The selection luxury Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou is about to have for the first time

By Euan Davidson

March 9, 2022

When Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou welcomes David Turnbull back, it’ll be a considerable boost.

After all, the Scotland midfielder, last season’s Celtic Player of the Year, was an ever-present when Ange Postecoglou first took up residence in the Hoops’ dugout. We’ve already discussed what he can do from an attacking perspective.

Before getting injured in the Premier Sports Cup final, he played a whopping 34 games, scoring 9 and assisting 7 [Transfermarkt]. He managed to fit a season’s work into just a handful of months. It was extremely impressive stuff from the former Motherwell man, albeit he had struggles adapting early on.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The Celtic midfield he’s returning to, though, is drastically different. Ange Postecoglou recruited smartly, bringing in Yosuke Ideguchi, Matt O’Riley and Reo Hatate. There’s creativity abounds there, and with Tom Rogic still very much doing his thing, something absolutely vital: choice.

Choice, you see, was something Postecoglou just didn’t have before. Prior to the January window, Rogic and Turnbull played over 60 games combined. Good players, certainly, but from an attacking perspective, there wasn’t much variety if either had an off-game.

This isn’t necessarily to say that Turnbull has a fight on his hands – on his day, he’s outstanding. Instead, it’s worth reviewing the options we have in midfield. Against Livingston, Bitton was on hand to help Celtic secure a 3-1 win. That allowed Callum McGregor to maraud forward.

If you want something different, Ideguchi offers a less physically robust but technically superior option. You could have McGregor and any of Hatate, O’Riley, Rogic and Turnbull next to him. Even James McCarthy, seldom seen in a Celtic jersey, is in the pool of talents Ange has to choose from.

Taking Celtic to the next level…

Taking Celtic to the next level…
67 Hail Hail (Youtube)

Ange Postecoglou has the luxury of choice in his Celtic midfield at last

It can’t be understated how vital that is; with several challenges up ahead, and so much at stake, Ange Postecoglou could pick multiple different combinations in the middle of the park.

And while yes, he has a steadfast commitment to a brand of football, personnel can be chopped and changed to meet certain needs. As was the case when Bitton came in on Sunday.

In a title race, having versatility and different approaches really is crucial. Last season, we lacked wingers, and were forced to use the likes of Ryan Christie out wide, blunting our sharpness through the middle. Ange Postecoglou, now, doesn’t have to do that.

Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

And on Christie; the only real criticism you could have from the summer was that Celtic didn’t adequately replace the Scotland international, nor Olivier Ntcham. Granted, Ntcham’s latter form for the Hoops meant there wasn’t much worry. That said, different kinds of midfielders suit different needs.

It’s a far, far better scenario than what we had before, with utter reliance on Turnbull and Rogic to come up with the goods consistently. Now, Turnbull can come back at his own pace, and have a say in Celtic’s title bid. The players around him have excelled in his absence.

Ange Postecoglou wanted a squad that was stronger at the end of the season than the start.

Suffice it to say, he’s got just that.

Read more: Former Premier League striker lauds Celtic boss Ange for “swatting” ridiculous critics