Giving everyone a break from my usual few forgettable paragraphs of a Tuesday morning,REBUS67 has kindly volunteered his thoughts on how we are doing in the first three months under our new manager,as well as some thoughts on the near future under the new regime
What is Ange Ball? Does it bring success? These are two important questions that will determine Celtic’s success or failure in both the immediate and medium term. Ange is our manager for this season, at least. He needs certain types of players to fit his system. With Kyogo, we have already committed to staffing his needs. In January, I fully expect the club will bring in others to play the Ange system. Consequently, we are making 3-5 year commitments to Ange’s style of player, whether he remains at the club or not.
Let’s examine the first question. What is Ange Ball? The question is straight forward but the answer is certainly not. The reason for this is that the system relies on fluidity or constant change. There are two main principles of Ange Ball….the high press and inverted FBs. Currently, Ange seems to favour a 433 formation but he has used 4231 in the past. In fact, the formation is not important….the positioning of each player is what matters in Ange Ball.
At times, when the team has the ball, the two FBs will move into the middle and the two CBs will advance up the park to block the opposition into their final third. When the team loses the ball, the additional support in the middle is used to win the ball back. However, fine judgement is needed by the FBs as to when they need to retreat to their usual positions to cover the wide areas. The team has been caught out on this as it learns Ange’s system. The FBs are key to Ange Ball. Their duties are extremely demanding. They have four main duties to perform:
- as normal defensive FBs,
- To move into the middle to support the midfield,
- To attempt to win the ball back in that area, and
- Finally, to attack down the wings when the wingers drop back or move inside
Physically, this is very demanding and this is why Ange constantly mentions that one RB is not enough for the season. It is also why he has said that Scales is not ready yet. Scales would be in a Celtic team that played a LB in a conventional or even a wingback role, but, it appears he is still in training as an Ange FB.
The other main aspect of Ange Ball is the high press, where any of the six forward players in a 433 can press the opposition. Usually, these positions are filled by Turnbull, Calmac, Rogic, Abada/Jota, Kyogo, and Mikey. IMHO, surprisingly this is where the weaknesses lie currently. Of these players, only Calmac and Kyogo can be relied on to win the ball back with some regularity. The rest are creative players who need to have the ball. However, it is a big ask to have Calmac as a ball winner because he is needed elsewhere. He is the pivot between defence and attack. Ange Ball works with the defence playing the ball out from the back. This is why Starfelt has struggled. He is not comfortable doing that but he is learning.
Calmac has to be available to receive the short pass from the defenders and transfer it up the park. If he is running around trying to win the ball back, there will be no effective pivot as neither of the wide players, nor Rogic can do it. Turnbull is learning and, as his fitness improves, may be able to spell Calmac. Kyogo could do it, but should not be that far back. He is the main striker.
I think Ange is doing the best he can with both Turnbull and Rogic in the team, but, ultimately, they will be playing for the one position. January may be the tipping point.
In summary, Ange Ball relies on each player understanding his role in the team, especially the FBs and the midfielders.
Has it been successful so far? IMHO, the jury is still out. The real test will be can it outfox Sevco? Rogic played well in the first half versus Hibs but picked up an injury. Is this the old Rogic back again? Most professional football players can play well for one or two games, but the really good ones have consistent performance to their game. However, my judgement can be iffy as I would never have believed that either of Ralston or Rogic would perform in Ange Ball.
The January transfer window will be crucial for success this year. Another couple of Kyogos would do the trick…..one more striker(Maeda?), and a midfielder with an engine to take the pressure off Calmac’s multi-tasking. McCarthy is a strange signing and I wonder if Ange had anything to do with it. I do not see how he could fit into Ange Ball. Does he have the engine to take on some of Calmac’s defensive duties? At best, he will be a better version of Biton, used to close out a game.
Similarly, I wonder about the signing of Giakoumakis…….is he an Ange Ball player? It is too early to observe his work rate but he seems to have limited functionality…scoring goals and as a target man. OK, these are important but is it enough for Ange Ball? Ultimately, he may end up as an impact sub, which is the role that Rogic should perform.
The second question that I raised was is Ange Ball successful? Again the answer is not straight forward. To summarise the answer appears to be No/Yes/No. Let me explain.
The following relies on data from the Footystats website. Postecoglu’s overall win percent is 48% from 330 matches, slightly worse than tossing a coin. Compare this to say, David Moyes with a 56% win percent career wide. At Celtic, Rodgers had a 70% win ratio. Gerrard is sitting on 64% with Robbie Neilson at 45%. After 11 league games Ange has a 64% win percent and a 59% win rate across all competitions this season. Not a great performance but, judging what he inherited, not bad either.
Whether he and his system will succeed at Celtic is an open question. However, his history is not. A quick look at his managerial record at the club level reveals the following. Let’s start with Brisbane Roar in the A-League. He took over in the 2009/10 season when the club was a shambles. He massively changed the playing pool and recorded a 29% win percent. Next season, 2010/11 his new team swept through the league to win the title with a win percent of 58%. The following season, 2011/12 was an up and down one with a win percent of 57% and a second place finish.
On the basis of these two seasons, it appears that Ange Ball either works completely or not at all. Over the above two seasons the Roar went on a record 36 games winning run, but this was followed by the clubs worst losing streak. Ange left the Roar in 2012 to move to the Melbourne Victory where his win percent slumped to 48%. The following season, 2013/14 he won one game out of three and departed to the Australian National team.
We next catch up with Ange in Yokohama when he joined the Marinos in 2018. He managed 34 J-league games with a win percent of 35%……presumably a transition year. The following season is arguably his finest yet, where he won the title with a 65% win rate. However, the following season followed the same as at the Roar, he failed to repeat the title triumph, returning a win percent of 41% as the Marinos tumbled down the league. The following season, the one where he joined Celtic, his win rate was 62.5% from 16 games but his team are unlikely to win the league.
So, what does it all mean? You can draw your own conclusion. However, there is evidence around that Ange Ball does not sustain title wins. Ange’s teams seem to scale the summit but, for some reason, they do not stay there. From Ange’s POV it may not matter but from a Celtic view it does. Ange’s career suggests…build in Year 1, Triumph in Year 2, Decline in Year 3, then leave for another position. If that is his intent, then it will not be good enough for Celtic.