Livingston v Celtic: “We know if we play well we will be hard to stop,” Ange Postecoglou

Ange Postecoglou might just have a little more respect for Livingston boss David Martindale that for most of the other managers he’s faced in Scottish football and of course on his first visit to the West Lothian stadium last September he found out the hard way why previous Celtic teams have struggled so much on that artificial surface.

David Martindale. Photo Jane Barlow

The Celtic manager always had to struggle with limited resources at his disposal while coaching in the A-League back home in Australia, with wage caps and comparatively tiny budgets at his disposal but he never allowed that to stop him making his sides into title winners. And even in Scotland, he’s gone into the Champions League knowing that Celtic’s resources are tiny compared to the likes of Real Madrid and even RB Leipzig but that never stopped Celtic playing the game the way Postecoglou wants it played and making a real fist of each and every match.

Yet while Martindale plays a different style of football, there is a necessity in that too, as Livingston might just have the smallest budget in the Scottish Premiership but continually punch above their weight. Postecoglou accepts that there is no right or wrong way to play the game and that Martindale’s approach is just as valid as his own.

And he knows that Livingston away is one of those fixtures that stand out as one where Celtic are likely to face a severe challenge. The Celtic manager goes to West Lothian knowing his side have just played a gruelling Champions League match earlier in the week as a hectic schedule of fixtures, caused to accommodate the break for the World Cup, continue.

Albian Ajeti during the Premiership match at Livingston last September.: Photo Andrew Milligan

“I don’t think it’s any different from any other fixture. We’ve had this schedule for weeks now, and at least we were at home in midweek and have the extra day’s recovery.

“It’s always going to be a challenge there. That doesn’t change, regardless of the result in March. They are a good football team. They make things hard for any opposition. We know conditions can be difficult with the pitch but also with the way they play. They make life difficult for teams going there,” the Celtic manager stated.

“It’s not just for us. It’s the same for most teams. It doesn’t matter if you’ve won or lost the previous game or games, the challenge remains the same.

“Obviously we lost the first one there last season. We embraced the challenge in the return and I think it was a really strong performance on the day. That’s what we’re looking for again this weekend.”

Livingston v Celtic September 2021 – Ange Postecoglou. Photo Andrew Milligan

“There’s no right and wrong way to play. People sell Livingston short if they think they are one-dimensional. They work awfully hard, but that’s the basis of every team, including ours. That’s the bit people overlook. It doesn’t matter where they are on the ladder, and yeah, the styles between the sides might be a bit different.

“But both teams pride themselves on their hard work. From our perspective we need to match it.”

Tony Ralston celebrating his cross that led to an own goal at Livingston. Photo Steve Welsh

Livingston got the better of Celtic last September but Celtic sorted that out on the next visit in March this year with a comprehensive 3-1 win on a day when Postecoglou’s team selection was clearly made with the conditions and the surface in mind.  Expect more of the same from Celtic tomorrow.

“It will be a tough game. It always is particularly at their place. Last year we went there early in the season and didn’t play well and we paid the price. On our second trip there we performed a lot better and it was a strong performance and we got the result.

“They are a hard-working team and they are really hard to beat particularly at home. That is the challenge that is before us. Our form home and away in the league has been pretty consistent and our results certainly show that. We have got to try and play well and overcome them.”

Livingston v Celtic – Daizen Maeda celebrates opening the scoring. Photo: Steve Welsh

“They are a really hard-working side which makes them hard to overcome. I think they have similar traits to us in the respect that we are also hard-working as well. The game tends to be played physically or with the sheer work rate then they provide that.

IMAGO / PA Images

“Particularly at home with the pitch as well it is something that they are more comfortable with. Those are the challenges that you have to overcome. What is more important is what we can do and what threats we can pose and the football we play. Within that context we know if we play well we will be hard to stop.”

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email

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