The Moment That Changed The Game Wasn’t The Red. It Was Celtic’s Half Time Change.

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The laziest narrative in football commentary is that if there’s a major refereeing call in a game that it must have changed the outcome. It is especially useful when a decision falls Celtic’s way, even if it was the one key decision that did all afternoon.

St Mirren’s red card this afternoon is not what changed the game.

This is a classic example of what’s known as the correlation/causation fallacy.

To use the Latin expression, Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc. After it therefore because of it.

In this case, one thing did not cause the other.

No, what changed that game was that the manager made a brilliant half time substitution and told the players to start trying to pass and run through the St Mirren defence rather than aimlessly crossing it into a packed penalty area.

This is one of my pet hates, and we used to watch Neil Lennon’s team do this nearly every week. It is ABC stuff, a second rate brand of football that a lot of teams could read easily.

Once they adapted to it every team who came up against us knew how to stop us.

But the way we play under Ange, the best of our stuff happens when players don’t simply cross it from wide but use the ball and run at the defenders. Pass and move, football on the deck, and there are few players in our team who do it better than Abada.

If you look at how they played against us today, all they did when they went down to ten men was sacrificed their counter-attacking out-ball to maintain their defensive shape.

They still had the same number of men behind the ball, determined to stop us, so this wasn’t that we were facing a less packed penalty box … it’s because we changed our style and started to play the football again that has got us to the summit and on the brink of the title.

And once we stopped those crosses into a packed penalty area and started to pass and move on the edge of their box, we stripped them. We absolutely gave them a second half going over.

Abada was rightly named man of the match … which suggests, rightly, that he has a much better claim to having changed the game than the ref did.

The man who is responsible for it is Ange Postecoglou. He saw how that first half was going, knew what needed to be done to put it right, acted at half time and we never looked back.

Five second half goals, and the substitution clearly the right one.

But the media will have you believe it was the officials who changed the course of the game, as if St Mirren were assured the three points up until that moment.

Do not listen to any of it.

This was a managerial masterclass this afternoon and a stupendous performance from a substitute who grabbed his chance, and the game, by the scruff of the neck.

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  • John says:

    The ref was shocking today

  • Johnno says:

    Agreed that the impact of abada was greater than the sending off also.
    Meada hasn’t played that well with the football in the last couple of games, and abada a much better choice against a team sitting far deeper imo.
    Will still be interesting to see who Ange opts for against the mini huns in the cup?
    Still think meada will get the start for that one with abada getting the starting role midweek

  • Scud Missile says:

    I can just see the BOOZE JOCKEY Jackass Jackson getting his ducks in a row just now ready to type away to his heart content with another article rubbishing our manager.
    You can read it all tomorrow all negative and BITCHY about bug Ange but all positive about sevco and Beale,remember this is him doing LIEWELL dirty work for him,these heavy duty hits aimed at our club and manager have only went another gear since LIEWELL return.

    • Johnny Green says:

      Nurse! Please get the straightjaiket back on him and return him to his padded cell, Scud should not be released onto an unsuspecting public.

      You know it makes sense. 🙂

  • BJM says:

    At half time thinking take a defender off and put oh on play 2 up top. Suppose that’s why I’ll be sitting at break time tomorrow eating my sandwich with a flask of tea and ange is the absolute quality professional master manager . Dare I say it shades of big jock.

  • jrm63 says:

    Abada is great running at the edge of the box. As a right winger he is useless. Play him as part of a narrow front 3

  • Johnny Green says:

    Both Maeda and Jota were making little contribution in the first half, the substitution was exactly the right thing to do.

  • SSMPM says:

    I’m increasingly impressed with Abada. He’s not always consistently maintaining that high standard, but not many can produce the energy levels necessary every game. Maeda has done well since the WC but right now it seems like he could do with a re-energising rest up and Abada is on his game so rotating them for now makes sense. 11 to go. HH

  • Michael McCartney says:

    Celtic have a great bunch of players who can all contribute in so many different ways. I know that the saying most used is “It’s all about opinions”, the only person who’s opinion I’m interested in is Big Ange’s. The guy is up their with Big Jock in stature and tactical awareness, let’s hope he’s at Celtic Park for many more years.

  • Malc says:

    While you make a great point here James, you are maybe forgetting the fact that if the media were to make the same it would mean having to give Ange and Celtic some credit – which we all know they are incapable of doing. It suits them and their agenda to say the red card changed the game.

