IT’S called ‘game management’ and the terminology can be interpreted in many ways by individual teams.
Ange Postecoglou’s obvious preference is to keep the foot on the pedal in an attempt to entertain and pile on the goals as the champions so capably demonstrated in the win over Dundee United at Tannadice six days ago.
Kyogo Furuhashi fired in a hat-trick and Filipe Jota added one as the Hoops raced to a 4-0 interval advantage. The players could have slowed down in the second 45 minutes, but instead they added another five strikes – with Liel Abada collecting a trio – in a whirlwind 9-0 triumph that left their rivals devastated.
TONGUE-LASHING…three-goal heroes Liel Abada and Kyogo Furuhashi enjoy the Tannadice treat for Celtic fans.
That’s the way Postecoglou has set out his team since he arrived on these shores from Japan in June last year.
It’s very commendable and the style is easy on the eye – unless, of course, you are in the opposing camp.
However, ‘game management’ can mean something else altogether to other managers and their players.
This afternoon’s opponents in the derby at Parkhead earned widespread praise for their 1-0 Champions League qualifying win over PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands last month.
It would be churlish to take away the fact it was a remarkable result after a 2-2 stalemate at Ibrox the previous week.
The victory on foreign soil with so much at stake underlines the capabilities of a team that knows how to grind out a result.
GOING DOWN…Callum McGregor is sent flying by John Lundstram.
If anyone thinks freescoring Celtic will waltz through today’s encounter they have not been paying attention.
Postecoglou himself admitted his team will “have to play to the best of our ability”, as CQN reported earlier this morning.
Antonio Colak claimed the only goal in Eindhoven on the hour mark after some sloppy goalkeeping by the less-than-ordinary Walter Benitez, who presented Van Bronckhorst’s side a second goal in the first game when he made a complete mess of trying to stop a Tom Lawrence free-kick.
For the remaining 30 minutes, the away side strangled the game. Keeper Jon McLaughlin could be timed at 20 seconds for goal-kicks, likewise free-kicks and throw-ins. It’s a blatant time-wasting tactic that runs down the clock and exasperates the opponents.
A strong referee will take action there and then or simply add on extra minutes at the end of stoppage-time indicated by the fourth official. This rarely happens.
PSV had 59 per cent of possession and completed 565 passes to their rivals’ 401.
At the end of the day, though, the only statistic that mattered was the final score and it showed a 1-0 victory for the visitors.
The Dutch team fluffed the chances that came their way and were a frustrated, despondent lot long before the final whistle.
DEFENSIVE WALL…the Ibrox players line up to thwart Filipe Jota at a free-kick with Kyogo Furuhashi poised to pounce on any rebounds.
There is little doubt Van Bronckhorst knows how to exercise this so-called tactic. Very cleverly, he sends players deep into the opponents’ half when his rivals have a throw-in.
Most teams protecting a slender one-goal advantage will call everyone into their own territory. The shy is taken with the player under no pressure and the ball can then be hoofed or worked forwards into the opponents’ half.
The Ibrox players, though, crowd forward to cut out the options for the rival taking the shy. It’s an unusual tactic, but it clearly flustered PSV on the night. Many of their throw-ins went astray and were picked up by Van Bronckhorst’s players and they, in turn, played their own version of keep-ball.
Sideways and backwards was the ploy and it snuffed out the Dutch team.
Celtic have not had to fight back from going a goal down this season after six successive wins.
Let’s hope it remains that way when the smoke of battle clears in the east end of Glasgow this afternoon.
* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Celtic v Rangers this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.