A year ago, most Celtic fans probably hadn’t heard of Stephen Welsh or Ange Postecoglou.
Yet, here we are, in June 2021, and both will be crucial next season. Stephen Welsh, following a solid run of games in the latter half of the season, has truly emerged. He has plenty to work on, but alongside Kristoffer Ajer, he constituted one half of a much-improved defence.
Not too long ago, Welsh was having an average spell at Greenock Morton. Yet, come the Champions League qualifiers, he’ll be one of our more experienced campaigners. That’s the nature of things at Celtic just now, and a new manager could be a scary prospect for the youngster. After all, he made his name against the odds under the previous regime, and he’s got another new boss to impress.
Except, Welsh sounds right up for it.
Speaking to Celtic’s in-house media, Welsh said [Celtic FC]:
“We’re all excited to see what the new manager brings. He’s obviously very experienced and he took Australia to the World Cup, so it’s a good resume that he’s got.
“We’re thinking positively and hopefully he’ll bring good things to the team, to the club and helps the players improve, as well as bringing in new players to help the squad even more.
Pre-season is key for Welsh and Ange Postecoglou
“Pre-season will give him time to implement his style and get to know all the players, so it’ll be good for all of us.
“I got a good run of games in the team from February until the end of the season, so hopefully I can take that into pre-season, have a pre-season and then kick on for the start of the qualifiers and the start of the new league season, and I’m sure I speak for all the boys when I say that we’re absolutely buzzing to have the fans back in the stadium as quickly as possible. We need to look forward and be positive about the new season.”
Firstly, and this is important: “resume”! Ooh! Get you, eh, Stephen?
Secondly, and this is just as important; Welsh has to prove himself all over again. As we know, Postecoglou isn’t a sentimental guy when it comes to pre-existing squad members. He does, however, like playing it out from the back, even against a high press.
That could suit Welsh. In his Premiership appearances last season, Welsh played around 71 passes per 90, and was successful with a very decent 85.9% [WhoScored]. On several occasions, he very ably moved the ball on, absorbing pressure and playing his way out of bother, instead of hoofing it to the opposition.
Postecoglou will have to bring defenders in, that’s just a fact. While Leo Hjelde may see more opportunities, Christopher Jullien’s injuries have been deeply concerning, and for sheer numbers, Celtic will have to invest. But that doesn’t automatically mean Stephen Welsh will have to put up with sitting on the bench.
If 20-21 was a breakout season, 21-22 is for consolidation. Welsh sounds up for the task.