So, if you’re just waking up, Ange Postecoglou is the new Celtic boss.
And while it’s exciting news, there’s little doubt he has some work to do with this squad. Bloated in some areas and lean in others, the Bhoys first team has become a strange mish-mash of players. At the very least, there are some quality pieces there, who have either been part of 9IAR, or look like potential prospects for a run in the first-team.
Barring those who are almost certainly going to leave the club, it’s surely worth having a look at what we have now. Odsonne Edouard and Kristoffer Ajer will need replaced, while others like Olivier Ntcham also look sure to exit Paradise before too much longer.
So, what we’ll deal with primarily are those who look like they’ll be sticking around and would fit in under Postecoglou, and those who might well be out the door.
The Celtic players that Ange Postecoglou will want to keep
Starting in goals, it’s possible there’s a space in Ange Postecoglou’s plans for Vasilis Barkas. The Greek stopper enjoyed an albeit limited run in the first-team towards the end of last season, and was a significant outlay for the Bhoys at £4.5m. Encouragingly, against St Johnstone, Barkas played 33 passes – as many as Glenn Middleton – and had 34 touches of the ball [WhoScored?]. For a high-pressing manager who likes to play it out from the back, Barkas’ composure on the ball could be a useful skill-set.
Scott Bain, however, is a less sure-thing. While his deputy, Conor Hazard, may be able to seek loan opportunities elsewhere, it’s unlikely the former Australia boss will have been enamoured with footage of Bain from the 20-21 season. Sure, he played more than Barkas, but there’s a sense that it was a trust issue as opposed to an ability one.
In defence, Greg Taylor will perhaps face competition from Adam Montgomery or a new left-back, but it’d be bizarre to see him leave. That’s also true of Christopher Jullien and Stephen Welsh, although the latter will need to improve his decision-making incrementally to earn Postecoglou’s trust entirely. Leo Hjelde could have a part to play, especially with the boss’ message this morning about believing in young players.
With Tom Rogic an enthusiastic believer in the new Celtic manager, it’s unlikely the ex-Socceroos gaffer will get rid of him any time soon. In fact, the midfield is the safest part of the team; none of Turnbull, McGregor, Soro, Bitton, Johnston, McGregor or Forrest will leave unless a considerable bid comes in. Christie is a doubt, but if he buys into the Postecoglou system then don’t be surprised to see him sign a new deal.
Who Postecoglou might not fancy
Unsettlingly, there are plenty of candidates here.
Anthony Ralston is an utter mystery. He’s outlasted Neil Lennon, Ronny Deila and Brendan Rodgers so far; will another manager want to keep him around? Bolingoli meanwhile, might appeal to the underdog sensibilities of Ange Postecoglou. But for many Celtic supporters, the idea of him playing for the club again is unpalatable.
As for the strike force, it’s answers on a postcard time. Postecoglou’s tempo and shot creation may actually suit Leigh Griffiths and Albian Ajeti, with more balls into the box, and a higher xG from less than 18 yards than his predecessor. That makes it more of a blow that Odsonne Edouard has surely played his last game for the club.
With rumours around Kevin Nisbet joining [Daily Record], as well as Andre Ayew and Aaron Boupendza, don’t be entirely surprised if we see a brand-new strike force at Celtic Park next season. Griffiths, for one, probably doesn’t have the natural fitness to adapt to Postecoglou’s system entirely. Unless he has an excellent pre-season, it’d be a surprise to see him line up for us in 21-22.
Marian Shved looks like he doesn’t fancy his chances at Celtic, much. There may be a second chance for Vakoun Issouf Bayo, however. Fellow loanees on the verge of the first team, Ewan Henderson and Luca Connell, may see their opportunities limited at the club in the short-term.