Did Ange Pick The Wrong Celtic Starting Line-Up On Monday?

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One of the things that all of us know but few of us want to say out loud is that Ange is going to get things wrong and make mistakes as manager. That’s not a criticism. It doesn’t make him less of a good leader.

As he said of the players after the game the other day, it simply makes him human.

And human beings are going to have missteps.

Before the match, I know that one of the little intellectual games we were all involved in was trying to pick our starting eleven.

It’s fair to say that few, if any of us, would have had Johnston and Forrest operating on the right. It’s not a combination that had ever been tried before. These guys have no real understanding of one another.

So it was a strange selection, but when you consider it carefully one that makes more sense than is immediately apparent. Forrest was there precisely because Johnston lacked experience.

If you presume that Juranovic wasn’t fully fit – and he wasn’t, which is why I am not joining the over-the-top chorus demanding he be punted right away – then playing the Canadian from the start is only sensible. Backing him up with the most experienced person in the team, a wide player who works his backside off and does a lot of tracking back, is sensible.

But it deprived us of our best attacking weapon on the right, which is Liel Abada.

From his displays in previous games I can safely say that Barisic probably still goes to bed at night in a cold sweat about facing him.

He had an easier day than he reckoned with.

I love Matt O’Riley and believe we’re looking at the first player the club has had who could breach the £30 million mark for us, either in a direct transfer or in a big deal with the right add-ons. But he is badly off the pace right now and I could not see past us starting with Mooy, who settled the whole midfield the minute he came on.

Did the manager err in not starting him? I think he may wonder about that himself, especially as Mooy played such a critical role in the equaliser. I think his calm, assurance would have been a great asset to us in the game and we might have won more of the midfield battles after they started getting a grip on that area of the pitch.

This is all second guessing, and I feel bad about it in some ways but the debate has to be had or we’re just not being honest with ourselves.

The substitution, putting Juranovic on at left back, was a bad move and I think every one of us would acknowledge that.

He’s not a natural in that position, and as my good friend Matt Marr pointed out to me some months back when Juranovic had been tested in that position several times, putting a right sided full-back on that side of the pitch means that his passing and crossing are all with the wrong foot. His turning circle is wrong. His spatial awareness radar goes wonky.

What’s worse is that it was such an un-necessary move; we had a natural left back on the bench, but presumably this was about having our most experienced man on the field to replace Taylor.

Which raises the question, again, of throwing Johnston in as a debutant.

Johnston handled the game well. If Bernabei can’t be trusted in this sort of fixture, then we have to wonder why he’s in the squad at all. Juranovic was lost at sea yesterday, and whilst I very much doubt that it will have any impact on the fee we get for him it has certainly dented his confidence and shaken the faith of the fans in his ability to focus.

We got a result.

The manager used his resources well in the end, and in going two up front forced their club to its own tactical changes, and one of those was to bring on the absolutely ineffectual and actually quite ludicrous James Sands.

The Mooch decided to play defensively and try and hang onto the lead … a stupid strategy considering that he has already seen what happens to teams which do that, and not that long ago either.

But the manager will do some soul searching over the way we fell out of the game and so should we, and we’re entitled to wonder if the team selection itself was part of the problem.

It was certainly a huge surprise when all of us saw the starting eleven. It was doubtless a surprise to the Ibrox club as well, but not of the sort that might have inflicted an early psychological blow.

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  • S Thonas says:

    I was a little surprised with the starting lineup, but ange sees these guys on the training field, we don’t. He must have seen something, that he thought could have worked at ibrox. Yes I’d rather we got the 3 points, but a draw I will take, considering how the game panned out. Still 9 points, well actually 10 if you consider the goal difference.

  • Neil Smith says:

    We all get things wrong. The trouble here was not changing the obvious as 2 positions/players were not at it. The (injury aside) sticking to rigid times to make subs is wrong. I realise hooking players early can be quite a snub but there is a bigger picture and at half time Forrest and O’Reilly should have been replaced. But still a draw

    • Jonny says:

      This exactly. We were so poor on the ball to end the 1st half we had let them into the game and everyone could see their goals were coming. Lots of managers seem to prefer a 60 / 75 minute ‘sub window’ for reasons unknown to me, ok fine when you’re winning, but absurd when we were playing so badly in such an important game. We got away with it, hopefully it’s a lesson learned, looking at our league fixtures we are only away once to a current top 6 side (St Mirren in March) pre split, so refocus, give them no encouragement and get this title secured.

