Substitutions were not wrong


I see Ange getting a bit of grief for making the wrong substitutions in Leverkusen last night.  His first decision, on 72 minutes, was to swap James Forrest and Jota for Liel Abada and Mikey Johnston.  Four minutes later, he hooked Nir Bitton and Kyogo for James McCarthy and Albian Ajeti.  There were mitigating factors.

That 72 minutes was James’ longest outing in 14 weeks.  His race was run and keeping the player on would only have led to different negative events.

Until this point in the game there were several potential man of the match candidates, all of them in Celtic colours, but mine was unequivocally Nir Bitton.  He had a knack of making the important interception around the edge of the box.  Composed in possession, he carried the ball out of the Celtic defensive third and brought others into play.  Of course, he also made the lung-bursting run to support the break that resulted in Jota’s goal.

Losing Nir was in itself the major change to affect Celtic’s play, but he was injured, as with James, there was no decision to be made.

Callum McGregor was moved back to the 6 position when James McCarthy replaced Bitton.  It didn’t work, but even with this knowledge, is anyone offering an alternative suggestion?  In the circumstances, it was the right decision.

Liel Abada is not known for his defensive duties.  He is a player with huge potential who I suspect is more of a striker than winger and who has already delivered for us in his short time at the club.  Granted, he is not an ideal sub to take on when you need to defend a lead away from home in Europe, but the alternative would be to break and remould the team shape – something that feels OK for the final few minutes when you can hoof the ball forward, but not for longer.

Like you, I think Kyogo can do anything and everything, I see no limits to his energy or abilities.  No player has reminded me of the Great Swede as much in the last 17 years, he too seemed to be physically without limits.  This faith is possibly overstated.

While I am burdening our current talent with unhelpful comparisons, Jota’s impact on Celtic is comparable to that of Scott Sinclair, when he arrived in 2016.   Two transformational players who lifted Celtic to a level higher.

Ange is not a man who lives in the moment.  He knows the stamina levels of Kyogo and Jota.  He also knows what he wants from the players on Sunday.  Yesterday I wrote that our priority was the forthcoming Aberdeen game.  If you are not ruthless to the plan, do not bother planning at all.  Be in no doubt, Jota and Kyogo were substituted to give them every chance of performing fully on Sunday.  I like a manager who is strong enough to make difficult decisions like this, as do you, really.

The material change on the game was the injury to Nit Bitton, without which, there is a chance we would have won the game.  Everything else is just noise, a distraction from what actually happened.  Nir’s injury was not the only reason we lost last night, but the substitutions, if not right, were not entirely wrong.

Our thoughts to Bertie Auld’s family and friends as they gather to say goodbye to his mortal remains today.  The rest of us have many memories of Bertie, those are immortal.  What a gift he was.

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  1. Lack of a plan b to see out the game and get at least a point as we approached the last ten was the issue.



    It’s a glaring problem and one we shouldn’t ignore.

  2. I feel that we are improving but still some way short of what’s required.



    Hopefully, the next transfer window will see us recruit better players.



    However, I think some (Barkas, Ajeti, Bolingoli and a few others) will have to be sold on to allow us to do that.

  3. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    So near and yet so far.


    If Hart doesn’t make that save from Adli, VAR disallows the goal, we get the ball back and maybe hold out. But we still need to defend these situations better.


    We’re not a million miles away from being a really good team.


    European football is an unforgiving arena. You get punished for your mistakes. Just need to learn from them and we will do better. Let’s start to re-establish ourselves in this environment.


    We have the right man in charge. If we had a board one tenth as competent as our manager we would give ourselves a decent chance of competing in these competitions.

  4. The glaring issue is the lack of squad depth. Back the manager in January – get the players he wants – and we’re going places.

  5. Agreed 100% with the article Paul .



    He can only play with the cards he’s been dealt with.



    We’re still making progress, and another transfer window only weeks away.

  6. 67 European Cup Winners on

    Thought we were good for 70 mins. I was delighted to see the substitutions


    Focus. Sunday is the biggest game of the year


    Focus win the league



  7. Before Bitton went off BL, were creating as many chances as they did when was substituted.



    We don’t have a strong enough squad and a manger who is delusional.

