Don’t Blame Ange for Failed Acid Test

In discussion with disappointed/angry (delete as appropriate) fellow Celtic fans after the Ibrox capitulation, it appears Ange Postecoglou is arrogant, naive or, quite simply, a genius, leading Michael Beale down a very dark alley.

Forced into multiple changes, mostly defensively, the runaway league leading boss took the opportunity to blood some of his fringe players, athletes who have been knocking on his door day-in-day-out to ‘get a game’.

This experiment backfired spectacularly when a Todd Cantwell/Nicolas Raskin inspired theRangers side took full advantage, and played us off the park at times, scoring thrice.  It was as disappointing as it was insipid in terms of a battle. In truth, we were gubbed!

Tony Ralston was a no-choice given in the absence of our dependable right-back, Alistair Johnston. This in itself is a worry. Tony is a player of fortitude, but lacking skill and vision. Ralston was proven culpable against a lustre attack force, beaten when it mattered, passing abysmally.

Alexandro Bernabei in place of Greg Taylor was always going to cause palpitations due to his susceptibility in defensive mode; dangerous going forward but a concern under pressure in his natural position, he is a defender-of sorts, but not my sort. He was ripped at the back, and the speedy, determined theRangers wingers hung him out to dry time and again.

Yuki Kobayashi – A player I have lauded and with good reason. Yuki has excelled in his limited time at Celtic, being used as a substitute for Carter-Vickers in time of need. I’ve found him a secure acquisition with a calm and collected demeanour, rarely putting a foot wrong. Unfortunately, his time is yet to come in the real big time.

The Japanese centre was deemed not good enough when he was liable for two of the three preventable goals we conceded, staring into space as a smirking Cantwell latched onto Hart’s poor parry, before allowing Souttar an unchallenged free header for the second. Very poor. He may well come good, but on this performance, the jury’s out.

Joe Hart can be a wonderful goalkeeper, but, like David de Gea at Manchester United, I shake my head at times and wonder, can we do better? I think we can. I’m not comparing them, simply exposing their frailties.

Barring Reo Hatate who manfully tried to shore up an overrun midfield despite mis-placed passes now and then, the whole team seemed to capitulate under an expected onslaught from an opponent desperate to literally save face from a trophyless season. We knew it was coming, but soiled the bed when it did.

Our illustrious skipper, Calmac is allowed one day a year off. Sadly for us, it was at Ibrox, and trying to bridge the gap of lesser skilled combatants proved a bridge too far. It was a poor performance from the metronome, and he will surely feel the pain deeper than most.

Our attack force was frantically out of sorts, and should they have been in anything other than dismal form, Celtic would have been well in contention. As the vastly underrated Cantwell drove home unchallenged, Oh should have restored parity, but chipped against the post with the goal gaping sending the global TV Celtic support into apoplexy. It was a bad miss, and the Korean never recovered from that despite receiving exceptionally poor service.

Jota flattered to deceive as he has done any times recently. We need more from our Portuguese superstar!

Abada’s swipe at the ball in the middle of the box should, and normally would have nestled in the back of the net, but on this day, it was never gonna happen. The Israeli was practically non-existent otherwise.

Neither was the penalty shout when Goldson’s tumble resulted in him handling the ball on the deck. But, like maybe the millionth time this season for the big Englishman, nothing to see here in this backwater of Scottish football! Should the laws of the game be applied fairly, 2-1 would have probably given Celtic ‘oxygen’ for the second half, a word which was used in after match interviews, perhaps prematurely?

Celtic were the dominant force in the second half but, as Ange said, we were too panicky and less controlled. That was the difference. theRangers knew the game was won and Celtic were ineffective. They deserved their victory and we deserved to lose. The third goal was an embarrassment as Cantwell won a tussle with two Celtic battlers and Sakala drew great pleasure in rounding Joe Hart and netting easily. This moment pretty much summed up the game.

So, as Ange was lambasted and brought to book in some negative quarters, I ask the question, was it his fault we lost 3-0? Well, yes and no, mainly, no. He was left without the services of Johnston, Carter-Vickers and a recovering Kyogo, all massive players.

He chose to rest Taylor and Maeda as they had endured a barnstormer of a season. That’s it. He decided that he would test his reserve defensive combatants against his strongest rivals rather than against St. Mirren at Celtic Park where they would likely spend 90% of their time in the opposition box learning nothing, with nothing to lose or gain.

Matt O’Riley is challenged by Todd Cantwell of theRangers during the Cinch Premiership match between Rangers and Celtic at Ibrox May 13, 2023 (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

So much rhetoric about ‘waterboy’ Cantwell, ‘Carol’ Baskin etc. These boys took us apart and embarrassed us in this game, so forget about the colours they sport and acknowledge their talent, and desire, something we lacked. Souttar, who blew the last game, won 100% of his ariel balls and scored against us as he’s done before at Hearts. Their wingers were more potent than ours and caused us more trouble.