      • Woodyiom says:

        Excellent point Jonny – one of the biggest strengths of Mourinho as a manager was his ability to change games with early subs – in fact I recall him taking players off inside half an hour and once made all three of his allowed substitutions (as it was then) at half time. It doesn’t matter who the player is or even whether they are playing particularly badly – its the team that counts and if changes to personnel (allied to a change in formation if relevant) are required then they should happen immediately not at half time or after 60mins or after “lets see how the game pans out first” etc

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Shouldve been Mooy and Abada at the start imo. Ye mention Forrests influence and his ability tae track back would have helped Johnston, possibly, tho the fact is, Forrest, apart from the couple of goals he’s managed, has never had a noticible effect in any game against them in all these years. For reasons best known tae himself, always goes absent. Abada also has the pace tae get back and help out his full back, he’s proved he isnt shy in showin balls or aggression when its needed and in these games it definitely is. Why Ange chose an off form o’reilly, over an in form Mooy is a mystery. Bringin on Juranovic instead of Bernabei was another. Anyway, can all make mistakes and learn from them (apart from Hart it seems). Tho, lookin forward tae the next meetin and hopefully we show up this time and put these braggers and their media in their place.

  • Martin says:

    I don’t massively disagree with the starting lineup and his reasoning for Forrest was probably as you suggested. I’d have started Mooy, but O’Riley has terrorised them in the past and few of us would quibble at his inclusion pre game.

    For what it’s worth (not much) these are where I’d have acted differently:

    1. Bernabei on for Taylor at injury. I don’t care for playing people out of position at LB at Ibrox. It’s something Rodgers, Lennon and now Ange have done and each time we regret it.

    2. Mooy and probably Abada on at HT (for O’Riley and Forrest). If not at HT then at least when they equalised. Our midfield wasn’t functioning as well as we would have liked and to leave it until we’re 2-1 down as a mistake. Through the 1st half we could see AJ was doing fine so didn’t need “experience” beside him. O’Riley wasn’t at his best. Form dips happen, nothing to worry about…but that’s why we have subs.

    I think with these changes when we’re still 1-0 up we win that game.

  • Jimmy R says:

    I agree totally with your analysis re: Ange is human and the right side pairing. Everything else is 2nd guessing. Nobody outside the camp knows precisely who was 100% and who wasn’t. Smoke and mirrors are commonly used to mask injured / ill players. Losing Taylor so early meant that we had no settled partnerships between winger full back on either side of the pitch. This, in my opinion, cost us much of our coherence and fluidity in attack. We had plenty of the ball but didn’t use it (5 shots, 2 on target from 60% possession.) The low number of shots stemmed from the failure to penetrate in the final third. Who are instrumental in our penetration? Full back / winger combinations who keep defenders guessing who is going inside / outside and ultimately make space. This rarely happened on Monday.
    Anybody slating Juranovic to the extent that we should get rid is crazy. He was played out of position in his 1st game in a month. Anybody who thinks that his poor performance should mean him being binned is in the same league as those who want to sign somebody based on one good game. That’s not how football works.

    • John Copeland , says:

      The team Ange selected to start the game scored away from home in under 5minutes ! If that’s the wrong team selection then I give up …Also ,we did not lose the game . Granted he made significant substitution choices and ultimately coming from behind with minutes to go … That’s champions quality ,In my book. If you were asked pre game if a draw would be acceptable ,I believe your answer would have been yes ! Remember that everything was done to ensure a the Rangers win by the officials too…

      • Iain Wood says:

        John – I agree a lot of us would have taken a draw beforehand (me included and I said so many days ago) and 100% of us would have taken it when the clocked ticked 87mins but we didn’t score after 5mins because Ange may or may not have got his team selection right! We scored after 5mins because Morelos played a shocking blind cross field pass that Maeda was on to in a flash and, after Tavernier also fluffed his pass to Goldson, ran through and buried it past McGregor. only ONE of our players was involved in the goal – Maeda – no other Celtic player touched the ball or had any influence whatsoever in it. In fact 2 Rangers players had more influence than the rest of the Celtic team so scoring after 5mins does not prove that the right team was selected – it only (arguably) confirms that picking Maeda was correct but we all knew that already anyway!

  • Eldraco says:

    Ange made his worse team selection almost across the park apart from CCv and calmac and our asian boys , Taylor should never have started as he was buggered with flu, Hart has needed to be dropped for ages, starfelt ditto, mooey started, Johnston great game , Forrest is known for going AWOL so should be a sub and jura on abada start for Taylor . And just for the sheer hell of it go 343. Attack!!! Lol.

  • Henry Robertson says:

    It’s pretty clear ange couldn’t field the team he wanted either through injury or illness we take the point and move on

  • Geoff says:

    Taylor going of was the big turning point.
    He had been feeding Maeda perfectly who was giving Tavernier nightmares.
    Juranovics first three passes went straight to the opposition.
    Maeda no longer in the game so Tavernier able to venture further forward.
    Abada scares them so a mistake not to start him.
    O’Riley should have been subbed at the interval if not on the bench from the start.
    Great decision to go with a front four to chase the equaliser or possibly winner.
    Rumours of a bug sweeping the squad before the game might well have had a big say in deciding the starting 11 and timing of the subs?
    What do I know?
    I was calling for this big Clown to be sacked last September.

