What Ange Postecoglou said to his Celtic players before St Johnstone game

Ange Postecoglou envisaged a tough afternoon in Perth for his Celtic side, prior to an impressive and professional 4-1 win in the Fair City in Sunday’s lunchtime Scottish Premiership fixture.

His concerns centred particularly on a dreadful playing surface which appeared to cut up during the pre-match warm up, never mind when the game got into full swing. However, the manager was in no mood for any such excuses and his words must have been heeded as Celtic emerged with a pitch-perfect performance in Perth.

In the end a six-point lead was once again extended to nine, no doubt much to the angst of theRangers back in second spot. And Postecoglou’s assertion that the pitch should not be viewed as an excuse for deviating from their successful style of play, proved to be the right way to go about maintaining Celtic’s advantage at the top of the league, as the Hoops look to retain their title won so impressively last season.

As reported by Glasgow Times it was all about mind over matter, or principles over pitch in this case.

“It is very easy to come here today and think it is going to be a bit of a grind and you just want to get the three points and get up the road. But I said to the lads before the game: don’t waste any game of football, there is a goal to be found out there all the time if you are prepared to stick to your principles.

“It’s pleasing the players look for that. They’re not just going out there and saying ‘let’s get the three points and get on with it’. They wanted to put on a strong performance and they did.”

The strength in depth the Celtic manager has assembled in just 18 months in charge has been a key component in Celtic’s tempo often being maintained for 90 plus minutes every week, and yesterday was no different.

Despite a second half that lacked the goal returns of the first 45 minutes, it was three of the Celtic subs that linked up for the training ground set-piece that saw Celtic net a deserved fourth goal.

Latest signing Oh Hyeon-gyu initially won a free-kick that led to the dismissal of St Johnstone’s Andy Considine, before Matt O’Riley played the set piece into the path of David Turnbull who completed Celtic’s scoring with a fine drive, something Postecoglou says underlines the strength of squad at his disposal.

“Everyone wants to play,” the Celtic boss stated. “I understand that as a manager. Guys are disappointed not starting, guys are disappointed not getting on the pitch or in the squad. I think it is also important you use that disappointment in the right way and contribute when you are out there. Matt O’Riley was great when he came on, and Oh and Dave contribute to the goal.

“It is important for us because particularly in this stretch now when we have a game a week there won’t be the opportunity for guys to get game time. But I know what they’ll do is work hard at training and be ready when they are called up.”

Next up is St Mirren in the Scottish Cup for Celtic, and a chance for Ange Postecoglou to claim the only trophy to have eluded him so far in his short and impressive time as Celtic manager.

It may well be that squad depth will once again play a part against the only side to defeat the Hoops in domestic football this season, but at least the playing surface should be – marginally – better than what Celtic had to perform on in Perth yesterday.

After his incredible first season at Celtic former manager Brendan Rodgers asked the Board to instal a hybrid pitch at Celtic Park, at a cost of, from memory, £2m. What a poor return on investment that has turned out to be and questions should be asked about what looks like a complete waste of money.

Niall J

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About Author

As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was the finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parkhead's gates.

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