The creative problem Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou has remedied

By Euan Davidson

March 11, 2022

When Ange Postecoglou took over at Celtic, there were a laundry list of headaches and concerns for him to consider.

Chief amongst those was the future of some key creative players. Ryan Christie, sometimes unfairly lambasted despite his output, definitely seemed on his way out. Mohamed Elyounoussi, typically reliable for a defence-splitting pass or whipped cross, was already away.

Ange Postecoglou also had a problem with Celtic’s forwards. He had a Leigh Griffiths and Odsonne Edouard situation to deal with; both strikers had racked up very decent assist totals over the years. Replacing what was there, and integrating new talent to find solutions, was always going to be an issue.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Yet, Celtic are a far more explorative, dynamic force than last season. Goal contributions have come from, frankly, everywhere, and it’s an absolute gift for the forward players.

While Ryan Christie’s 15 assists total from last season was impressive [Transfermarkt], replacing that output hasn’t been much of a problem at all. Far more players this season are getting involved in the build-up play and it’s paying dividends.

Across all competitions, 24 different Celtic players have provided at least one assist. Liel Abada leads the way with 11, with Tom Rogic and David Turnbull not far behind, on 10 and 9 respectively.

But it’s the variety of positions creating chances that’s most compelling. Anthony Ralston, in a real breakout season, has come up with 7 assists. Greg Taylor and Liam Scales need to catch up on the other side, but with 2 each at this point in the season, it’s not too bad at all.

Across the pitch, from front to back, we have players capable of unlocking the door. Even guys like Adam Montgomery have contributed, now out loan at Aberdeen, while centre-back pairing Carter-Vickers and Starfelt have got in amongst it, too.

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Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou has a squad of players all looking to get creative

Compare it to last season. If a few key players weren’t contributing, we had a real problem. Again, Christie was much-maligned, but his ability to find a man in space, particularly over the last two seasons, was unreal.

Ditto Elyounoussi, who looked as though he’d be one of the harder players to replace. On the left-wing, Jota has already out-assisted the Norwegian international, and we’re only in March.

The key thing about all this? Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou has built a really unselfish squad. You can see the camaraderie in the goal celebrations, in the little rituals. Equally, you can hear it in the way the players talk. At Celtic, what Ange Postecoglou has done is he’s fostered a real togetherness.

Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

It’s all fine and well saying that exists, but the proof is in the pudding. There’s just a real willingness to work that bit harder for players to set up their teammates. That, and a system which puts emphasis on passing in the opposition’s final third, work space, and constantly having options nearby.

We see it in the link-ups and on-pitch rotations. We see it when we find the name of Celtic next to big-hitters like Manchester City and Real Madrid in statistical areas.

This is just the first season of a new era at Celtic for Ange Postecoglou. If you ask him, he’ll tell you this team isn’t nearly at its full potential yet.

From a creative point of view, that’s a scary thought for anyone facing Celtic over the next number of years.

Read more: Celtic’s stellar record against Dundee United should ignite Hoops with confidence