The Celtic problem exposed last night that needs long-term answer from Postecoglou
Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou made plenty of surprising decisions last night.
Chief amongst them was dropping Greg Taylor, leaving Josip Juranovic on the bench, and playing Liam Scales at left-back last night.
Now, Liam Scales, signed from Shamrock Rovers in the summer, has been a player that’s impressed me this season. On song, his deliveries are excellent, he doesn’t shy from 50/50s, and he’s excellent at getting into central areas. As an inverted full-back, he could prove to be a useful Celtic option long-term for Postecoglou.
Last night, though, his weaknesses were exposed. It was a game that he just couldn’t get to grips with. Normally, his passing is crisp and on target, but he made several sloppy distributions against Bodo/Glimt, losing the ball repeatedly. Just one of four long balls hit the mark.
Equally, he didn’t offer a great deal defensively. He won less than half of his ground duels [Fotmob], gave away three fouls and picked up a yellow card.
It won’t be a performance that either he or Ange Postecoglou will be keen to dwell on. Surely, the sensible option would’ve been to bring on Josip Juranovic to counter Ola Solbakken. Instead, Solbakken did the same as last week; provided a considerable threat on Celtic’s left-hand side.
Greg Taylor struggled in the home game, Scales in the away game. Domestically, we’ve seen both Taylor and Scales put in excellent performances. But do either have enough for the European level, at this point? Honestly, the evidence doesn’t suggest so.
Celtic and Postecoglou will surely strengthen in the summer, will left-back be a priority?
Given that Boli Bolingoli and Adam Montgomery are both out loan, with the former surely destined to leave permanently, Taylor and Scales are the recognised rotation at left-back.
And, again, domestically that’s been fine. Taylor receives a lot of criticism but he’s adjusted pretty well overall to Ange Postecoglou’s system. It’s the intensity of European competition where he’s largely struggled. But we’ve seen him run the show against Rangers, and in other domestic tests. We know he has quality.
Scales, too, is a player with potential and positional versatility. However, it’s probably the area where Celtic could most use an upgrade. Ange Postecoglou will likely be aware of that, and it might lead to some uncomfortable conversations in the future.
Yes, domestic competition is absolutely the focus now. As it absolutely should be. However, it was the left-flank where Bodo/Glimt did most of their damage, and that’s seen us exit a European competition. Nobody at Celtic will be happy with that, least of all Ange Postecoglou.
When the summer comes, we know the boss will have targets in mind to bolster this Celtic squad. To make us a more efficient European outfit, from back to front.
Unfortunately, something might have to give, and that’s most likely the left-back position. That is, unless Taylor and Scales can show they really have what it takes to represent Celtic across multiple fronts.