Yes, they were better than us but without our most important players, that was no surprise. Ange took a risk with his selection, and it was a good one since he found out who he could rely on in the major arenas when called upon. I applaud him for that despite the result which ultimately cost us nothing but blushes! He will take his findings to the board who will hopefully fund him in a quest for more talented players in the new season.

In truth, Celtic have not hit the heights since demolishing Kilmarnock in a first half rout at Rugby Park. Few are saying it, but we have struggled since, and are not feared as we once were despite our obvious success.

Imagine this side taking on Real Madrid, Barcelona or Manchester City in the Champions League with Ralston, Kobi, Bernabei, etc? No, I cannot either. We need first class back-up for our rampant first teamers, and Ange knows it. Ibrox proved this point, We hate losing there, but we did.

There may or not be some shock departures from Parkhead’s gates come the summer of ’23, but if there are then this result may be a blessing in disguise as we forge a path to a brighter future a bid to extinguish the Ibrox flame with incoming players of true Celtic quality. In the meantime, there’s a Cup to be won and another Trophy to be flaunted at Celtic Park in a couple of weeks.

Whilst theRangers vampirical hordes celebrate a rare win over the Champions by wallowing, up to their knees in lustful blood, let’s enjoy OUR moment, and remember who we are. We are Celtic, forged from the pain of famine and exclusion in a country which, sadly, despises every fibre of our being.

Being poor and ostracised is not a cause for celebration-being Treble Champions once again most certainly is, and we hope and pray that this will come to pass on 3rd June when the old and famous Scottish Cup is gloriously lifted above the head of Callum Gregor at Hampden Park. Ange’s ‘arrogance’ will be on public display that day and I, for one, will wallow in that! HH

Eddie Murray

About Author

Eddie Murray – I Grew up with the Lions, coming from a Celtic-daft family. Played against Jinky once! Paradise was my second home and Dalglish was my hero. A long term Brisbane Bhoy for many years and have been blogging here for many years. Written a book on Ange/ Brisbane Roar/ Celtic which awaits publication. Writing on other genres as I speak. Top moments? Interviewing Cesar, Wispy, Cairney, The Maestro, Alan Thompson.


  1. Great post Eddie. Maybe Ange showing the board that without investment this squad is limited. No talk of trebles from me. Flashes of individual brilliance from Kyogo, Jota have got us through the last few games but the energy of the first three quarters of the season has gone. ICT like Clubber Lang should not be under estimated. They will do all they can on the day of their lives to batter us. We’ve switched off and some player’s heads are on a Carribbean beach. On another point what other country would put up with their song book and ‘fan’ missiles? Not one. In Ange we trust and he will be raging. Lennoxtown will be scorched on Monday. Hail hail!

  2. We need to sort out the defence. Even with everyone fit, we have seen Sevco get in behind the line too many times this season. If they were a better attacking side we would ve got demolished in the new year game.

    If we want to do anything in Champions league we need more mobile centre halves with the ability to dominate in the air.

    All that said, defences have always been Ange’s weak point at every club he has managed, so I can’t see him unearthing a Mjalby or Van dyjk in the coming months. Assuming he resists the lure of the EPL.

  3. Tommy McQuillan on

    Great post Eddie we lacked something on Saturday and we got brought back down to Earth with a crash landing. I thought we had plenty of possession bought couldn’t string a series of passes together all day. We might not be as far ahead of Ibrox as we thought we were if the reserves are anything to go by. I think Bernabei has been a bombscare in defence and already I think he’s not going to make it at Celtic and if Ange brings a left back in the writing’s on the wall for him. He wasn’t alone though Celtic were that bad that it reminded me of a boxing match where one of the protagonists was told that it wasn’t their night, now I’m not saying the fix was on I’m merely saying that we were that bad that it looked decidedly dodgy. As you so rightly point out Ange will learn a lot from this game, mainly that there’s work to be done so that if there’s any injuries in the squad he needs players that won’t weaken the side as significantly as it did last Saturday. I’ve got every faith in the manager to get it right as he’s hardly put a foot wrong since he walked through the door but Ibrox proved that our system can be got at with a high press from our opponents and if they were a better side we could’ve been severely embarrassed in that game instead of just embarrassed. The problem Ange has is that he needs a quality of player who can recognise in the game that the system isn’t working and adapt it on the pitch and, for want of a better term, go to plan B or C. Having said all of that sometimes you lose a battle but still win the war and four out of six trophies and the potential for five out of six on June 3rd it’s hardly a time to panic over a single defeat, there’s a need to improve our quality which we’ll certainly do in the summer hopefully at the very least to make the players in reserve better and a few first team improvements also. God bless mate HH