Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou's squad building abilities came to the fore last night
Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou was without his most prolific and settled front three last night.
The Hoops boss was missing Liel Abada, Jota and Kyogo Furuhashi. David Turnbull, one of the leading creative lights in the first-half of the season, is also still out. Yet, at no point last night did the Hoops lack any threat, look like conceding, or generally ceding control of the game.
And that was just the starting line-up. During the game, Ange could rely on Australian international and resurgent force Tom Rogic, coming on for Reo Hatate.
Later, James McCarthy, something of a forgotten man already, made an appearance, while Karamoko Dembele came on to great effect, setting up Giakoumakis’ second of the night.
None of this is a coincidence or a happy accident. Consider the rest of the bench; Anthony Ralston, Stephen Welsh, Chris Jullien and Yosuke Ideguchi were all options, too. Out of the absolute ruins he was left with, Postecoglou has revitalised careers, kept promising players close to the first team, and freshened up the squad with quality alternatives.
Postecoglou put together a starting line-up that didn’t include the three most on-form players from the first-half of the season. By the end of the game, it was so comfortable for Celtic that fringe options could come on and still make an impact.
Last night wasn’t just about the result in itself. It was a warning, too, for the rest of the Scottish top-flight.
Out of the ruins, Ange Postecoglou has build a formidable Celtic squad
The crux of this, is that Ange Postecoglou has built a settled, gelled Celtic side, with one hurried transfer window, and another where he could more methodical.
And there are options all over the park. Without Jota, Abada or Kyogo – 40 goals combined [Transfermarkt] – there would’ve been reasonable anxiety as kick-off approached last night. Yet, Postecoglou could rely on Giakoumakis, who scored twice, with James Forrest and the excellent Daizen Maeda playing off him. It totally worked.
For Ange Postecoglou be able to bring on guys from the Celtic fringes like Mikey Johnstone and Karamoko Dembele isn’t a luxury, it’s a product of keeping players happy and motivated.
Does anyone else have this kind of depth? No, they don’t. Yet, Celtic haven’t overspent to be in this position, Academy players are finally coming through, and smart recruitment left Ange with a host of options who are all bearing fruit at a crucial time.
The schedule will be gruelling. There will be tests, there may even be dropped points.
But the fact we’re in a fight for a Treble is a product of magnificent squad building. We can’t take it for granted where we were before, and the shape the squad is in now.
That, and there are key players still to come, who haven’t been missed too badly.
Not a bad place to be for Ange Postecoglou and Celtic, is it?