“What we tried to do in this whole Champions League campaign,” Ange Postecoglou

Ange Postecoglou spoke to the media after yesterday’s 3-0 win at Livingston which restored Celtic’s four points advantage at the top of the league, looking down on theRangers. Here are the questions that were asked and the Celtic manger’s responses….

Q: You must be delighted with the decisiveness of that victory in a place that is very difficult to come and get results, isn’t it?

Ange Postecoglou: “Everyone knows that it is a difficult venue and an opponent, and they make it hard for the opposition. Anybody that comes here knows they are in for a tough game, and we knew that as well. I was really pleased as we had a really strong mentality about our performance today. From my perspective that was the pleasing thing as it can become a really difficult game and I am not saying it was easy but we controlled it playing our football.”

Q: You created and scored some very well-executed goals today didn’t you?

Ange Postecoglou: ‘I thought our general play was good and our goals were good and I thought we could probably have had two or three more. We dealt with their threats as well. They try and get the ball in the box any way they can whether that’s throw-ins or free-kicks and we had to deal with that. We handled that really well as they are threats and Joe Hart wasn’t really troubled. I thought in a typically tough place to come our mentality was pretty good today.”

Q: How pleased were you for Greg Taylor in his 100th game getting a goal and an assist?

Ange Postecoglou: “Yes, that’s great for Greg and like all our players he has improved a hell of a lot because he wants to improve. I have tried to set up an environment where players can be the best they can be and constantly improve but they have to embrace it and he certainly has.

“From the moment I arrived, he is one of the few who have stayed on and you can see he is growing all the time as a footballer. He got a great goal today and with the way we play with our full-backs we want them to be an attacking threat. I think he is growing into that aspect of it and his general play has been really strong all year. He is still relatively young and there is more to come.”

Q: The first goal will have pleased you as it is full-back to full-back and then onto Kyogo and that typifies the way you want Celtic to play doesn’t it?

Ange Postecoglou: “When you come to the place against a team like Livingston who is going to be disciplined and you know they are going to work hard and if you just play in a traditional way you can overcome it but it can become sticky and I think the fact that we can rotate our players in our positions and get them to find spaces I think helps us in a game like today.”

Q: A word on Aaron Mooy and just how influential he was and are we now starting to see exactly why you brought him to the club in the first place?

Ange Postecoglou: “With Aaron Moo), Sead Haksabanovic, and Oliver Abildgaard, all the guys who came in late, we knew it would take time for them to get up to speed and people don’t realise in six months there was literally one game in between.

“We didn’t have high expectations but we had to keep things going so he had to get up to speed and get fit by playing and that probably didn’t do him any favours because he probably looked a little bit off the pace. But I know him really well, I know what kind of player he is and he is growing into it. He will go to the World Cup and I think we will see the best of him in the second part of the year and he will be an important player for us.”

Q: What about Jota’s impact too?

Ange Postecoglou:  “Yes, I was really disappointed for Jota. It is easy to forget he had a great start to the season, he was incredible for us. For him to miss the last period, along with Callum McGregor, is disappointing for him more than anything else because he wanted to make an impact at the Champions League level. He scored against Leipzig, he was looking good and he has worked hard in rehab. We still have four games to go before the break and again in the second half of the year I am sure he will be back to his best and looking to improve because again he is a young player as well.”

Q; Is it a testament to the team that they have not missed Callum McGregor and Jota too much – have they?

Ange Postecoglou: “I think it is important. This time last year it was a challenge with key players missing and we kind of ground our way through and got the results. The football wasn’t anything like it is now and we have a much better squad now, more rounded, I am obviously rotating the team which I think helps us maintain a level of performance because we are not fatigued but at the same time if you are making so many changes as I have it is bound to affect a little bit of our rhythm but again to give the players credit we haven’t allowed it to affect us, the mentality has been strong and that has been key to where we are now.”

Q: What about Joel Nouble and the tussle with Cameron Carter-Vickers – it was a good old-fashioned football scrap and tussle wasn’t it?

Ange Postecoglou:“He  is such a physical threat. We knew that if we could quell that as much as possible we would give ourselves a good platform for success.”

Q: What about Kyogo scoring and being back in business again?

Ange Postecoglou: “I think we’ve been a little bit unfair to him. As a striker, you love a run of games. This time last year, he was scoring every week because I was playing him every week. Then he did his hamstring and he was out for two months. I wasn’t going to let that happen again this year.

“Having him and Giako means that we can get goals out of both of them. In a normal season, you’d be saying one of them will probably have a bigger run at it like Kyogo did last year. I’m really mindful that we need to get the best out of both guys for our team performance. Kyogo being in and out probably hasn’t helped him but he is a quality striker. I see him every day. He was a threat last year and he will be a massive threat this year. He is improving all the time.”

Q: How do you approach the Real Madrid game given that it is not the situation you wanted to be in?

Ange Postecoglou: “I don’t think that really matters. What we tried to do in this whole Champions League campaign is experience it in the context of us testing ourselves. We have done that every game. I understand we have come up short. We know the areas we have come up short in, the areas we are looking to improve.

“They are not easy to improve. In every game, we have not shied away from the contest. We haven’t gone in there fearing what the outcome may be if we take our normal approach. We have just gone in there and seen how we measure up and that’s what we’ll do on Wednesday night. From that perspective, I’m really proud of the players because it would have been easier just to go out there with damage limitation on your mind. But they are looking forward to it. They are looking forward to testing themselves again.

“As I keep sayings the only way to get something out of these experiences is by not going into your shell and fearing what the outcome is going to be but by taking as bold an approach as we can. And that’s what we’ve done. Yes, we are disappointed.

“Yes, we wanted our results to be better. But no one can tell me that we haven’t gone into every game playing our football and testing ourselves. Whether people think that deserves merit or not is kind of irrelevant to me. That gives me an accurate gauge as to where we are at. I’m under no illusions as to the areas we need to improve in. Neither are the players. And we will only get to that space if we really test ourselves.”

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 editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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