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.

Click Here for Comments >

About Author


  1. I don’t know if Dominic Mckay was sacked for giving James Mccarthy a four year deal. Does anyone ?



    But I think it’s patiently obvious it wasn’t a football person that negotiated the deal.







    Who signed all the duds from the last 10 years or so?



    How did he get on?



    No answer required!




  3. I’m usually on taxi duty on a Friday night for my wee lassie being out on the town.



    Had a chat with her mates and they’ve agreed to postpone because of the approaching storm (in Edinburgh)


    and will be home soon.


    Kids can be sooo sensible………………sometimes!


    Now, a glass of red, or mibbe a wee dram.



  4. How far back do we have to go about seemingly bad decisions at Celtic? If decisions at all. Can we have a base line.

  5. Saint Stivs



    Bertie Auld was the kind of man you wished would live for ever, but we all know thats not possible, it was great to have him while he was alive and now thats he’s gone the world for me anyway has lost some of its colour,



    RIP Bertie

  6. GREENPINTA @ 5:15




    I also don’t know who signed McCarthy – but if he had been turning in 5 star performances, 99% on here would convince us it was Ange & Dom who defied the board to make it happen.

  7. GREENPINATA on 26TH NOVEMBER 2021 5:15 PM



    I don’t know if Dominic Mckay was sacked for giving James Mccarthy a four year deal. Does anyone ?



    But I think it’s patiently obvious it wasn’t a football person that negotiated the deal.



    You don’t know my friend.leave it at that


    All else is speculation on Dom & McCarthy




  8. Like everyone else on here I have no idea who was responsible for signing McCarthy, but like most on here I was happy when we signed him going by his past record, the fitness thing was probably outweighed by the fact he was for free, but what I do know, or what I think I do know that Ange would never have signed him as he doesn’t have the stamina for his system, but like every other coach, another player is always welcome.


    Maybes the reason the likes of Scales, Shaw et all are not in the picture is that they were bought as projects and are still miles away from the first team.


    The subs last night showed how weak our squad is, I’m 100% sure Ange knew what he was doing when he sent them on.


    Pity that Bitton went off injured, we may well not have lost the game had he stayed on.


    I said it last night and watching it again, the BL keeper should have seen red, he near decapitated Koyogo, it was a horrendous challenge.

  9. Well if your substitutions help you win the game they are correct, if you go on to lose from a winning position, it could be argued that they were wrong. Bringing on Jamesie against the Saints,……correct decision.


    Worrying about playing Aberdeen in the latter stages of a key Europa League tie, that suggests you are not aware of our results against the Dons over the last twenty years. Not so much Paradise Lost Paul, but a real opportunity missed. On a false premise.

  10. Not sure I fully agree with the substitutions – I think we could have tried to get a bit more physicality onto the field – player like scales into the box, I’d have moved Juranovic into left midfield as he clearly has tackling ability and could have drove us forward. instead he went with lightweight players who are decent when we are attacking but sadly lacking when we need to defend a lead – this was the downfall.



    Johnson and abada couldn’t get us up the pitch and constantly lost possession – they could at least have drawn fouls. Johnson wasted a chance to get a shot away and also tried a fancy move when a less selfish pass was the play.



    This needs to be hammered out of his game asap!!

  11. We know that we don’t get Kante-like displays from Soro, however we now know that we get infinitely more from him than we do from McCarthy – so why McCarthy?



    Question: Is he really on a straight four-year deal, or, is it a pay as you play deal?



    I cannot believe that any club would give him, at 30 and with his recent history, a four-year contract – perhaps it was St Dom with his rugby-head still on, or, not.

  12. MCPHAIL BHOY on 26TH NOVEMBER 2021 1:18 PM



    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



    *was just going tae echo this. When slippy effed off he took the entire backroom staff with the exception of goalie coach colin stewart with him.



    The latter is the son of the Buddies goalie who was holding the ball when Celtic POTY Albert Kidd’s goal went in much tae the joy of the Tims behind him.



    He is married tae former Celtic Ladies player Julie Fleeting who although fae the home of the mother ludge comes fae a Celtic minded family.



    They had no option but tae recruit a new backroom staff including the youth team manager fae Ajax, michael beale part 2 it seems.



    Fraudgers also tried tae take our whole backroom staff but big JK grandson of a true Celtic legend, Stephen Woods whose maternal side of his family are well known Dumbarton Republicans and Damien Duff seen on you tube at Parkheid belting out “Let The People Sing” allegedly told him tae go forth and multiply.



    As we are all aware the first 2 games after the fraud bailed oot we won at swinecastle and Easter Road, big John was assistant manager by this time and Damien elevated tae head coach.



    After the latter left Gavin Strachan was brought in, if Lenny wisnae happy he didnae seem tae complain, ironically didnae make too many noises either when big Dolph left.

  13. And another thing. James McCarthy was brought to Celtic to sell the jerseys…..


    And, if we keep playing him, that is exactly what he will do…

  14. hat doffed to reporting scotland, fine job for the coverage of the funeral, having bertie singing the celtic song as the cortege left kerrydale street was quiet poingant.

  15. Funny thing is,I remember reading lots of posts on here about”When is MJ going to be fit to start.A real star that boy.”Many,many times.

  16. ERNIE LYNCH on 26TH NOVEMBER 2021 7:27 PM



    Nice to hear Patricia Ferns singing at Bertie’s funeral. She finally got him to go to Mass!






  17. prestonpans bhoys on

    Unfortunately didn’t see Reporting Scotland as was outside trying to stop my greenhouse turning into a six foot kite.



    Forth is about 1/4 from the house and that storm is causing havoc. Taking oot the dug for a pee is cancelled until I warm up😵