What Ange Postecoglou's "bigger and better" Celtic vision could look like
We all remember the moment that caught our attention the most during the title celebrations last month.
Ange Postecoglou stood in front of the Celtic supporters and stated that next season they would come back “bigger and better” after securing a double in his debut season [Daily Record]. The announcement from the manager sending goosebumps all through the Parkhead support as thoughts were immediately pushed forward towards next season.
For Ange’s Celtic revolution remains in its infancy. The end goal was never to just secure the Premiership title. It was to build a team that epitomises his philosophy and can make a splash at the highest level. That being the UEFA Champions League, which we’ll enter next season.
It’s of course important to mention that Ange isn’t saying we’re going to be the perfect outfit next year. You still feel we’re some way from where he believes his rebuild will be complete. But when the terms “bigger and better” are put to the support, it suggests one thing – a substantial improvement.
Firstly, Ange was likely talking about a real boost when it comes to strength in depth. The Hoops at times had to rely on players that just weren’t up to it during the first half of the 2021/22 season in particular. Players who either had no real future here or weren’t quite ready for the step-up.
Take the likes of Ismaila Soro, Mikey Johnston, and Adam Montgomery to name a few. Whilst Ange will still keep the door open for revivals such as Anthony Ralston and Greg Taylor showed as well as that of potential up-and-coming youngsters, it’s clear we need better quality in several positions.
The manager wants to be able to take Taylor out of the team and replace him with a high-class full-back. He wants to have more proven competition in the middle of the park. He doesn’t want to be relying on CCV and Carl Starfelt to go through the whole season uninjured just because our back-up options are lacking.
Strength in depth plus defensive improvements must be on Ange’s mind
Strength in depth is a monumental part of what Ange meant when he talked up the prospect of being bigger and better. There are plenty of gaps for improvement in that area.
However, he’s also talking about the evolution of the current squad. And there were no doubt plenty of aspects to the campaign that will have made Ange feel as though improvements were necessary.
The first being how we defended in Europe. As much as the manager isn’t one to tweak his style all too often, he didn’t plan for his Celtic side to concede 27 goals in all of our Euro matches. There was a naivety to our attacking style that was far too easily picked off by European counter-attacks.
If the manager can find a solution to how we defend against more explosive counter-attacking sides, it will be a key stage in this side’s development. Let’s not forget this also cost us in 2 games against Rangers towards the end of the season too. Given we’re up against the best in Europe next season, expect this to be a major focus of improvement.
In addition to that, Celtic had a big issue with defending set-pieces and cross-balls in periods during 2022. The likes of Dundee, Aberdeen, Dundee United, Rangers, and Bodo/Glimt in particular got plenty of joy through corners, set-plays, or low balls across our penalty area. It was one of the few areas teams were able to exploit last season despite us statistically having the best defence in Scotland.
Whilst we don’t expect every single cross that comes into our box to result in a clearance, it’s an area we need to be more efficient in. Especially considering it’s one of the basics of defending.
Better strength in depth so that we can rotate without dropping in quality combined with improvement in our defensive work should be the key components we’re looking to improve upon for next season. We know we have the ability to blow domestic teams away and hurt European sides with our frontline. However, there are still big defensive improvements to be made at a higher level.
Expect these to be Ange’s key focus points heading into next season.