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Celtic tactics next season with the arrival of Brendan Rogers - Tactical Analysis tactics

Why Ange Postecoglou’s tenure leaves Brendan Rodgers with the perfect tools to have success in his second stint at Celtic – tactical analysis

Brendan Rodgers has officially been appointed as Celtic manager after parting ways with Leicester City back in April. Following a successful three years with the Scottish giants, Rodgers reunites with them, having won seven trophies and back-to-back domestic trebles.

Replacing Ange Postecoglou will be no easy task, he leaves Celtic after winning his own domestic treble and becoming a fan favourite as he ventures the opposite way to the Premier League to manage London club Tottenham Hotspur. 

Rodgers is known for his dedication to a possession-oriented style of football that allows for fluid movement on the field. However, throughout his career, he has also shown a willingness to adapt to the needs and abilities of his players.

This tactical analysis will analyse the fundamental principles and tactics Rodgers has used in previous years, and how that may be implemented in his second tenure in the Scottish Premiership. The analysis will look at the team Postecoglou has left behind and how Rodgers may use his squad to fulfil his demands.

What Ange left behind

Celtic enjoyed a fantastic past two seasons under Postecoglou. They reclaimed the league title from Rangers in 2022 and then last season secured a record eighth domestic treble for the club. Rodgers’ team looks quite different from the one he left back in 2019, with many new faces and a playing style that differs from the one he employed during his first stint at Celtic Park. 

The Scottish giants have made shrewd transfers over the years and the players have really bought into Postecoglou’s playing philosophy which has led them to domestic success. Joe Hart has been a pivotal figure and has been a key part of Celtic’s playing style. Surprisingly, following his infamous departure from Manchester City for a lack of ability to use the ball with his feet, he has been a great asset to this Celtic style in building up from the back and organising the defence with his vocal presence. Undoubtedly he will continue on as Rodgers’ first choice in goal.

In defence, experienced players like Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt will bring solidity and international experience to form the base in the centre of defence. Captain Callum McGregor will be key to Rodgers’ integration back into Celtic as he will likely continue as the heartbeat in midfield. Reo Hatate, Daizen Maeda and Kyogo Furuhashi have been fantastic signings from Japan, providing great technical ability with real grit and intensity that no doubt Rodgers will be excited to work with.

The Celtic squad has had the growth and stability of Postecoglou’s playing philosophy entrusted to them from the moment the Australian stepped through the doors. The players responded very well to the high demands of Postecoglou and this speaks to the adaptability and intelligence of the group Rodgers has inherited.

Before looking at how Rodgers may implement his own playing style, it is important to note his ability to adapt to the players at his disposal and no doubt he will take into account the playing style that has led his new team to previous success.

Postecoglou had his team building up from the back with detailed precision of short sharp passes starting with the goalkeeper. A notable change the previous manager adopted during his time up in Glasgow is inverting his fullbacks into midfield. This has especially benefitted Greg Taylor who has taken this role with great aplomb and has established himself as the first-choice left-back at the club since.

Celtic tactics next season with the arrival of Brendan Rogers - Tactical Analysis tactics

Moreover, the rotations between midfielders and players in wide areas have also been prevalent, especially during the last season in their treble-winning campaign. Rodgers will inherit a midfield that is technical and able to retain the ball, but also dynamic with the ability to get around the pitch. Lastly, Rodgers will be excited no doubt at the prospect of working with the forwards he will have at his disposal.

Kyogo Furuhashi has been incredible since his transfer from Vissel Kobe, picking up the league’s Golden Boot award last season. Celtic also have young and exciting wingers like Jota, Liel Abada and Daizen Maeda that will give Rodgers plenty of options going forward.

Attacking tactics

Looking back at Rodgers’ time at his previous club Leicester City, he has clear principles that are evident in his team’s playing style that have similarities to the way Celtic have played the past two years.

