Gordon Strachan discusses what Celtic boss' original plan was for West Ham friendly

By David Walton

July 25, 2021

Gordon Strachan believes Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou wanted to change everything at half-time yesterday, before a dismal first-half display forced him into a rethink.

Celtic were downed 6-2 by West Ham United at Parkhead yesterday. The tone was set after the Hoops let a one-goal lead slip by conceding three first-half goals.

At that stage, it could’ve been anything. Postecoglou watched the score develop into 4-2 before making wholesale changes on 65 minutes and bringing on a raft of younger, inexperienced players.

However, former Celtic boss Strachan believes that Postecoglou would’ve wanted to do that at the break.

Speaking on Premier Sports yesterday [Premier Sports 1, 24/07, 16:50] Strachan said: “These games can be really difficult for a manager. You hope that pre-season makes you feel better about yourself, fitter. But sometimes you get a hit like that, and they can actually set you back a bit.

“It’s not in the plan for the manager. I think the manager planned at half-time to change everybody, but because of the way it could’ve went he thought ‘I’ll just wait a bit’. And then he’s had to push it back and his plans go up in the air.

“You’re expecting to get something from the game. The first 15-20 minutes, what did he learn from the game? Christie’s a great player. McGregor’s a great player. Are other people going to come on to a game and take over? That was the disappointing bit. There are people there waiting for their chance, wanting their chance, and not really taking it.”

Gordon Strachan spot on, Celtic boss was looking to avoid embarrassment

You’re now left wondering what yesterday’s game was actually good for. Many will say getting some minutes into the likes of Liel Abada and Dane Murray was key. Others will say it helped reintegrate James Forrest.

All of that is true, but it’s hardly lifted the spirits ahead of Wednesday’s game in Midtjylland. Whilst they were securing a big away win in the Danish Superliga, we were embarrassing ourselves at Parkhead.

It isn’t on the manager either. None of our frustrations are based on anything Postecoglou has done since arriving at Parkhead. He’s simply been forced to work with what he’s got.

Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images

But we were initially going into this week’s game in high spirits after bossing Midtjylland at Celtic Park. Now we’re going in licking our wounds after a drubbing, with many players no doubt having taken a knock in confidence.

This always looked a worrying fixture to arrange. Especially considering we hadn’t strengthened at centre-back either. It was no surprise to see that we were punished.

Whatever plans Postecoglou had for the West Ham game, they were quickly ripped up. Instead, the sole goal would’ve been to avoid a drubbing. That we couldn’t do that says more about the board than it does anyone else.

In other news: Michail Antonio wowed by his Celtic Park experience; lauds atmosphere