  8. Well the world turned upside down on Superbru this week. After the Hibs midweek game, our clear winner with 6 points was Marspapa who has jumped up to 11th overall after a few better weeks recently. Just behind were ACGR, Craig 76, Chalmersbhoy, Gene, Bateen Bhoy and Hutchybhoy.



    23 predictors scored exactly 0 but the Superbru logarithm seemed to pick out Angel Gabriel, Por Cierto and Park Road 67 out of this bunch to award a joint wooden spoon.



    In the overall competition Call me Gerry leads by 3.5 points from Hopeful Hoops and Bateen Bhoy as we head towards the first prize winning month of December.



    This week’s predictions are due in by 3pm on Saturday.

  9. I think we all agree that we’ve a good starting team and one that has come on leaps in a relatively short time. That is a credit to Ange.



    We all agree the squad isn’t strong enough. But here is where I would criticise Ange. He has to adopt to cater for his weak bench. He has to have a plan to get the most out of that bench.



    Like for like subs when the quality isn’t there is plain stupid.

  10. Not bitton outstanding all season.liel abada.not convinced he’s even a footballer to be fair.dont rate him at all.his touch.his passing.cant go by a defender.will a go on ……….

  11. Jocks Immortal Lions on

    Agree with P67 reference Bitton. Who’d have thought it a defensive midfielder who’s best position is defensive midfield.! The substitutions weren’t wrong just inadequate, not sure Ajeti or Johnson is good enough for Angeball. Disappointed but not despondent, still seeing progress being made under Ange.

  12. A fiver for your thoughts on

    I think Paul’s leader is spot on



    Yes Ange is strong enough to make hard decisions on substitutions



    He’s also strong and smart enough to put players on the park and see if they have what it takes or not which informs him of what is really required within the squad to move forward

  13. onenightinlisbon on

    ST TAMS on 26TH NOVEMBER 2021 12:40 PM



    Our manager is delusional?



    Can you elaborate?

  14. The subs weren’t ‘wrong’.


    What was ‘wrong’ was the ability to clear a simple delivery into the box, for example the lead up to that 1st goal.


    Hell, there were some great clearing headers at the Leverkusen Christmas market a some of our bampots booted a purchased ball around the place.

  15. A fiver for your thoughts on

    I’m pretty confident Ange knows what players are required who will stay who can go now



    It’s all about whether he will be backed sufficiently by the board now



    I hope so but not sure

  16. I see sevco have brought in an entire backroom team whereas Celtic eventually changed only the manager. (appears we were going down the entire backroom team route when talking with Howe. Can only imagine something changed)


    I wonder which approach will turn out to be better?


    Clearly, I’m not suggesting Celtic mirror sevcos actions. Just discussing the managerial changes.

  17. Pingback: Substitutions Were Not Wrong - Celtic News

  18. Got to agree, the substitutions weren’t wrong.



    Ange has a strategic way of working and is persevering with it. We saw it go wrong at Livingston and it wasn’t good enough at the Bay Arena.



    For me the reason was the same, players not good enough or not performing well enough.



    When will we be a match for Bayer Leverkusen in Germany? I don’t know but the signs are we have the potential.



    Livingston is a different matter – we need to get that right and pronto. Current players improving as they are and better players in January is essential.



    There is no Plan B – Plan A works or we get a new manager – simples.



    Lovely sentiments on Bertie Auld, truly an immortal.



    Hail Hail

  19. Uncle Jimmy


    Is Sevco’s change of the entire backroom team not have more to do with the fact that most of them moved with Slippy G to Villa? The same happened with us and Brendan Rodgers

  20. The vibes coming from the football writing hacks, and former player pundits, is that the Celtic support is far too accepting of Ange. We are turning a blind eye to the persistent defensive frailties and would previous managers be given such leeway ? Their annoyance is tangible.


    Well, I couldn’t give a Jack Ross what they think. After the season from hell, we may not have reached heaven but we are certainly chapping on the door of purgatory.

  21. PeterLatchfordsBelly on

    The substitutions weren’t wrong, but our crap squad management and player recruitment under Lawwell and Lennon came back to haunt us when the subs were made. Our options were poor indeed.



    Of the 3 that came on only Abada is worth a fig. The others have and will never deliver the square root of hee haw to Celtic.



