Ange had to adapt to get best out of Celtic striker Giakoumakis; it's working a treat

By Euan Davidson

March 22, 2022

Daizen Maeda, Kyogo Furuhashi, Giorgos Giakoumakis; in terms of the the type of attackers they are, one of these Celtic strikers signed by Ange Postecoglou is not like the other.

Kyogo was such a revelation because of a number of factors. His work rate is phenomenal, and the blistering start he got off to was utterly remarkable. He’s still our top scorer this season, and he’s been out since December. Maeda, meanwhile, is similarly intense; his sprint statistics leap from the page, and he was able to score within 5 minutes of his debut.

Both can be played in a particular way; as a pressing forward, an agitator who can rely on their pace and reading of the game to manipulate defences. With Giakoumakis, things were a little harder.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Not a poacher, not really a target man, as such, the Greek striker was idiosyncratic even in the modern, atypical tactical set-up Ange Postecoglou prefers. Despite having to get our heads around forwards who defended while scoring, inverted full-backs et al, Giakoumakis was still a unique prospect.

It’s been a bit of a challenge for Ange Postecoglou, because Giakoumakis isn’t just a straight-forward swap up front. You have to utilise him differently. Ange, though, has found a way to make it work – and how!

Against Ross County, Giakoumakis was barely involved in build-up play. You’d expect Maeda or Kyogo to be intimately involved in how moves come together. But rather than being on the ball, Giakoumakis was finding space, using his physicality to beat players in the air.

We saw the same, to an extent, against Dundee United. Giakoumakis wasn’t particularly involved in the build-up to either of his goals, but he was in dangerous areas to finish them. Ange Postecoglou just doesn’t tend to use strikers like this, but in the Greece international, he’s found a unique challenge.

12 Celtic stars depart as an epic Ange Postecoglou interview awaits

12 Celtic stars depart as an epic Ange Postecoglou interview awaits
67 Hail Hail (Youtube)

Giorgos Giakoumakis is a unique prospect for Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou

Earlier in the season, we talked about a lack of “Plan B”. That we relied on Kyogo, and that if Ange’s intense, pass-heavy style didn’t work, we had no alternatives.

Nobody thought at that point that Ange would decide to go route-one, sign a Peter Crouch-a-like and turn into Stoke circa 2008. He hasn’t. What he has done though, is gone more direct in recent games with Giakoumakis in the side.

“Direct” in football language has bad connotations. We go back to that Stoke example. But it’s not really “direct” in the classic sense. The ball is generally kept on the deck for the majority of build-up. We’ve seen more examples of Giakoumakis getting to work on the ground than in the air, generally speaking.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Still, there’s an urgency to the attacking approach we’ve seen in 2022. Wide players, especially Jota, have far more joy when they cross the ball into dangerous areas. Ditto Maeda, who caused Benjamin Siegrist untold bother with his deliveries against Dundee United.

From everything we’ve seen from Ange Postecoglou, and what he’s done before, it feels like a bit of a departure in some senses. However, that’s a good thing. Any talk of Postecoglou being inflexible with his player roles, tactics and instructions is surely moot now.

Giakoumakis has turned into a total success for Celtic, at least short-term. In earlier games, including against Livingston at Celtic Park, he looked a bit lost, unsure of where the ball would be coming from, and where to be. He’s absolutely figured it out. Though he isn’t a poacher or target man in any traditional sense, he’s melding different types of centre-forward play.

It’s paying off, big time. Having Kyogo back is going to be exciting, but now we know Ange is more than willing to mix it up.

Over the next few seasons, things could get really, really exciting.

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