What can we take away from Ange’s post-match comments?

Ange Postecoglou was, quite rightly, extremely disappointed in defeat after Saturday’s game.

The former Australian international didn’t shy away from the fact that his team were absolutely not at the races against Rangers at the weekend. As we have come to expect from Ange, we got a blunt summation of his observations. He pulled no punches, rarely does, and we were left to piece together our own summary of Ange’s post-match reactions.


Talking to BBC Sportsound, Postecoglou said:

“It’s a disappointing day and outcome. The performance wasn’t great. We had our moments, but we didn’t take our opportunities. If you take those chances, momentum shifts.”

We definitely did create chances, and at critical times in the contest into the bargain. When Oh Hyeon-gyu was facing Robby McCrorie (who was making just his fourth appearance between the sticks for the Ibrox side) a mere sixty seconds after Todd Cantwell opened the scoring, the South Korean failed to capitalise on the magnificent Liel Abada through-ball, and his dink came off the upright and bounced away to safety.

Abada himself had the next opportunity to equalise when Tony Ralston found him on the penalty spot after 15 minutes. Abada’s shot was weak, he failed to execute Ralston’s fizzing pin-point cross, and the momentum remained with the home side.

By the time that Matt O’Riley was presented with his first of two opportunities to jump-start Celtic’s afternoon either side of the half-time interval, Rangers had already doubled their lead. Ralston was again the supplier with a cross from the right that O’Riley should have done better with. If he pulled one back just before half-time then, just as Ange pointed out, he shifts the momentum back in Celtic’s favour.

Another opportunity to steer that impetus in Celtic’s direction came a few minutes after half-time, and it was created – and missed – by O’Riley, who done so well to initially craft the chance, but should have slotted it away after all the hard work was done. These are the big moments that Ange alluded to, but we lacked that clinical edge that has come so naturally to the side for most of the domestic campaign.


“Second half we lost our way a little bit. I don’t set the standards, the football club does. You have to embrace that as a manger or a player or you won’t succeed here.”

After O’Riley missed his own golden opportunity on 49 minutes, Celtic did indeed lose their way. There was a lack of intensity and guile, no cutting edge, a sloppiness in the pass, and far too many under-performers in the second-half. When Rangers extended their lead even further on 70 minutes – another self-inflicted wound – it came as no surprise and the home side were on easy street for the final 20 minutes.

It was a difficult watch for Celtic fans across the globe behind TV screens, mobiles, and any other devices they could get their hands on, and the type of performance we are not accustomed to suffering under our esteemed manager. In referring to the standards that the club demands, Ange clearly understands the expectations of Celtic’s fanbase. It is not an entitlement to win, it is a refusal to accept defeat.

“It doesn’t take away from the outstanding levels the guys have reached this season, but we need to perform at certain levels, and we didn’t reach them today.”

We were miles off it on Saturday, but the manager isn’t about to tear it up and start again. He has built a side, a culture, and a mentality, that can’t be moulded overnight. It certainly won’t crumble after one below-par performance either. You get the sense that Ange doesn’t need reminded by us of the club’s standards. He was perhaps being too humble when talking about who sets the bar. He travelled to Glasgow from the other side of the world and has worked tirelessly to attain these very levels. Ange won’t be slow in reminding his squad just how difficult it has been. Just how tight the league race was last season. And just what is still required to get us to where he wants us to be.


When asked by Celtic TV what he could take and learn from the game, the Celtic manager was in no mood to hold back, as he responded:

“It’s not the first time players have sort of been thrown in in the derby under me and that’s the expectations, you know? You don’t get a freebie. From our perspective, we had a team out there we thought could get the job done today and we didn’t.”

It’s clear that Ange believed the changes he made were good enough to get the three points, but ultimately that is what contributed to his side losing the derby. What does this say about the quality of our ‘back-ups’? Are we seriously only four key players from being at this level? There is one thing for sure, Ange was in no mood to shirk his own responsibilities when chatting to Sky Sports:

“The amount of changes I made probably didn’t help in terms of the guys lacking a little bit of sharpness, but at the end of the day we just weren’t good enough.”

Ange will now be looking at the weekend’s defeat as an eye-opener and one that proves that many positions still need strengthening. When asked about the standards he has set at the club and whether he was surprised with the lack of sharpness from his players he answered: “I don’t look at it that way. Every game is a challenge. Every game is an opportunity whether you are on a good or a poor run that doesn’t mean that a performance needs to flow from that. We’ve never felt like just because we are playing well that the next game will go well. We’ve had to work awfully hard at it to make sure we maintain those levels and we didn’t get to them today.”

It is certainly a learning curve for Ange and his side; something to ponder as we enter another transfer window and plan for another tilt at the Champions League. However, we have seen how quickly this side can bounce back after a disappointment and I have no doubt that Ange will have them firing on all cylinders in time for the Scottish Cup final.


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