    The league is everything this season. If the huns win it, their shit or bust strategy will have paid off and our fiscal conservatism will have failed. (*if your KPI is football achievement and not return on capital/ self-enrichment – flying the share price into side of a mountain not suggestive of a winning strategy*).



    For almost 2 decades we have failed to win a knockout tie in Europe. We grave been outperformed in Europe £ years running by a new club. That same club has now overtaken us in the euro rankings. For the 2nd season running we have conceded the most goals of any club in the EL group stage. All following the prolonged stewardship of a megalomaniac bean counter with other (self-serving) priorities. A crap record by any measure.



    No blame is attached to Ange. He’s doing brilliantly with the tools at his disposal. If he’s backed by this duffer Board in January we’ll win the league. How much do they want it? We’ll see, but who can have any faith in those awful fat cat capitalists? Tall the evidence suggests their priority is keeping the huns huns in business and pocketing nice wee stipends for themselves.

  22. 2-1 up with less than 10 mins to go in a game we needed at least a point and we balls’ed it up ,agree get juranovic into his international position with either boli boli or scales at left back , ralston is a squad player at best.


    anyone who switched on to watch the game around the 80 min would have been calling for ajeti to be subbed as he looked knackered thinking that he had been on from the start other than only 5 mins a complete waste of space.




    By continuing to play the exact same way in every game and not adjusting to suit. Especially during a game.



    This will not work with this group of players.


    He would need quality of the Man City squad for it to be.



    I do like and hope he is successful.


    But he needs to adapt.

  24. AN DÚN on 26TH NOVEMBER 2021 12:32 PM


    Lack of a plan b to see out the game and get at least a point as we approached the last ten was the issue.







    It’s a glaring problem and one we shouldn’t ignore.



    And what would this magical plan B entail.Please let us all know.Who could we have brought on last night that would have helped.


    We had Jullien,Starfelt,Taylor,Rogic,Gio,all starters or subs unavailable.Bitton,best player last night taken off.Forrest was only ever going to get 60-70 mins.


    I would really like to know.

  25. onenightinlisbon on

    ST TAMS on 26TH NOVEMBER 2021 1:31 PM



    Thanks for the reply.



    He has no intentions of “adapting” and will be proved correct if/when he gets better players.



    The board have to back him or we will be handing the league to the imposters from Govan.

  26. Not Ajetis greatest fan,but he was not the worst Sub last night.He made a great run putting Johnston in,as usual,he duffed it up.Put in a few good tackles,put himself about a bit.


    Abada,is a problem.I think,by the way he plays,he is more suited as a striker.He can get in,and tuck them away.We have seen it.Would have pace through the middle.Waste of space out wide.Maybe in the future.

  27. bigrailroadblues on

    Good afternoon all from glorious sunny Glasgow Town. May you all have a wonderful Friday. And may I back a winner at Dundalk.

  28. onenightinlisbon on

    ST TAMS on 26TH NOVEMBER 2021 1:46 PM





    Do you think that will happen.



    I really hope so.



    What is the alternative for the board?

  29. Back to Basics - Glass Half Full on

    Enjoyable leader and mix of comments.



    Don’t know Ange. Never met him.



    So, like everyone else, can only go with what I see.



    I have no real view or evidence of his tactical acumen.



    But he projects (IMHO) as a strong leader.



    Again, IMHO, as strong a leader as we’ve had in the hot seat since MON.



    Tough bugger too. Tough enough to continue the path irrespective of the chat.



    Remember his first press conference?



    “I’m a builder. I don’t do quick fixes”



    Speculation? I think Ange knew fine well the risks of his substitutions (and knew them well before the game even started).



    The choice – stretch my stars in a sub-optimal squad to reach the EL knockout stage.






    Continue along the path, focus on the league, and hit the Conference League (it’s all just football against European teams and the difference in money isn’t huge)



    I suspect this wasn’t a remotely difficult decision for our manager.




    PS – I found Jimdom’s 1:19pm post re media very interesting. I’m going to watch out for any signs in the near future.



    If they emerge – a clear indication they are worried about the relative harmony at CP.

  30. Maybe the dropped points at home to livi made enough of an impression that he placed fresh legs on Sunday ahead of the win last night



    We all said at the time avoiding a repeat was a necessity. Maybe he’s learned the importance of winning in the league at al