Many Celtic supporters had a question about who the new manager was: who?

The sceptics have been dealt with but also treated this season, as Celtic leads the Scottish Premiership title through an exciting, attacking brand of football.

The Bhoys were able to dethroning Rangers from the highest level of Scottish football due to the departure of Steven Gerrard. Celtic are deserving of the top spot they currently hold.

After failing to win his first three matches at Parkhead, Postecoglou was knocked out of the competition in the first round. Celtic rallied slowly but surely.

The green and white of Glasgow are currently top of the league and have not lost a game since October. What has changed?

Celtic lost its direction to the top of the league once again, but Postecoglou was able to turn it around.


Image: Postecoglu has signed a number of players in his first two transfer windows

The influence of the Australian on the club began at the beginning of his Parkhead reign. In his first press conference as Celtic boss, Postecoglou promised an "extensive" squad change in order to get the Bhoys back to the top of Scottish football.

After months of uncertainty about the future of the club, the motivation behind it was to get every one of his players on board with his ideas. Scott Brown quit the club due to doubts, yet nobody could have predicted the numbers that followed.

Ryan Christie, Odsonne Edouard, and Kristoffer Ajer all moved to England, while other regulars were let go. In the first few months of his time at Celtic, Postecoglou trimmed the squad by 14 players, and every player was over the age of 20.

Key Celtic players Ryan Christie (left) and Odsonne Edouard (right) left in Postecoglou's early days
Image: Key players Ryan Christie (left) and Odsonne Edouard (right) left in Postecoglou's early days

I wouldn't say there were people who didn't want to be here, but there was logic behind it.

I'm trying to talk to the group about the future and what we're building and where we're going, and if there's uncertainty about whether people will be a part of that.

The players know that we are all in this building and we are moving together. I think that helps accelerate those things.

When it came to replacing those departures, Postecoglou used both his knowledge of the lesser-known leagues and his own scouting expertise to bring in a dozen new players last summer. All but two of the new recruits were over the age of 30, with Postecoglou stressing that the new recruits had to be right ages.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 17: Celtic's Joe Hart at full time during a UEFA Conference League Last 32 first leg match between Celtic and Bodo/Glimt at Celtic Park, on February 17, 2022, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Image: Joe Hart joined Celtic at the start of this season

The dozen players have been on the field this season. Attackers Kyogo, Giorgios Giakoumakis, Liel Abada and Jota all scored double-digit goals by March.

The excellent recruitment continued into January, with Postecoglou showing his market skills once again. Three new J-League stars joined top scorer Kyogo in the winter, while Matt O'Riley was a smart buy from the Dons.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - JANUARY 11: (L-R) Yosuke Ideguchi, Daizen Maeda and Reo Hatate are pictured at a Celtic photocall at Celtic Park on January 11, 2022, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Image: Yosuke Ideguchi, Daizen Maeda and Reo Hatate all joined Celtic in January from the J-League

The players I have brought in have hit the ground running, and people ask why so quickly.

Getting the right players was going to be the first critical part of what I am trying to create and how I will be judged in history. It was going to be difficult if I signed players that weren't right for me.

Jota and Abada have impressed in their first season at Celtic
Image: Jota and Abada have impressed in their first season at Celtic

I wanted the players to fit the ideology of the team I wanted them to be. They needed to hit the right demographic in terms of ages. That was important. It has always been a big part of what I do. Square pegs are not allowed in round holes. It is not just about getting talented footballers, it is also about getting people who fit into my football.

I knew Kyogo from Japan. I watched him as my team played against him. I knew he had what it took to succeed here. He fit into my team because of his talent.

More McGregor responsibility

Callum McGregor has been struggling with a hamstring injury
Image: Callum McGregor has impressed as Celtic captain

Celtic lost a cult hero in captain Brown, but they also lost their most regular defensive player for over a decade. How do you replace the irreplaceable?

Instead of looking for an external option in the transfer market, Postecoglou went for the internal solution, which was the replacement of Brown as both Celtic's captain and a stalwart in the middle of the park.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 28: Celtic's Callum McGregor under pressure from Aberdeen's Scott Brown (right) during a Cinch premiership match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park, on November 28, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Image: McGregor replaced Scott Brown as captain of Celtic

The Australian coach has transformed McGregor into a six. The Scot has taken on a quarterback-style role in the squad, and is responsible for starting attacks from deep and breaking up opposition play.

The all-round game of the player has improved this season, with him making fewer forward passes per 90 than he has in the past, though his tackling and chance creation numbers are higher from that deeper and more sensible position.

Callum McGregor's change in role this season

The more disciplined role of the 28-year-old means that he can play higher up the pitch, but he also has the responsibility of defending.

When asked about his new position, he said it had been good.

I am getting a lot of the ball and playing a little bit deeper. I am starting a lot of the attacks. It is something that I have enjoyed as well.

The Australian coach has been very positive about the performances of the Scottish player this season, as well as his ability to handle the pressure of being Celtic captain.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - JULY 24: Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou with Callum McGregor at full time during a friendly match between Celtic and West Ham United at Celtic Park on July 24, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Image: Postecoglou (right) has hailed McGregor's leadership skills

The Australian said this month that Callum's football has been outstanding.

