Reliable Celtic veteran has repeatedly shown traits needed by Celtic boss

By Euan Davidson

March 8, 2022

On Sunday, when Ange Postecoglou explained why he picked Nir Bitton to start for Celtic, it made perfect sense. After all, it worked to an absolute T.

After the game, Postecoglou explained that Bitton had been “great” for him, had the physical tools to break down Livingston in the middle, and dominated the space. All of those things are true, even when – despite his general assuredness this season – there’s an unease about Bitton featuring in Celtic Starting XIs.

There are plenty of stories of Celtic players either recapturing their form or finding another level this season. Bitton’s midfield partner Callum McGregor definitely fits into that category; primarily used as a 6, Ange opted to put Bitton in that role, with McGregor going further forward.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Celtic created chances at will, and won what was meant to be a tricky game with relative ease in the end. And, for anyone counting, it was another solid display for Israeli international Bitton.

In basketball, they talk about “glue guys”; strong dressing room presences who can also contribute as and when they’re needed [HoopsAddict]. For Celtic and Ange Postecoglou, Bitton is that, to a degree. Far from the third or fourth choice centre-back he was in recent years, he’s become important again.

After all, it’s not just about 11 players. The problem Celtic had last year was a wafer-thin squad and curious decision-making. Played in his best position, it’s no surprise that Bitton has done well. When you need him to come on late and slow the tempo, he can do it.

When you need him to start against congested, low blocks and disrupt things, he can do that, too. All while hitting accurate passes, recovering the ball well, and generally providing a steadying presence.

Taking Celtic to the next level…

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Taking Celtic to the next level…
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Nir Bitton has improved rapidly under Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou – he’ll be key

We talk about renaissance years, Anthony Ralston, Tom Rogic et al included.

Nir Bitton shouldn’t be forgotten in that conversation. With a number of difficult away ties coming up after the split, in all likelihood, guys like Bitton provide a different option for Ange Postecoglou.

Options, of course, are the flavour of this season. Before we got to the January window, we were discussing “options” all the time, and Celtic brought in Hatate, Ideguchi and Matt O’Riley to give the midfield depth. Along with those guys, having a motivated and focused Bitton is a real asset.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

You could argue Celtic lose some zip in the middle when Bitton’s in as a 6. Generally, that’s true; he’s just a slower player than Callum McGregor. But when Celtic were creating chances aplenty against Livingston [WhoScored?] was speed a problem?

No, it absolutely wasn’t.

You need players like Bitton around, frankly. Calm on the ball, with very decent passing range and – generally speaking – good decision-making out of possession, it’s no surprise Ange Postecoglou likes him. He has that grit to him, and he’s been around long enough to know that he won’t be a starting player most weeks.

The value of players like these is enormous in a title race. Every moment from now until the end of the season counts. To have (generally) reliable players like Bitton is a boost, and Ange Postecoglou knows it.

Read more: Tom Rogic’s big improvement under Ange that his Celtic career was crying out for