For Those Chasing Celtic, The Latest “Oh My God” Moment Arrived This Weekend.

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Evolution is important. Ibrox’s failure to evolve either its team or its fans has them on the precipice of a chaotic and dangerous summer. Celtic thrives right now because it’s constantly moving forward and Ange has instilled that into the team. He talks not about an end point but about never setting one because eventually that would break the momentum.

Looking at where this club was this time last season and where it is now, you can see the progress and how we’ve come along. The guy who was heading for the top of the SPFL scoring charts is no longer in the building; none of us would have predicted that then. The Croatian right back who was such a fine signing, has already gone too. These moves would once have generated shockwaves. In point of fact, this club has only grown stronger.

There is a simplicity to what Ange Postecoglou has done here which if you’d explained it to people at the start, or tried to, they would never have believed that it could achieve success, so straightforward is it, at least on the surface.

Sign players to perform certain roles. Don’t put square pegs in round holes. Have enough quality in the squad that you can rotate. But make sure that when you are signing a striker you don’t sign the same type of player as the one you’ve got already. Because if you have different skill-sets then if something isn’t working you’re not making a like-for-like substitution but fundamentally changing the way the team approaches the game.

This is elementary stuff, or it seems to be. Actually, it’s got all the complexity of a symphony. It takes a certain critical eye to see where all the pieces fit. A very special talent is required.

There are all sorts of things in this life which look easy, enough so that people who really shouldn’t be attempting them have tried to. Writing is one of them. On the surface of it, this is merely the act of putting words onto a page, and anyone can do that.

But we’ve all read Kris Boyd and Keevins and the output from Glasgow Live and so we know that there’s a Hell of a lot more to it than that. Their work is to real writing what elevator music is to a world class orchestra at the top of its game.

Equally, anyone can hang a painting or lay slabs or put up a garden shed. And the world of full of half-finished, half-assed jobs to demonstrate how difficult it really is, and that’s what this football management gig is like.

Ange just makes it look simple, the way a good musician can write a chart-topping song in a shockingly short span of time; Noel Gallagher has talked about writing Supersonic in ten minutes. Michael Stipe wrote Losing My Religion just as fast. Sweet Child Of Mine was allegedly written in five. For that skill-set none of that is especially remarkable.

In a season characterised by great leaps forward, I think we saw a very important one this weekend and so did the rest of Scottish football. Our big striker Oh scored our second, and he did so in such a way that no other player in our team would have. Giakoumakis wouldn’t have scored that goal, because although he was a big lad he never struck me as one with that sort of physicality, which surprised me more the more I watched him.

Our whole game pivoted on the moment Oh was introduced. Their defence had coped with each and every effort we made to break them down. It was his coming on which put the fear of God into them, and chipped away at their shape. From the second he took up his position they didn’t seem to know how to act, and they had several warnings at dead balls that he was on the prowl and presented a different sort of threat.

We didn’t have that in the locker before we signed him. He gives us a new, and dangerous, element. He allows us to change up our style of play, although the onus continues to be on attacking football played the right way. He’s a more cultured player than some big bruiser would be, but he can do that job if that job is what’s required and it was required at the weekend and he duly came up with the goods. And that should worry every team in this league.

All of them now play the same way against us, and none of them has been able really to lay a glove on us. But some of them have come close to nicking points they didn’t deserve. Hibs, although down to ten men, probably thought they would … and then Ange made the switch, seeing it clearly, and not just in the personnel but in everything.

Look at the radically different way we worked corner kicks after his introduction. We started putting the ball into the box, to look for him, rather than playing the short corner passing moves we had been struggling to get traction with … our style changed ever so slightly and it paid dividends. That’s a triumph which should be laid at the door of the boss himself.

This was a big weekend. It was another step, albeit small, albeit largely uncommented on in our awful, bog-standard media, in our evolution. It’s just another advance that makes us that little bit better than we were, which of course moves us that little bit further ahead of the rest. That’s a small thing but it’s also everything.

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  • Pan says:

    Very good and insightful article James!

