"They embrace it"; Celtic boss left pleased with progress of Bhoys duo

By Lewis Laird

January 9, 2023

Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou was left happy with the performances of Alistair Johnston and Alexandro Bernabei on Saturday as they continue to acclimatise to their new full-back role.

The Celtic duo started as part of the Hoops’ back four during last weekend’s 2-0 win over Kilmarnock.

With the likes of Anthony Ralston and Greg Taylor currently out injured, we could see them remain in the coming few weeks.

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As the two full-backs in Ange Postecoglou’s attacking system, Johnston and Bernabei have a key role to play at the back and going forward.

Having both only joined in the last two transfer windows, it could take some time for the defenders to settle into this style of play.

Speaking directly after the win against Killie, Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou admitted he was pleased with the way they both played.

The 57-year-old insisted that the Canadian and Argentinian are embracing their new roles as part of the Celtic squad and admitted it took some time for Ralston, Taylor and Josip Juranovic to settle in.

He said [Irish News]: “It is a challenging position, it is fair to say that because we are so different in the way we play from the way everyone else plays.

“The likes of Ali and Berna are still getting their head around it. It probably took Greg and even Jura 12 months to get their head around it. All the guys have tackled it the right way, Tony Ralston is another one.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

“The good thing about all those guys is they accepted the challenge. There was no saying ‘I can’t play that way’ or ‘I don’t like it that way’. They embrace it.

“With Ali and Berna, you will see the best of them as they get to grips with the role.”

He continued: “It’s not easy, he’s a young guy (Alexandro Bernabei), and he hasn’t had an extended run in the team.

“He has probably played more than I thought he would but less than he deserves because Greg Taylor has been outstanding.

“The good thing about him was second half he finished really strong, he was still getting forward. So he has got the physical capacity to play in that position which is really important – it’s not just tactically in those full-back positions, there is a fair physical demand on the players.

“It shows he has a good engine and the same with Alistair, right to the end they were working hard to get forward to provide support.”

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Ange Postecoglou happy with progress of Celtic duo as they continue to adjust to system.

As Ange Postecoglou mentions, it is fair to say that playing as one of the two full-backs in this Celtic team can be a bit of a demanding role.

However, both Johnston and Bernabei appear to be settling into the system nicely as they prepare for their first sustained run in the starting 11 together.

Of course, there is still going to be plenty of room for development for two relatively young players. But the Celtic manager appears to be happy with what he is seeing on a daily basis.

Long may that continue, and hopefully, both Johnston and Bernabei can continue to play their part as we target yet more trophy success this season.

The duo are expected to keep their place in the side as we head to Hampden Park to take on Kilmarnock for the second time in seven days.

In other news, Tomoki Iwata gives insight into what he can add to Celtic squad.