The Celtic players who can benefit most from new Postecoglou training methods

By Euan Davidson

June 30, 2021

See when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of training, and actually seeing Celtic players turn up to work under Postecoglou? That breeds positivity.

It’s infectious at the moment. Clips, interviews and photos from training sessions have been greedily gobbled up by specky journalists and normal supporters alike. There’s something oddly joyous about seeing footballers enjoying what they do for a living. Especially amongst all the drama of the Transfer Window, and after a hugely difficult season.

So, all the focus is on pressing, high-intensity and ball possession, as shared by Liam Shaw. Yes, young players with boundless energy are going to love the high-octane drills. That stands to reason, or at least you’d hope. If we had 18 and 19-year-olds huffing and puffing, but Tom Rogic ready for double sessions, it’d be a huge worry.

For example: Ryan Christie still has the potential to be an asset to Celtic Football Club if he wants to be. Quick passing, one-twos, passing triangles and lung-busting stamina drills will be bread and butter to him. If he stays at Celtic, he really could be a quality player again.

Who can gain most from Postecoglou’s methods, from what we’ve seen so far? Here are some players who could develop their game, or return to winning ways under the new boss.

Forrest: utter class / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

James Forrest: perfect under every coach, including Postecoglou?

If you want utter dedication and consistency, you could do far worse than James Forrest.

Quick addendum: Forrest has been one of our best players of the last decade. Since breaking through, he’s shone for Neil Lennon, Ronny Deila, Brendan Rodgers, then Neil Lennon again. He even adapted to John Kennedy’s breakneck tactical changes from match-to-match, when fit.

An utter game-changer, who needs few opportunities to turn a result around, Forrest could be vital under Postecoglou. As he has been for everyone else he’s worked under. If you’re talking about a high press, and ability to win the ball back, Forrest is supremely underrated. In his best defensive season, 15-16, Forrest averaged 1.6 tackles per 90 [WhoScored?]. There are centre-backs who’d be delighted with that.

You want to talk about quick thinking, accurate passing under pressure and decision making? Forrest has it all.

This training regimen will suit him down to the ground. And even if it didn’t, he’d make it work. If he can avoid injuries, expect him to be a key man for the new Celtic manager.

Stephen Welsh: solid, but a lot to work on / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Stephen Welsh

Decision making. Positioning. Making quick, accurate passes in possession. These are all things Stephen Welsh needed to work on.

His defensive fundamentals are sound; he reads the game quite well, tackles effectively, and can be an aerial presence. However, if he’s going to thrive under Postecoglou, he needs to add some rocket fuel to his boots. The sessions we’ve seen [Celtic FC], then, are absolutely perfect for him.

Under Postecoglou, certain demands are going to be made of our defence. They’re going to have to be organised, able to lure opposition into offside positions, counter-press quickly, and start attacks. Training drills based on fast movement, good decisions in possession and adapting to a high line are crucial here.

So, this is ideal for Stephen Welsh’s development. There’s a really good defender in there, and while it’s wishful to think Postecoglou can come in and automatically improve everyone’s game, sometimes you have to point out the obvious. Stephen Welsh’s game has certain areas for improvement, and those areas seem to be exactly what Postecoglou has the team working on.

Celtic midfielder Ismaila Soro / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Ismaila Soro can be a key player under Ange Postecoglou

Just look at Ismaila Soro.

If you don’t love him, I’m afraid you’re made of stone. This is exactly the kind of training the Ivorian will be up for, based on his game. Ball retention, winning the ball and recycling it quickly; these are already assets of Soro’s game. If fans loved him before, this season could be a real breakthrough. As if 20-21 hadn’t been impressive, if frustrating (not his fault).

Judging by what we’re seeing from training, this is an environment for the Ivorian midfielder to thrive. His boundless energy and work ethic dovetails perfectly with Postecoglou’s philosophies. He’s a player that’ll win you the ball in midfield, and just as quickly, launch an attack with a cute pass, or by switching the play.

It’s still annoying that we didn’t see more of him last season, and it’s not impossible to imagine we were viewing Soro more kindly in comparison to what the Celtic midfield had been serving up. Prior to Soro’s run in the first-team, Scott Brown looked leggy, and Callum McGregor was struggling to make up for the shortfall.

Having the Ivorian come in was a Godsend. He has very obvious potential, and it’d be quite remarkable if he wasn’t already one of Postecoglou’s favourites.

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