  • Tenaka Khan says:

    It’s starting to worry me now how complacent and blinkered some of us are becoming as we approach the business end of the season. I wanted Oh to be a viable successor to Giakoumakis as much as anyone. Up until Saturday I wasn’t seeing it but he brought it on in spades against Hibs. But he had some advantages in that game that Giakoumakis didn’t usually have. The most obvious one was that he had Kyogo up with him to split the focus of the Hibs defence. Giakoumakis almost never had that luxury. It’s also obvious that since Christmas Ange has got his substitution strategy running like a Rolls Royce now. I really like the look of Oh but it’s a bit early to say he’s an upgrade on Giakoumakis and I think a lot of us are being unfair to Giakoumakis because he chose to leave us.
    Like most of us I can contradict my self every other day when it comes Celtic. Part of me never doubted that we would come back on Saturday but another part of me acknowledges that the unthinkable might have happened. People were raving about our destruction of Hearts but nobody seems to recognise that they were severely weakened in both ties while we were virtually at full strength. Aberdeen trashed the at the weekend when they were fielding a stronger team.
    We’re a better team and squad than Sevco but even though a lot of us won’t hear tell of it they’re capable of giving us a game on their day. I’m happy that Ange and the squad are 100% focused but a lot of our supporters definitely aren’t.

    • Iain Wood says:

      Excellent point re it being a two prong attack on Saturday AND it mustn’t be forgotten that Hibs were (deservedly) down 10 men which means the remaining 9 outfield players have to cover (ca. 10%) more distance to make up for their missing man which eventually creates tired legs , tired minds and bigger gaps to exploit.

      And I totally agree re Rangers – they are gaining a decent level of traction in the league – winning breeds winning as we have seen since game 8 last season. The reality is so far under Beale they have effectively matched us in the league – the 9point gap was already there and the majority of the goal difference already there when he joined. IF he manages to keep that momentum up into next season then it comes down the 4 head to head games and then for me its a 50:50 league!!!

  • Woodyiom says:

    Totally agree re Oh – in fact I think he needs to start some games to give Kyogo a bit of rest and in case we lose Kyogo for a spell – if that were to happen we’d need Oh to be fully match fit/sharp and he’s not going to get that coming off the bench every week with 15-20mins to play (usually when the game is already won and the intensity from both teams has dropped a fair few notches!). Looking at the upcoming games I’d start him vs Ross County and Killie where the games are going to very physical and let Kyogo start the Rangers games for obvious reasons.

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Tbh, ah hadnae seen much so far from Oh thats made me confident. Tho on Saturday he did look sharper and the way he bossed his goal was brilliant. If he continues tae improve, great for him and us. Also important thing about him and Haska gettin the goals, is it’ll only bump up their confidence and make them hungrier for more of it. Think we also had a big reminder, of the the importance of Hetate, when he had tae go aff. His absence stuck oot like a sore thumb.

  • Eldraco says:

    Now your beginning to understand, the 5 man sub rotation . You are witnessing the genises and managers like Ange are the heralds.

    Like gridiron like league football it’s only a matter of time .

    Anyway it was a wonderful sub to have oh and kyogo on at the same time as Hibs were caught in 2 minds .

    BTW there are way too many ads now

    • Martin says:

      Eldraco, couldn’t agree more. I think I had to scroll the equivalent of 100m to get to the comments. And God forbid you try to read the first comment- another 20m of ads bump it down.

  • Effarr says:

    Tongue in cheek here in case anyone gets angry. Should Celtic sign Tavernier to land the ball on Oh’s napper?

    • Tenaka Khan says:

      That’s not as stupid as it sounds. There have been a few players who had promise over there and with a coach like Ange they might have fulfilled their potential. Ange would have programmed a young Tavernier to not ignore his tracking back and this would have made him twice the player. Fortunately for us they stayed with the policy of signing cheque book managers even when they didn’t have a cheque book.

  • Mark says:

    Supersonic sounds like it was written in 10 minutes with 9 of them taken-up waiting for nursery kids to call him with the lyrics.

  • John S says:

    Oh provides a different type of option.

  • Johnno says:

    Believe OH will be another great signing for ourselves.
    Still a very young player and being very wisely used by Ange in getting him up to speed and understanding our patterns and systems of play.
    Already can see how much the club means to him by the celebrations of such an important well taken goal.
    This should only increase his confidence in front of goal, a thing all good stickers thrive upon.
    The physicality OH offers us is another great option to have especially against teams like hibs reducing the level of space for kyogo to operate in, especially with trying to find that killer pass/cross into such a small window.
    OH offers us a bigger window to put telling balls into with more opportunities available for the 2nd ball.
    Believe this will improve when the team becomes better used to OH and OH likewise also.
    To have great options from the bench is so important nowadays and shows just how much influence they can still provide in the outcome of a game as Saturday proved

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