  • Finbar muldoon says:

    If Celts had scored after Taylor “handball”, would the goal have been allowed to stand? Given var took 3 minutes to pull it back. Huns.HH

    • Martin says:

      No, it wouldn’t have. With a var intervention play is deemed to be stopped at the point of whatever they are reviewing. It would’ve been chopped off. Actually I think it was a penalty, but the delays are annoying.

      As for the red card. Whether it changed the game or not is irrelevant, it was undeniably a red card. There’s not a single situation in which that’s not a red. It was so obviously a DOGSO red. I actually also agree with the free kick rather than penalty, but with a huge caveat…that being that it’s the same as Tillman vs Thistle. That’s the issue in Scotland, we’re not being refereed to the same standard across the board.

      I’d probably have booked the St Mirrsn player for our penalty as well, but that’s not really a material change.

      Abada definitely changed the game. I think it’s a sign that we have many different tools in our box and when we need to select a different one we can. One worry I have is the lack of rotation. Ange talks about it at times and I genet agree, but for weeks our starting XI has been predictable. That may cause squad problems later. Or it may be a case of win the damn thing then rotate people in more to get them up to speed. I particularly think Siegrist needs game time. No harm to Hart, but he’s at the “succession planning” stage of his career.

  • Stevie Bhoy says:

    I actually said to my mate at the red card that I thought it would make breaking them down even harder given the way we played the first half.
    I’m not Abada’s biggest fan but I thought he was absolutely superb in the second half and fully deserved the MOTM.
    On reflection it vindicates Ange’s squad rotation as the subs today looked fresh and they all scored. I honestly can’t think of a game where four subs have all scored.
    Onwards to the next game one at a time.
    That’s why we’ll be champions.

  • Zeddy says:

    The subs at halftime should Ange’ has a true grip on watching what’s happening Infront of him and more importantly what to do about it .
    However I think the turning point was the introduction of Watt by the Saints. Didn’t understand it at the time and still don’t.

  • Bob (original) says:

    Must admit, I wanted Jota hooked at half-time for Haksa.

    What do I know?!

    After a poor first half – and not briliiant last week – Jota’s tail will be up now, after that extremely well taken / cheeky goal.

    If Jota had been hooked at half-time, his head would be down – and the SMSM would gleefully have him labelled as being in a slump.

    Think Jota will have a blinder against Hertz on Wednesday.

    Ange knows what he’s doing, obviously!

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Unbelievable that sportscene completely ignored whether the kyogo incident was a pen or not. Not a word. Only focused on the red card. Paid enough attention tae our 2nd from Ally Johnston tho, sayin it shouldn’t have stood. Obviously seriously hurtin these bbc directors we’re winnin.

    • Martin says:

      To be honest the correct decision was reached so it’s hardly worth pouring over (again, I know about the Tillman one- that was wrong, that doesn’t mean this one wasn’t right). Initially ref though contact continued into the box, VAR showed it didn’t (IMPORTANT INFORMATION THAT EVERYONE WILL IGNORE ALERT: part of Kyogo may have been in the box, the hand that was fouling him wasn’t- that’s where the foul occurred so it’s a free kick). VAR did that job well. The question is would it have if Ibrox had been given the penalty/

  • Eire goCeltic says:

    I thank St Mirren for their consideration in using the Black Jersey.
    The send off would have allayed our fears to a degree. The more direct body challenge
    approach in the goal area worked. Alistair’s jump, bump and goal was a beauty. All the 21 players listed at their best could take the field and help beat all SPL teams. The rotation is working magnificently.
    Because some players are on the field for less than the full match and they are in superb fitness condition, I believe Celtic are benefiting from less soft tissue and possibly ligament injuries. Would this be correct? With this in mind all augurs well for the Hearts double-header. Hearts will be
    “full bore” from the start. Exciting games ahead.

  • Eire goCeltic says:

    Just to explain: The rotation used by Ange and John, can mean the average player aerobic fitness level is higher/minute played, same with sprint speed/minute, high skills execution/minute, better avoidance of injury, higher ball possession/min and higher skill in decision making /average player/minute played. Maybe I am wrong. The low injury rate is due to luck. Some of our injuries this season, have occurred in training. You have to expect this. All’s well.

  • Jack says:

    Big Ange realised Maeda wasn’t getting any joy the way St Mirren were defending. He liked to get beyond the fullback and they were playing deep enough to keep him in check. Bringing Abada on was a shrewd response to this. Well done Celtic for undoing a typical Park the Bus attempt by the Buddies.

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