The result and performance this afternoon from Celtic shows just how important intelligent squad rotation is for us, now that we have an almost fully fit squad.
I’ve said in many articles now that this will be key for us moving forward and being able to play at a consistently high level throughout the entire season.
I also mentioned that it isn’t just for fitness purposes we will rotate, but also tactically, and to confuse opposition managers.
Without question that was evident today.
Ange has been hinting all week that after his illness Giakoumakis would be fit to play today and would be able to come back into the side. Every Celtic fan expected him to start. The pundits on the phone-ins were all talking about how key Giakoumakis could be against this physical Livi defence, how important he would be to us playing these high balls into the box like we tend to do against Livi as we struggle to break down their ‘park the bus’ tactics.
Martindale would have absolutely expected Giakoumakis to play today. They would have prepared to face him since their game midweek.
So when Maeda took to the field instead, a totally different player, smaller, faster, harder to pick up, a pressing machine, their defence became an absolute nervous wreck. You could tell early on they had no idea how to handle him. Because they hadn’t worked on how to.
Maeda scored our first goal and was pivotal in our second, his movement in the box causing their defence to panic and make a mistake which lead to them scoring an own goal.
It was a tactical masterstroke from Ange Postecoglou. They couldn’t handle the movement and pressing of Maeda whatsoever. And so was starting Forrest on the right wing and bringing in Bitton to play the holding role and push McGregor further forward. It was the best our midfield has looked in a number of weeks.
Today Ange Postecoglou was playing chess, while David Martindale was playing checkers.