Pat Bonner lauds the second-half Ange Postecoglou tweak that "improved" Celtic at Fir Park

By David Walton

February 7, 2022

Pat Bonner believes the moving of Daizen Maeda from left-wing to centre-forward “improved” Celtic despite the game being dead and buried at Fir Park before then.

The Hoops raced into a 3-0 lead before the break thanks to goals from Liel Abada and Tom Rogic x2. It came after Ange Postecoglou decided to go with Giorgos Giakoumakis up top and Maeda on the left flank. Jota, meanwhile, was put on the bench.

With half an hour to go and the game over as a contest, Ange took Giakoumakis off for Jota and moved Maeda through the middle. The Japanese international would notch the 4th and final goal of the day.

Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

And Bonner believes that particular change from Postecoglou helped improve Celtic as an attacking threat in the second half.

Speaking via BBC Scotland’s Football Podcast, Bonner said: “I also think that when Maeda played through the middle, it actually improved them. Initially whrn obviously Giakoumakis was playing in there, everything was being played into his feet. He’s grappling, he’s fighting with the 2 centre-halves.

“But when the centre-halves were up against Maeda, he’s running in behind. He’s the one that’s stretching it. He’s making those little penetrating passes and then you’ve got the midfielders who can pass the ball to him.

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“They created probably 3 or 4 good chances on the back of that. Of those little runs. That actually improved the team as it went on in that second half.”

Celtic have different forward options and they’ll all need used this season

I’m hesitant to say moving Maeda into the centre-forward position improved Celtic. Because for me it gives off the impression that Giakoumakis had a poor game or didn’t perform as we needed him too. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

The big Greek again ruffled feathers with his physical approach, and his intelligent runs in the penalty area helped open up space for the likes of Tom Rogic and Liel Abada to exploit. Just because he didn’t get on the scoresheet again doesn’t mean he wasn’t in good form. This was every bit as effective a performance from him as he produced against Rangers.

Maeda represented a different option of course. He was relatively quiet down the left with the vast majority of Celtic’s good work coming down the opposite flank. However, he burst into the match when Giakoumakis went off. Not only did he nab a goal after latching onto a fine Matt O’Riley through ball, but he also should’ve had a second when he nabbed a poor back-pass to round Liam Kelly and slot home. Bizarrely, an infringement was spotted.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

You could say Maeda improved how we attacked the Steelmen in the second 45. He worked the Motherwell centre-backs more with regards to tracking his runs. But that was only because Giakoumakis had tired them out in the opening hour with another battling performance.

The truth is that everyone is making an impact at the moment, not only certain individuals. Giakoumakis included. He’s been instrumental in recent matches and deserves to be backed ahead of this week’s trip to Pittodrie.

It would be nice to see him get back amongst the goals in the near-future. But as for his all-round contribution? He’s another who’s absolutely flying.

In other news, The small allocation Celtic will have for Bodo/Glimt clash in Norway