Celtic have lined up with a back four which Rodgers favours and a different combination of a three in midfield with two wingers and a striker is prevalent in both. Rodgers’ attacking principles are methodical and expansive. He likes his team to be the protagonists in the game, implementing their playing style on the opposition and dominating possession. With this, he will look to his keepers and back four to build the play from the back and circulate the ball across the back to find the free man in midfield. 

Celtic tactics next season with the arrival of Brendan Rogers - Tactical Analysis tactics

This is very similar to the way the Celtic have played under Postecoglou, therefore Hart alongside his back four will be comfortable playing this way. An interesting difference is the role the fullbacks will have during the build-up.

Rodgers in the past has favoured vertical and dynamic fullbacks who get up the length of the pitch and stretch the pitch wide on the touchline. This allows for his wingers to make inverted runs between the fullback and centre-backs as Harvey Barnes has done at Leicester, or conversely, having the wingers drop into the half spaces in midfield to overload and receive between the lines like James Maddison does on the opposite wing.

Celtic tactics next season with the arrival of Brendan Rogers - Tactical Analysis tactics

Rodgers has also shown a preference to use two players at the base of midfield to help facilitate build-up (although Leicester has rotated to a single pivot at times). He often deployed his two in midfield quite deep into their own half for two reasons. The first is the safety and security of building the ball up in dangerous areas, forming a box between the centre-backs and the two midfielders to safely transition the ball further up the pitch. Secondly, positioning his midfielders in deeper and more narrow positions invites opposition midfielders to also push up higher and more narrow, creating space out wide for the fullbacks to receive and move forward.

With the players at his disposal, it will be interesting to see whether Rodgers continues his preference for pushing his fullbacks high and wide or experiment with inverting his fullbacks into midfield like Taylor has done this season from left-back. Rodgers did experiment during Leicester’s 2022/23 preseason by inverting Timothy Castagne into midfield, so we could see Celtic form Rodgers’ preference for a double pivot by bringing in Taylor to sit alongside McGregor during Celtic’s build-up phase.

Celtic tactics next season with the arrival of Brendan Rogers - Tactical Analysis tactics

Further up the pitch, Jamie Vardy has seen some of his most successful years at the top flight when working under Rodgers as his tactical system suits the player very well. Rodgers wants his team, especially his forwards, to make penetrating runs in behind opposition defences. Kyogo seems built for exactly how Rodgers would want his forward player to play. He positions himself off the shoulder of opposition centre-backs, continuously makes runs in behind and is great at finishing off cut-backs from wide areas. Kyogo plays in a similar way to Vardy and he is likely to lead the line for Celtic again next season, looking to continue his goal-scoring form.

In the wide areas, Celtic have players that excel in 1v1 situations, but also make great runs from wide behind opposition defences at speed. Jota and Liel Abada are particularly good in 1 on 1 situations and Rodgers will look to isolate them out wide as often as possible to create chances in the final third. Daizen Maeda will play a similar role to Barnes, where the runs behind opposition defences at pace will be key to stretching play vertically and supplying flat crosses to Kyogo in the box.

Celtic tactics next season with the arrival of Brendan Rogers - Tactical Analysis tactics


The latter part of Rodgers’ time at Leicester saw his team ship many goals from counterattacks and set pieces. This is in part due to injuries and players he had at his disposal at the time. However, when his teams are in full flow, they have solidity and intensity to their defensive actions which Rodgers will try to impart to his team this season.

Rodgers likes his teams to set up high and apply pressure in the opposition team’s half as early as possible. This means his defensive line will be at the halfway line, and his midfielders and forwards will push up high against the opposition’s defensive line. This often means one of the midfielders will step up alongside the striker to press higher up, whilst one sits back and covers the space between the midfield and back line. At Leicester, Dewsbury-Hall was often asked to be the one to push up with the striker to press the back line.

Celtic tactics next season with the arrival of Brendan Rogers - Tactical Analysis tactics

With Celtic, this defensive shape will be more straightforward. McGregor will be tasked with playing as a deeper midfielder to sweep up loose passes and one of Matt O’Riley or Hatate will push up alongside Kyogo.

