Colin Watt had the honours of representing A Celtic State of Mind at today’s pre-match press conference with Ange Postecoglou, and left with the rare gift of friendly “mate” and wry smile from the gaffer.
The manager appeared calm and relaxed throughout the press conference and was in good spirits as he fielded questions from the assembled media.
Before getting to Colin’s questions, Ange confirmed the that Reo Hatate has lost his battle to be fit for the game and will miss tomorrow’s fixture along with James Forrest and Liel Abada.
On Missing Reo
Losing Hatate will obviously be a blow to the Celtic midfield, however, with Aaron Mooy returning from injury and Tomoki Iwata and Matt O’Riley available to play alongside Callum McGregor, Ange still has a number of good options to choose from.
“I thought Tomoki handled it well last week so I’m pretty comfortable with his progress and I know what he can deliver for us. But as I said, we’ve got Aaron back, we’ve got Tomoki available, there’s Matty (O’Riley), Turnbull, McGregor we’re really strong in that midfield area. That gives us some real options in there and we’re going to need them tomorrow.”
When asked what he expecting from the game, Ange replied in typical style:
“I think we’re expecting, a tough game. They’re very good side and it’s a big game. There’s a bit of an edge to all big games and you know that both teams are going to have their moments, I don’t think it’s going to be any different tomorrow. We’re looking forward to it and being at home with all our support there it should be cracking atmosphere.”
The gaffer then quickly shot down a question regarding how much winning the three points tomorrow would mean to Celtic’s title ambitions, simply stating that “It’ll be exactly three points.” An answer designed more highlighted Ange’s one game at a time philosophy more than anything else.
When Colin Met Ange
ACSOM’s Colin then got in on the act asking Ange for his thoughts on playing the same opposition 4 to 6 times a season, and if this adds or devalues the tie. Ange admitted this was a question he would love to have a broader discussion on this topic, but that tomorrow’s game was all consuming at this time.
Colin then followed up by asking how important the players personality and character is when signing a player, highlighting Alistair Johnston as an example of one such player who fitted in seamlessly since his arrival and “gets” the club.
“It’s a combination of things” Ange said, “one, as you said it’s the player themselves in terms of the kind of person he is and the personality. We try to get characters and personalities that we think will fit into the culture. The second is the group, the way they embrace new players into it.”
“It’s like your first day of school and if no one sits with you at lunch then you’re not going to really be buzzing about the day ahead – although to be fair no one sits with me at lunch but I’ve adjusted well” he joked. “But the group’s really good at sort thing. Anyone new coming in is made to feel welcome, whether that’s the leaders like Callum or the other boys making sure that they feel comfortable.”
“Ultimately, it’s down to the player, like Alistair, to come in and know that he’s going to have to perform really well to make an impact, that he wants to make an impact and he wants to take this opportunity. He (Alistair Johnston) has done awfully well for us and is fitting really well as have all the new boys (Yuki, Tomoki, and big Oh). They’ve all settled him well so I think it’s a combination of all those factors.”
Ange even allowed himself a smile and a laugh with Colin when Colin suggested that there might be 60,000 fans wanting to buy Ange lunch if we get the three points tomorrow.
If Ange is laughing at one of Colin’s jokes, you know he is feeling calm and relaxed about the game ahead.