Joe Hart is already revolutionising his game under Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou

By Euan Davidson

August 10, 2021

How will Joe Hart fit under the style of new Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou? That was the question many of us were asking when the ex-Manchester City ‘keeper joined the Bhoys.

That “many of us” definitely included yours truly. After all, as good a shot-stopper as Hart is, he was never recognised as much of a “sweeper-keeper”. A goalie who could recycle the ball, and distribute quickly to his defenders in a possession-based system was never a description of Joe Hart.

Turns out, he’s absolutely fine with it. On the evidence so far, anyway. So far, Joe Hart is averaging 41 passes a game [WhoScored?]. With those passes, a whopping 90% are hitting their mark.

So? It’s only 2 games! Big deal, right?

Ah, but: this tops anything Hart has done with the ball since 2011. As pointed out by Cynic Analytics, InStat has Hart making more passes than ever before.

It’s still very, very early days. However, if we had any doubts about Joe Hart and his ability to adapt his game to Ange Postecoglou and his system at Celtic, the early signs are remarkably positive.

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Against Dundee, Hart passed the ball 45 times [WhoScored?]. Even at Manchester City, his average pass statistics were markedly lower, averaging 19.7 per 90 in one of his best campaigns with the Citizens, the 11-12 season [WhoScored?].

Ange Postecoglou is already helping Joe Hart to change his game, at 34

So, let’s say you’re not into stats. Fair enough. Or, that you think we’re maybe cherry-picking positives from two decent results.

That’s as may be. However, it’s commendable for three reasons. The first is that it facilitates quick movement and keeping the ball well. Punting it out for a throw-in consistently doesn’t really help Celtic out.

Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images

Secondly, it proves that Joe Hart isn’t here for any other reason than to impress. The difficult we’ve had with Premier League players coming to Celtic in the past was an unwillingness to adapt to the style of the manager. Whether it was Juninho or Shane Duffy, the list of Premier League casualties at Celtic is considerable.

Thirdly, it means Ange Postecoglou is able to communicate efficiently and effectively with his players. Regardless of whether they’re 18, or double that. His vision counts, and what he says goes.

Getting the best out of a player so many had written off could just be one of the great things Ange Postecoglou does at Celtic in 21-22. Given our defensive struggles though, specifically between the sticks, we needed a shot-stopper, preferably a good communicator with excellent experience.

But one who’s willing to buy into the passing game his manager demands, too? That’s a lovely bonus.

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