All the other stuff doesn't come into the same context if you aren't contributing on the field. He has played fantastic football for us. Every game he contributes.

This is his first year as a leader, as captain of this football club. People are aware of the responsibility that goes with that. It is not an easy role.

I am sure he will learn a lot about himself and how he leads from this first crack at steering a team through this part of the year. I can not speak highly enough about him. He has been outstanding.

The style of play

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Celtic 3-0 Rangers thumb
Highlights of Celtic's 3-0 win over Rangers which moved Postecoglou's side top of the table

The recent victory over Rangers at Parkhead was the moment that confirmed Postecoglou's threat to shift the Old Firm rivalry from blue to green and white.

Superb inter-play in the middle and final thirds was what Celtic did to their arch-rivals. During a frantic opening half, the Bhoys moved the ball extremely quickly down the right-hand side through rotation running between full-back Josip Juranovic,Midfielder O'Riley and forward Abada - with that combination crucial for Celtic's second goal scored by ReRiley

Celtic's average positions this season under Postecoglou
Image: Celtic's average positions this season under Postecoglou

The movement began in the first week of Postecoglou's time at the club. In a July pre-season training session broadcasted by Celtic's official media team, one area of Postecoglou's philosophy was made clear.

Ball speed is important to us. The Australian told his players that ball speed was the number one priority.

I don't want to see the ball move slowly. What does that mean? We pass it with purpose.

Celtic moved the ball quicker under Lennon than under Postecoglou. They lead the division for direct attacks that result in a shot where over 50 per cent of movement is towards the opposition's goal.

The Bhoys are one of the best teams in Europe at keeping the ball. Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain have completed more passes than Celtic this season.

There is a lot of patience in their passing. Celtic have made 581 attacks with ten or more passes that have resulted in a shot on goal, which is more than Rangers have.

The message at the start was passing with purpose. Celtic were able to maintain their league record between the start of October and the March international break by controlling matches better.

Attack, attack, attack

Giorgos Giakoumakis and Ange Postecoglou celebrate at Tynecastle
Image: Giorgos Giakoumakis has scored 12 goals this season under Postecolgou

The Scottish league title went to Rangers because they failed to keep up with the goals they scored.

The Bhoys scored 14 more goals than the Reds in the last campaign, but now the tables have turned. Celtic have 14 more goals from open play than their arch-rivals, while the green and white half of Glasgow average around 15 shots on goal from those scenarios per league game.

Celtic has a league expected goals high of 66.3. Rangers only created 48.4 xG from open play.

In the final third, Postecoglou's side aren't just relentless with the ball but without it as well. Celtic allow their opponents to have fewer passes in their defensive third than any other Scottish top-flight team, which shows the effectiveness of their press, and they also have the most turnovers leading to goals in the league.

The high-pressing ideology was drilled into the players by their Australian coach in the same pre-season training session during his first few weeks at the club.

If we lose the ball, we want to win it back. They will know they can't rest against us.

We never stop. We will stop at half-time and at the end of the game. We never stop during the game. We will take advantage if the opposition wants to stop.

Inverted full-backs

Celtic’s Josip Juranovic celebrates after scoring to make it 2-0 during a Cinch Premiership match between Celtic and Hibernian at Celtic Park,
Image: Celtic’s Josip Juranovic has impressed since joining the club

The lack of space near the touchline made Postecoglou dislike playing the traditional wide full-back role. Celtic have adopted narrow full-backs throughout the course of the season.

This is the area where the Australian has been able to improve the Celtic squad through both the existing crop and the new signings he brought in.

Image: Ralston feared his Celtic career was over before Postecoglou arrived at the club

By March, both Ralston and Juranovic had five goals and ten assists between them. It's mostly down to them taking up more central areas than before, and there's a collective team benefit to that as well.

The narrow full-backs help to overload the middle of the park, but they also grant more space to wider players such as Jota to affect matches. The likes of McGregor and Rogic can push their opponents back up the pitch, which strengthens their control of the game.

Anthony Ralston has been taking up central areas this season at right-back, while Josip Juranovic has been doing the same on both wings

The players responded brilliantly to the change in full-back system, and one of them was right-back Ralston, who signed a new contract at Parkhead.

It was a new role for me and I had to learn it.

It was strange when I found myself in the middle of the road, but I have never had to check around about myself as everything is usually in front of me.

He had clear instructions on how he wanted me to do it and that made it easier for me to learn that role. I am loving playing the style of football he has implemented into the team.

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EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 27: Celtic's Anthony Ralston celebrates his opening goal during a Cinch Premiership match between Hibernian and Celtic at Easter Road, on October 27, 2021, Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Former Celtic right-back Mark Wilson caught up with current Parkhead full-back Anthony Ralston to discuss his career and hopes for the season ahead

In October, when asked about the change in full-backs, McGregor said it had worked well. We are getting better at it all the time. You can see one coming in and one staying out, giving us a little bit of width.

The only thing it does is give you two controlling players to build up and try to outnumber the opposition. It's important that whatever fullback comes in, you balance it off on the side and try to break through the press.

We control the middle of the pitch, force them wide, and then everyone recovers and we defend from there.