Celtic boss Ange Postekoglou shocked by players: ‘No excuses’ but admits European challenge came ‘too early’

ANGE POSTECOGLOU had no players and no hope.

But he was amazed at how his Bhois didn’t give him any excuses.

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Celtic boss Ange Postekoglou

The big Aussie revealed how his early days at Celtic were tough due to the huge rebuilding work that had to be done.

However, after a few weeks, Postecoglou was confident that they had a chance to win the Premier League title.

He said: “I think all you can do is put yourself in a position to win.

“Until now, we have acted in a certain way, and this has led us to this position, still knowing that the key bit is ahead of us.

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“What you have to rely on is that I have a really stable group of players. People will look back and not understand exactly.

“I mean, I threw players who literally didn’t train with the team to league games because we were in that state at the beginning of the year.

“We have had injuries, Covid has hit us pretty hard at various times. All of this happened, and along the way I could make allowances for the players and just say, “Look, this is a new group of players, we’re going to need time.”

“But I didn’t. I said, “No, we need success.”

“To their credit, this group hasn’t come up with a single excuse all along.

“So when you enter the hardest part of the year, you don’t know how football will turn out, but I have a really strong, stable group of players, a group of people who, no matter what battle is going to be there, whatever problem, they’ll be ready for it.

“So it gives me the confidence and the sanity to say, ‘Well, buddy, we’ll try, I think we can do it.’ But, as you know, in football, until everything is done and cleaned up, you don’t know how everything will turn out.”

Celtic’s European hopes may have ended prematurely, but Postecoglu looks back on being eliminated from three different UEFA competitions and believes it was probably to be expected given the fortunes of the team he inherited from Neil Lennon.

He said, “Yes, if you look back, it may have been too early. I mean our actual group stage was good. We kind of got into it.

“We had Bayer Leverkusen which was a fantastic team and Real Betis who flew to Spain.

“So I knew it would be a big challenge for us.

“Looking at it, we started the band slowly, but we ended up pretty decent, pretty strong.

“We ended up winning three games and many other groups that would help you get through.

“It’s two games against Bodo/Glimt where we kind of let ourselves down.

“You are probably right, perhaps this year we have gone too far to try to compete on several fronts.

“But the reality is that this is a failure on our part because this football club will always participate in Europe and we want to participate in the Champions League.

“So you have to be able to deal with it, endure it, take on that pressure.

“We will learn from this year and this part of the journey has not been successful for us.

“I have to make sure we address these issues, but I’m sure the players would learn a hell of a lot from this whole exercise. Like I said, it’s part of a football club.

“You have to be prepared to play multiple tournaments, you can’t just say, ‘Well, we were going to do two tournaments this year.’ It won’t happen.”

Postecoglu knows that Celtic’s history has not allowed for that kind of thinking.

He said: “This club won the European Cup, how many clubs can boast of that?

“They are one of those clubs that are in rare territory and set a standard to try to uphold. For me, my goal is to get this football club to play in the Champions League and compete.

“There are a few big clubs out there, but you also look at some other clubs that are doing well in the Champions League and you think, ‘Well, we can do it again.’

“This football club can do it. With over 60,000 fans every game, he is focused on success, and has a history and tradition of competing at the highest level. So there shouldn’t be any obstacles.

“You have to be successful domestically because that gets you into it.

“On top of that, you have to be determined enough to say, well, this is where we want to be as a football club. We want to play in the Champions League, have an impact in the Champions League. To be honest, this is the biggest driver for me.

“I know that I need to succeed domestically, but the biggest impact I can have at this football club is to influence Europe.”

One thing is certain: Postecoglou has no plans to return to Australia anytime soon and return to his former job as national team manager.

He added: “I don’t think so. I think I’ve done my time.

“I look back with great pride and great satisfaction at what we have been able to achieve in these four years.

“I know that other people have different views, but I would like to stop there.

“I think it’s funny to me how we Australians think sometimes we don’t want to raise our own too high.

“We just want to keep everyone in balance.

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“I think going back there won’t change anything. It’s not going to do anything else.

“Even now, I feel more respected in Japan than in Australia.”

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