CELTIC legend Davie Hay has already stated he believes Ange Postecoglou is delivering on two crucial managerial fronts – results and transfers, as CQN reported yesterday.
The Greek-Australian gaffer has been busy in all four transfer windows since arriving as Neil Lennon’s long-term successor in June 2021.
The Hoops squad has gone through an extraordinary makeover as Postecoglou has searched high and wide for players to strenghten his pool for the rigours and challenges that lie ahead at home and abroad.
In another CQN EXCLUSIVE, Hay delivers his forthright views to Celtic book author Alex Gordon, who co-wrote the club ambassador’s best-selling autobiography, ‘The Quiet Assassin‘, which was published in 2009.
THE EQUALISER…Filipe Jota is flat out at the post with Alex Gogic for company as his effort beats St Mirren keeper Trevor Carson and rolls towards the net.
The former Parkhead player and manager said: “It’s clear to see Ange likes to utilise as much width in the team as he can.
“When he first arrived, there was all the talk of inverted full-backs and fans may have been forgiven for believing their new team boss was going to forget the wings and concentrate on winning the congested areas in the middle of the park.
“However, it should have been noted that one of his first buys, Liel Abada, was a wide player and he was followed into the club a few weeks later by Filipe Jota, another performer who plays on the touchline.
“Daizen Maeda arrived in January and Sead Haksabovic joined in the summer. James Forrest was also given a new contract the day after Ange had secured the title in the 1-1 draw with Dundee United at Tanadice in May.
“So, it’s faily obvious he is a man who encourages width within his formation and Celtic traditionalist like myself will be happy with that line of thinking.
“I was fortunate enough to come into a Celtic team in the late sixties that boasted the one-and-only Jimmy Johnstone on the right wing.
DOUBLE TROUBLE…it’s Jimmy Johnstone on the ball as Davie Hay provides support in an Old Firm encounter with Willie Mathieson and Andy Penman providing the opposition.
“Big John ‘Yogi’ Hughes was on the left and every now and again Big Jock would shake things up and play Stevie Chalmers and Bobby Lennox, two speed merchants, on the wings.”
Hay added: “I played most of my early games for Celtic in the full-back positions, mainly on the right behind Wee Jinky. That was an experience, I can tell you.
“Big Jock ordered his full-backs to bomb forward at every occasion to support their front players. I was happy to do so because I had energy to burn back then.
“I would see an opening on the flank and take off on the overlap and take up a good position. Wee Jinky would see me in acres of space – and then ignore me!
“The Wee Man, who became a great personal friend, would use me as a decoy as he took the ball inside to create havoc.
JOTA ON THE WING…the Portuguese wizard is on the ball at Hampden as Celtic prepare to lift the League Cup for the second successive season.
“I didn’t mind. It was a team game and if it helped us get a favourable result by me taking away an opponent to free space for Wee Jinky, then I was more than happy to play my part.
“It’s interesting to see some Celtic followers of a certain vintage comparing Wee Jinky with Jota. Forget it, there is no comparison.
“They are two extremely different players. Certainly, my wee mate was an entertainer, flamboyant and a maverick. He was easy on the eye and could terrorise defenders.
“Jota ticks those boxes, too. Their particular skills may be different, but there is one thing they share – the ability to keep on going when things aren’t particularly going their way.
“In Paisley yesterday, Jota struggled in the first-half with little coming off for him. It was a similar situation with Maeda on the other flank.
“The manager took off the Japanese player at the interval to put on Abada, but it could so easily have been Jota who made way.
“He remained on the pitch until the 71st minute when he made way for Haksabanovic, by which time Celtic were 3-1 ahead.
“It was Jota who fought at the near post to get a vital touch to prod the ball past Trevor Carson for the vital leveller. It wasn’t a classic goal from the Portuguese forward – and he has provided us with a few crackers since his arrival – but his celebration showed us all how much it meant to him.
“He had persevered on a day when the ball just refused to run for him. Wee Jinky had days like that. Every player you care to mention has had to try to fathom why that sphere just won’t do as its told.
“I liked Jota’s determination not to chuck it. He kept on going and, for me, that is the hallmark of an individual any team would embrace within its ranks.
“Wee Jinky would have have approved of Jota.”
* TOMORROW: Don’t miss another big EXCLUSIVE from Davie Hay – only in your champion CQN.