Why Ange Postecoglou can breathe easier ahead of Celtic Champions League tie

By Euan Davidson

June 23, 2021

It’d be hard to argue Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou was rooting against Scotland last night.

However, putting it another way, it’s not like Scotland’s Euro 2020 exit has made his job harder. To use a golfing term for the first and last time on these pages; Postecoglou has to play it where it lies. He’s now got a much fuller contingent of players to work with, and they happen to be some of Celtic’s most important players.

With McGregor, Forrest, Taylor, Turnbull and Christie all coming back earlier than hoped, there are a few questions to answer. Will Ryan Christie have his future sorted out this summer? Has McGregor done enough to firm up the captaincy? What will Forrest’s role be, and is Greg Taylor good enough to be the starting left-back for us?

Sooner than we would’ve liked, Postecoglou can run the rule over the players that will be absolutely key to him. Yes, they’ll need a wee break after their international commitments, but there’s nothing to say they couldn’t enjoy that break in the “world-class” facilities of Celtic Manor in Wales.

Now, it verges on dodgy territory when we get into “his Scottish players will be most important, they know the city” type talk. Celtic has always been, and always will be, an international club. Someone like Christopher Jullien has input that’s just as valuable as say, Greg Taylor. Equally, though, there’s a transitional element to taking over a club in a foreign country. In the same way, Postecoglou will have relied heavily on Yokohama F Marino’s Japanese contingent to smooth his introduction to life in the J-League.

A welcome boost for Ange Postecoglou ahead of stern Champions League test

Undoubtedly, it would’ve been extremely cool if Ange Postecoglou could welcome back some Euro 2020 winners, but that hasn’t happened. If anything, he’ll be breathing a bit easier today, knowing that some of his core players will be coming back earlier than planned.

“Ah, you’re back then, lads?” / (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Given the fine margins, and the limited time Celtic have before facing FC Midtjylland in the Champions League [Irish Times], that’ll be a welcome boost. They will also have experience from the major tournament to draw upon, the frustrations of not being picked in some cases, and the determination to get themselves back into Scotland contention.

That isn’t to say that we should enjoy the fact Scotland are out. But, for the meantime, it’s back to business with Celtic. Yes, it’s a sore one to take, but the motivation this will bring to the Hoops’ Scottish players has to be considerable.

Postecoglou will be gutted for some of his new players, for sure, but it’d be unrealistic to suggest he’s not more than a little relieved at the same time.

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