games.
Asked by Celtic in-house media about how he’s enjoying the season so far, Bitton said it feels like he’s playing under Ronny Deila again. During that season, Bitton had a propensity for the occasional screamer, too. The Israeli international is hoping he can add more goals to his tally.
He said [Celtic FC]:
“It [feels] like back in 2015, 2016! I feel good. Whenever I get an opportunity to play, I will do my best to help the team. To justify the faith that the manager [has] given to me.
“For me it’s honestly not about myself, it’s about the team. If the team play good, then it’s more important.
“Hopefully I can hit one of [those goals] tomorrow! If not then the fans need to be careful, because usually it’s going [into] Row Z. But if one of them hit the target it’s going to be dangerous…”
Nir Bitton has quality to offer Celtic, provided he’s in the right position
Perhaps it’s not just me who was confounded by the regular use of Nir Bitton as a centre-back.
He has the instincts, sure; normally a decent tackler who reads danger well. But his physical attributes, leaving aside his height, aren’t well-suited to the modern centre-back role.
It’s worth remembering how important he was in 2015-16, too. He made 46 appearances for Celtic, scoring 8 and setting up 6 [Transfermarkt]. That’s very decent production from a deep-lying midfield player.
Dictating the tempo and bringing calm behind more attacking midfield players is undoubtedly his game. That’s what he was brought in to do, and he did it at a good level.
Sticking him at centre-back was an utter waste of his talents. It’s remarkable that Brendan Rodgers, a manager of such repute, didn’t see things that way.
With Rogic out, there were obvious concerns about how this Celtic midfield would perform. But the steady guidance of Nir Bitton has been a boost, rather than a detriment.