Ange’s Support For O’Riley Is The Reason The Celtic Players Respect The Man So Much.

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Last night, the media ran Ange’s comments on Matt O’Riley. I wrote about Matt earlier in the week, and how good it was to see him back doing what he does best in the team. Or at least what we think he does best.

But the manager … man oh man, his comments were excellent. He talked about a contribution that goes way beyond the sexy stuff, the goals and assists, and reminded us that there are times when we are all watching football the wrong way.

I have to say, that isn’t the case with Celtic fans as much as it once was.

Our support has become very sophisticated thanks to a handful of guys who write and talk about tactics and analytics and expand on our knowledge base. I love to write and talk about tactics and set ups and I like to do basic tactical analysis, but these guys are way ahead of anything I can do in that regard, guys like Alan Morrison and the like, who really know their stuff.

And what we’ve all learned from these guys is that you have to consider the role every player has in the team and how they perform in that role. It’s not even necessarily about what they do when they are on the ball.

95% of the good work a player does in a game happens off the ball. Is a defender blocking a pass? If a forward peels left and his marker follows him that creates the space for an attacking midfielder to exploit … that’s a simplistic example, but that’s the kind of stuff that more and more of our fans are beginning to understand.

Ange pointed out some salient details about Matt O’Riley.

Yes, he gets goals and yes he gets assists, but some of his best games were when he stepped up to take the place of Callum McGregor, an entirely different role that involves doing the dirty work of breaking up opposition moves, moving the ball from the back to the front, the simple act of marking and making crucial interceptions when someone is attempting a pass.

This is what Callum does magnificently every week and it’s why I was so pleased to see him win Player of the Year last season and why I think he’s got a good chance of winning it again in this campaign.

That’s not sexy stuff. It’s why analysts call that section of the pitch “the engine room.” It’s where the hard graft goes on. And yet that’s the stuff that powers the whole football machine at Celtic. Callum McGregor is the engineer, if you like, and it’s a hell of a thing to be asked to step into that job and do what he does … and Matt O’Riley did it superbly.

And Ange wanted us to know that, or more appropriately, to remember it.

“I keep telling the lads the most important opinion, the one that really counts, is the one within these walls. And Matt has had nothing but positive feedback from us,” he said. I think he’s shown sustained growth this year. It’s his second year playing at such a high level – 18 months, really, given we signed him halfway through last season. He has taken on some enormous challenges this year. He’s played Champions League football; he’s played a couple of different positions for us. I’m delighted that at the age of 22 what he’s achieved for us so far – and there is even more to come.”

This, right here, is why the players have such great respect for Ange.

This is how you run a dressing room, how you manage men. You don’t go in front of the media with a cup semi-final looming and tell the hacks that the squad has “taken (us) as far as it can.”

You treat them warmly. You back them. You support them through their lean spells.

You give them every encouragement.

That’s how they come through. That’s how Matt O’Riley has come through. We’ve had another glimpse at how Ange runs the show … and as ever what we’re seeing is a manager with many gifts, and who is the epitome of class.

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  • Johnny Green says:

    If that is the case then, hopefully the best is yet to come. He did play well when he stepped in and played the holding role and it was appreciated by all of us. However when he stepped back into the attacking midfield role he was very ineffective no matter what his work rate off the ball gave us, in fact I did not really notice that particular contribution?. He must have left Callum with his shooting boots, for that talent certainly seemed to escape him completely. He’s 22, not a project, and I was expecting more from him after he had burst onto the scene so well last season. Let’s hope then that he has regained his mojo and contributes more to the team effort going forward.

  • SSMPM says:

    If you’ve ever played in the engine room you’ll know you pick up a lot of niggling injuries. Being 22 is still a young age and playing in differing position with differing expectations and impacts on the body is development of a player. In no way at 22 are you a finished product. It’s not football manager, media driven comfy chair tv football. O’Riley is a human being with physical and mental challenges. All that stopping, starting, twisting and turning plays havoc on the body’s suspension, knees, hips, ankles, feet, hips, etc, and in a sports science arena his body is still developing and adapting to the stresses and strains of that.
    He had injuries recently. That’s why those plastic, no give, pitches at killie and livingston can be harmful. Our game is much faster paced requiring more bursts of energy and expectations on the body even from a few years ago under Lennon and Rodgers. It’s not so sideways passing but pass and move in pre rehearsed units of fast moving play. I’m glad Ange is an understanding knowledgeable manager and not the expectant or else, lose the dressing room type

  • SSMPM says:

    Don’t know how but managed to delete the last bit…”that I believe beale will prove to be”. HH

  • Johnno says:

    Ange has been a brilliant manager that is in no doubt.
    He doesn’t over complicate the demands he expects from his player’s so there is a strong bond between players and management.
    We no longer have become so reliant upon certain players within a team, like we did so in days gone by, such is the trust that has been built up within the squad nowadays.
    Of course certain individual players missing with there ability can reduce the performance of the team but these remain rare occasions as the results are still being gained.
    There is still improvement needed to reach them targets in CL football still and that challenge still awaits.
    As for O’Riley himself he has still contributed hugely over our success this season even if a confidence issue did arise when thing’s weren’t going his way, but this is common enough within the younger player during his development.
    At no time did Ange feel a need to remove him from the match day squad and the form of Mooy stepping up made the demands upon O’Riley less important.
    Yet when he was really needed still with the absence of Mooy and hatate he was still able to step up and do the job required.
    This shows the true character of the player especially for one so young still and the same can be said for abada also.
    It comes as no surprise that other teams can be looking at such young players we have currently with the level of character as well as ability that they have and Ange has long known it also.
    Still remains a potential selection dilemma for Ange if both Mooy and Oreily are fully fit for the semi, great problem to have and think Oreily would just get the nod for starting myself

  • Johnny Green says:

    There is too much in depth analysis here, it’s shouldn’t be that complicated. O’Riley went through a bad spell….end of. Hatate also had a bad spell, but he came out of his slump a lot sooner and started asserting himself again. Age and physical demands are nothing to do with it, you are either on form and in the zone or you are not. No excuses, just get the finger out and get on with it.

  • Hugh Reilly says:

    Fans have eyes and most Celtic fans know when a player is playing badly. Remember the anger and frustration Lennon used to stimulate with his post match mantra of “the team played brilliant!” ?
    I think O’Riley is decent, no better than that. Hope I’m wrong. Mooy, McGregor, Hatate are better options and Iowata looks good. Let’s see how much game time O’Riley gets when all the midfielders are available. Ange’s selection will be stronger evidence of his assessment of O’Riley than his words

  • SSMPM says:

    JG if it wasn’t complicated you’d be doing it. You’re sounding more and more like a Lennon old school potato with a pint and cigar man. Age, physical demands, sports science, critical match and movement analysis, have loads to do with it. It’s part of the modern game that clearly is passing you by.
    What does end of mean? You can’t be bothered with others comments, or rather in your crabbitness would prefer to be disrespectful. By the way Hatate is out with a hamstring injury, wonder how that happened. Very few players are always in the zone as you put it and the ones that are tend to be physical freaks of nature, not the norm. Wonder why Kyogo was out half of last season with a hamstring injury. Surely not because of demands on the body – not because he had a full season in Japan and then continued and went straight into playing with us. Lazy stupid barking comments are for beale like people. If you can’t be bothered – don’t.

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