Ange Postecoglou purrs over one Celtic standout and says his 'inkling' is paying off
The Japanese holding midfielder was handed his first start following his January move from Yokahama F Marinos and the Australian considered that the 25-year-old’s assured display on what he regarded as an unhelpful pitch set him apart from any of those in the visiting ranks. “He was great,” the Celtic manager said. “He was the one who looked most sure-footed in terms of the pitch and the handling of the ball. He’s so clean technically. He really helped us considering it was his first 90 minutes after three months. He finished strongly at the end. I was really pleased I got him out and he showed his qualities out there.”
Postecoglou is confident Iwata will “get the benefit” of being deliberately eased in – the player only had 124 minutes under his belt before his full 90 in Dingwall – through learning from the experiences of Daizen Maeda and Reo Hatate previously. Fellow transfer window arrivals Oh Hyeon-gyu and Yuki Kobayashi finding themselves in a similar position.
“Last year we found, after they [Maeda and Hatate] were thrown in quite early, they started strongly but fatigued towards the end of the season,” Postecoglou said. “[In coming to Scotland in January from the J-League and K-League] they come off a full season, so it’s a different feel for them at this stage of the season. So my inkling, if it worked out, was to have the three of them embedded slowly and give them opportunities along the way. The hope is in the last bit of the season they will be really strong. We will see the best of them after they’ve had a pre-season but after looking at it today, he [Iwata] looked really strong.”