This is not dissimilar to the way Celtic played last season. Postecoglou also demanded his team to press ]and be aggressive up the pitch. Players like Maeda and Kyogo were integral to his playing style with their relentless pressing and were aggressive off the ball. Rodgers will look towards these players in forward positions to kickstart the press. Furthermore, midfielders like Reo Hatate and O’Riley will relish the demands Rodgers will impose on them during the defensive phase. Both players possess great physical traits that allow them to get about the pitch at speed and with aggression that suits the playing style that Rodgers wants.

Attacking & defending Transitions

This low defensive block also presents Celtic with the space and the opportunity to hit teams on the counter-attack in space during the attacking transitions. Oftentimes, when Leicester won the ball in deeper areas, Rodgers wanted his team to break at pace and exploit the spaces in behind opposition defences with more direct vertical passing and runs for forwards in behind. Forwards like Barnes and Vardy found plenty of opportunities to score goals during these attacking transitions as their strengths of pace and movement exploited and punished teams that committed full-backs forward.

Celtic tactics next season with the arrival of Brendan Rogers - Tactical Analysis tactics

Rodgers will be looking for players in forward areas who possess pace and power. Fortunately, at Celtic, he is spoilt for choice. Kyogo is naturally the player that will benefit most from this style of play, with his preference for running in behind and his willingness to move into spaces left vacant by the opposition defences.

Maeda and Jota also possess great speed, with the former’s playing style very similar to Barnes’ in that they are direct and favour runs towards the goal rather than coming to the ball and beating the fullbacks 1 on 1. Though this counter-attacking play style will have to be coached as it will be a new concept compared to the previous manager, they have the players to do it.

Celtic tactics next season with the arrival of Brendan Rogers - Tactical Analysis tactics

With that said, Rodgers will be looking towards his midfield to be able to pick out the runs. Aaron Mooy is adept at this but has largely played a support role from off the bench last season. McGregor has the ability to pick out players between the lines and will likely be able to do the same with incisive balls over the top. O’Riley has also been shown to be capable of long passes, and Taylor is able to do the same from the fullback area as well.

During defensive transitions, Rodgers will ask his team to win the ball back as soon as possible to regain possession during opposition build-up. This was particularly successful in his earlier campaign with Leicester, often catching the opposition out with sharp aggressive bursts of pressure that force the opposition to give the ball away. Celtic players would have been used to this by now with their previous manager instilling a similar approach to their play. 

Again, with the forward players Rodgers has. like Kyogo and Maeda who are unselfish and willing to work for the team, alongside mobile centre-backs like Carter-Vickers and Starfelt, Celtic will look to win the ball back as quickly as possible to attack the goal at every opportunity.


In conclusion, Brendan Rodgers inherits a squad that should suit his preferred style of play very well. The players have grown accustomed to the demands of dominating possession and playing an expansive style of football. Rodgers will look to build on the foundations Postecoglou has laid, implementing his own tactical principles that aim to control games through possession, create chances through vertical runs in behind and transitions, and regain possession aggressively through an organised press.

With a squad blessed with technical and intelligent players, especially in forward areas, Rodgers has the tools to fulfil his tactical vision. His time away from Celtic has seen changes in how he sets his teams up, but the core principles very much remain. Fans should expect to see a team that builds from the back, looks to control the tempo of games, and attacks with speed, power and precision. Defensively, an organised press will aim to frustrate opposition build-up early and win the ball back quickly.

Rodgers will be excited to work with a settled squad that has become accustomed to success. His ambition will be to continue Celtic’s recent domination of Scottish football and improve the team’s performances in Europe. With Champions League football on offer this season, Rodgers will be motivated to hit the ground running.

Overall, there is much to be optimistic about as Rodgers starts his second stint at Celtic Park. The combination of a proven, adaptable coach and a talented, cohesive squad should ensure an exciting era of success at Celtic.