How Ange Postecoglou can solve his new Celtic selection conundrum

By John McGinley

October 25, 2021

Giorgos Giakoumakis’ introduction to Celtic action has brought a welcome and intriguing selection puzzle to manager Ange Postecoglou.

The Greek striker has shown enough in his most recent two appearances to suggest he can make a substantial contribution in a Hoops shirt this season.

The only problem is, in theory, his selection in the starting eleven hinders the best of Kyogo Furuhashi.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Kyogo’s most electric performances have come when he’s deployed through the middle of the Celtic attack. He presses opponents, he pulls around defenders, he makes devilish runs in behind the defensive line and he has the game intelligence to see his teammates’ passes before they do.

Out wide, he’s been less effective, even if he has more of the ball and is involved in the possession-based style more often.

So the question is – how does the Celtic boss get the best out of both players and have them regularly included?

Anton McElhone’s influence at Celtic is already being felt

Anton McElhone’s influence at Celtic is already being felt
67 Hail Hail (Youtube)

The home and away angle

For me, the strongest solution at the moment would be to use Giakoumakis in the middle for home games and Kyogo at away games. That sounds simplistic but there’s theory to my suggestion.

Right now at Celtic Park, opponents are arriving with a pretty staunch and organised low block. The kind of positioning and defensive ploy that can frustrate the Bhoys.

In that scenario, Kyogo might not have much room to stretch the defence and run in behind opponents anyway. So it could make sense to use the Greek striker as a more physical threat who can battle with defenders, hold the ball up for teammates and provide a more potent target in the box from crosses. The former Vissel Kobe star can still add to performances from the left or right flanks.

Alternatively, away from home would be the time to unleash the Japanese international as the centre forward. Teams are naturally more ambitious in their own back yard and it leaves opportunities for Celtic to exploit on the counter-attack and in other phases. At Easter Road on Wednesday night, for example, I’d expect far more space for Kyogo to operate in that central position than against St Johnstone.

Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

The Postecoglou switcheroo

If the manager is insistent on playing both players regularly, together, home and away then it doesn’t mean that Kyogo will forever be isolated out wide.

The other efficient way to use Kyogo would be to have him as a winger for much of the game, then shift him to the striker position in the second half when substitutions are made. Giakoumakis could go off and Kyogo could look to exploit tired legs.

Celtic’s controlling style has taken its toll on both Ferencvaros and St Johnstone in recent matches, with a variety of chances created in the last 20 minutes of both games after making them chase the ball for so long. That could be the perfect time to have Furuhashi try and pick them off.

So while the narrative has been you have to use Giakoumakis at the expense of Kyogo through the middle, there are options and solutions available to the Celtic boss that can give the team the best of both worlds on a regular basis.

In other news, Referee handed lower league assignment after Celtic Park shocker; Bhoys get Robertson.