The SPFL rule change Ange has used to brilliant effect for Celtic in 2022

By David Walton

April 25, 2022

There’s been a lot that Ange Postecoglou has gotten right for Celtic in 2022, but one of the underrated aspects is undoubtedly how he’s used the new 5-sub rule.

Last season under Neil Lennon and latterly John Kennedy, Celtic fans were left extremely frustrated by our usage of substitutions. The management team would either wait far too late to make their moves, or they would ultimately decide not to bother using them at all.

We spoke yesterday about how Ange’s no-nonsense triple sub in the 2-0 win over Ross County was a big moment. How it helped turn the game in our favour and ensure we saw it through comfortably enough. But the truth is this has hardly been a one-off.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The 5-sub rule was taken away for the start of the 2021/22 campaign. However, it thankfully made a return for the second half of the season. It was first put in place against Hibernian in a Premiership match back in January. Since then, Ange has used 4 or more subs in every single domestic game bar 4.

Even then, he still decided to use 3 subs in 3 more games. The only match he failed to make many changes came away to Hibs in a 0-0 draw at Easter Road. On that day, Ange decided to only make one substitution. But this has proven to be extremely rare.

Take our last 3 domestic matches for example before Sunday. Against Rangers at Hampden, the manager made 5 changes before full-time. 3 of them came before the final 20 minutes. The week beforehand against St Johnstone? All 5 were made before we reached the final 15 minutes.

Even the 2-1 win at Ibrox when every decision made by the manager was always going to be over-analysed, he still had the bravery to make 5 subs heading into the final 15.

Ross County 0-2 Celtic | LIVE Reaction

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Ross County 0-2 Celtic | LIVE Reaction
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Ange Postecoglou not afraid to make wholesale Celtic changes when needed

Ange won’t always get it right. However, it’s clear that he can see when a game is stagnating. How often last season did it feel as though you were watching a different game from the management staff?

Sure, we won’t always agree with the manager either. I, for one, wanted Reo Hatate to come off midway through the second half instead of O’Riley. But I was appreciative of the fact the manager made his own moves to try and change things.

In the end, we got the result we wanted and that was all that really mattered.

Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images

In recent weeks you have to say his decision-making has generally worked out well too. Going back to that Hampden semi loss to Rangers, it was Ange’s initial double-sub which gave us a foothold and led to us taking the lead. Granted, we didn’t win in the end but it was another example of his changes making a positive influence.

More often than not, Ange is making decisions early and it’s making Celtic a better side. This really has been one of his managerial traits that has gone under the radar this season. Something that deserves a lot more credit.

In-game tweaking has been key to our unbeaten league run in 2022, and a key reason as to why we’ve seen games out so comfortably. Massive props to the manager. Things like this only increase our trust in him further.

In other news, “I know Celtic will win”; Billy Dodds the latest to believe the title race is over