  • Johnny Green says:

    Ange obviously does not rate Bernabei well enough for him to be playing in that game and I don’t blame him for that, but I do blame him for signing him in the first place. O’Riley has been off form since the break and should have been dropped by now. Joe Hart is also needing dropped, it is time to give Siegrist a run in the team. With the new signings arriving there are bound to be changes coming soon anyway, not a bad thing as the team does needs freshening up. I also hope we buy a new quality LB before next season.

    • Darren Kerr says:

      There is nothing wrong with Bernadei and he came on against Hibs and was great. Don’t put him on the bench if you don’t trust him to play most of the game if needed. The guy looks ok to me and time on the park will help him develop, look at Taylors rapid improvement. Ange under pressure made the wrong decision, it happens and he gets a pass. Forrest for the last 3 years would never be near my first team, just don’t like his style of play and I think he’s soft. Abada should have started and ran the legs off Barasic, guaranteed we would have scored again first half and this alone would have protected an unknown in Johnston. I have no loyalty to a player due to his past endeavours. O’Reilly is an enigma to me. I’ve played against better players in the English non league. Don’t rate him, bad body shape and balance, one paced, telegraphs passes, poor weight of ball and highly inaccurate on all ranges of passes save the Jota pass in first derby, he’s at best a sub. Hart is a poor keeper, didn’t rate him in his England days. CCV was a giant and won us that game, for the most part Starfelt is good but has a calamity in him and fights hard, Johnston looked cool and strong and will settle and learn. Taylor looked great while on. Calmac was good while we were good, then got lost. Hatate was a joy to watch, they couldn’t handle him. Im hoping Iwate will compliment him nicely allowing Calmac to push on one and drop O’Reilly. Need a new spearhead forward as GG is off to new pastures in Jan or end of season. All in all a great result when it was essentially last chance saloon for them at Mordor. They are one dimensional and have nothing that worries me re winning the league other than cheating VAR.

      • Jorge says:

        Well presented analysis, although I don’t agree about O’Reilly. Of particular interest however is the comment that ‘Calmac was good while we were good, then got lost’. I think you could say that about most games we play. That we are good in most of them reflects well on him. Maybe a coincidence but O’Reilly was superb prior to the break and his form has slumped since Calmac has come back into the team.

  • SSMPM says:

    Ange, not for the first time, made mistakes. No doubt. Mooy thankfully rescued and restored the midfield from the O’Riley, Forrest and Jura misjudgements. If Bernabei isn’t a left back fit and able to play why did Ange waste our money on him. Of course we don’t know how affected by illness our squad was ie Bernabei but Ange defo got it wrong bringing on an under the weather Jura.
    He may have thought he was pulling a surprise, he was defo pulling something, with Forrest who rarely if ever produces against the huns. Johnson though done well, is no novice and is a WC experienced player. It just shows what a difference the loss of, the in form all season, Taylor made. When he left the park through injury we lost all progressive momentum. There’s no current failure in our left back position, there’s a lack of confidence in Bernabei as a replacement, but that failure then lies with and in Ange’s head.

    • Darren Kerr says:

      Spot on assessment.

    • Martin.H says:

      Mooy must start, Jota right wing but saying that I thought the panic set in when Hart made a balls up of the pass from the back, the team look from him for a bit of stability, and he made a major error.

  • Woodyiom says:

    Did Ange Pick The Wrong Celtic Starting Line-Up On Monday? In a word YES.

    None of us know the extent of the bug and how many players it affected, or how badly, nor do we know who does what in training or who may have niggling injuries or knocks but what we do know is what we see on the pitch week in week out.

    Since the restart Matt O’Riley has not kicked a ball whilst Mooy finally looks the player that Ange knew he would be once up to speed – he should have started. Wee Jamesy literally disappears against Rangers (especially at Ibrox) and Barisic must have thought all his Christmas’ had come at once when he seen James’ name on the teamsheet and not Abada’s – Liel should have started. Johnston played all three of Canada’s games in the WC (against Belgium, Croatia and Morocco) – he was experienced enough and Abada is capable of tracking back as well as Forrest does (who can’t tackle a fish supper in any event). If Ange was worried for Johnston then he should have picked JJ from the start – he was on the bench so must have been fit enough to play some part in the game (and ended up playing 70mins anyway which proves he was fit enough).

    As for the decision to choose JJ rather than Bernabei when Taylor got injured – suffice to say it backfired spectacularly!! As an aside goodness knows what that’s done to Bernabei’s confidence but clearly Ange doesn’t trust him so that looks like a massive £3.75m error!

    Ange is human and will make mistakes (like all of us) but some mistakes are preventable using historical knowledge and a bit of foresight – picking Forrest and O’Riley were preventable mistakes.

  • Frank Connelly says:

    Two real positives for me. CCV was outstanding. Johnston I loved cos he stuck it to Lundstram at least three times in the game and that was deep joy for me.

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