Well, Ange has done the right thing with the team selection for tonight, with a number of key players dropping to the bench. This is most certainly the right thing to do. He has one eye on the domestic game, and that’s exactly as it should be.
We are in a major battle for all three honours right here at home. Whilst we’ve put a strong team out on the park tonight, we haven’t gone all-in. The manager is prioritising and I don’t think a single one of us could argue that his priorities are the right ones.
Out goes the captain. Jota. Abada. Hatate. Juranovic. Carter Vickers. They are all rested up, with the weekend in mind, a tough trip to Easter Road. Into the team comes Forrest, Welsh and Bitton. Maeda plays wide left. Giakoumakis starts as our striker.
If I could have selected the manager’s team for him this is the one I would have picked. There is no need for us to pick this particular ditch to die in; a crap plastic surface, bad conditions, a tie where we’re two goals behind on a tricky away ground … it would have been madness to come here and risk everyone and everything and go for broke in the third tier UEFA competition, and Ange Postecoglou understands that full well.
All I want is a performance tonight, as I said in a piece earlier in the week. All we want to see is this team put up a fight. But not one which leaves us bloodied on the canvas; if we’re using military analogies right now (and it seems like an opportune moment) then our tactics should be to hurt this lot without risking a full frontal assault.
Tonight is about giving a good account … but the real work still waits for us here at home and with his team selection tonight Ange has acknowledged that fact. He deserves credit for it. On no account should anyone be moaning in the aftermath.
TEAM: Hart; Ralston, Welsh, Starfelt, Scales; O’Riley, Bitton, Rogic; Forrest, Giakoumakis, Maeda.
Subs: Bain, Olyewemi, Juranovic, Carter-Vickers, Jullien, Taylor, McGregor, Hatate, Abada, McCarthy and Jota.