“A little ingenuity will change the scenario on the pitch,” Reo Hatate

It’s fascinating reading what our Asian players have to say about Celtic while talking to the media in their homeland. We have already covered South Korean internationalist, Hyeongyu Oh’s thoughts on playing for Celtic in the first few months since he was signed in the January transfer window.

And now there’s more from Reo Hatate, who is a real student of the game and his occasional diary posts always provide a great insight into one of the most talented footballers currently playing in Scottish football. Hatate will be competing with Kyogo for Player of the Year and maybe the striker because of his goals – 26 so far this season – will edge it but many will also put up a strong case for Reo Hatate who is having an exceptional season in The Celtic midfield.

After making a major impact at Celtic in the second half of last season after arriving in the January transfer window, Hatate realised that he’d have to have a re-think about his game given the additional attention that he was being given from opponents who were increasingly well aware of the danger he posed. And with this closer marking Hatate devised some tactical changes to his game which have paid spectacular dividends and increased his goal threat, as his manager Ange Postecoglou had asked him to do.

Reo Hatate was named as the cinch Premiership Player of the Month for February

Hatate explained in his column for Japanese media outlet Sportiva that tactical change that has made all the difference to his game this season.

“I have been thinking about and devising my own ways to improve the quality of my performance in front of the goal, an issue that Ange Postecoglou told me I needed to develop.

“I have been playing at the bottom of midfield with captain Callum McGregor this season, and I felt that the team could perform better without me being more involved in the build-up and I decided to take a higher position and get involved in front of goal more often.

“In doing so, I also focused on my positioning. In the past, I often received the ball from the centre backs in a straight line toward the opposition goal, but this made it difficult to avoid pressure from the opponents,” Reo Hatate explained.

“So what I have done is something I would describe as shifting sideways – what I mean is that I now try and receive passes from the central defenders at an angle. For example, if you receive a pass with your back to the opposition goal, you have to turn 180 degrees to face forward. But if you receive a pass sideways to their goal, you can turn only 90 degrees to face forward.

“If you receive the ball in a straight line, I am immediately under a lot of pressure, but if I receive the ball a little to the side, you have more speed and agility and you can strip them for pace in an instant. I also realised that at Celtic, the full backs were coming inside instead of going down the line, so if I opened up, there was space for me to receive the pass.

“Above all, because I am now in my second season at Celtic I was acutely aware that my opponents were marking me harder and harder every game. That is why a split-second move is so important. This is why I came up with the idea of receiving the ball from a different angle.

“I was able to record an assist in the League Cup Final as a result of this. As a result of this change, I have added more assists and goals to my game and the team are playing even better.

“A little ingenuity will change the scenario on the pitch,” Reo Hatate noted. What a player this Bhoy is, an exceptional talent.


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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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