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Not paying attention: Ange Postecoglou on why he’s confident Celtic can continue to confound their rivals

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ANGE Postecoglou has stressed he is unconcerned about the tactics which enabled Celtic to win a Premier Sports Cup and cinch Premiership double last season proving ineffective in the 2022/23 campaign because rival teams have figured out how to counteract them. 

Postecoglou’s team take on Aberdeen in their first competitive fixture of the new term at Parkhead tomorrow and the Greek-Australian is keen for them to get the defence of their title underway with a win.   

He believes the Glasgow giants will have to perform even better in the weeks ahead than they did during his first 12 months in this country if they are to be crowned Scottish champions next May – but he is still confident that “Angeball” will cause their opponents problems.

Asked if he felt the other top flight clubs will have worked out how to nullify the threat that Celtic pose, he said: “It depends how closely they have been paying attention. My experience is they don’t usually.

“That is a major challenge for every football manager and every club.  Once you have that performance, even if that performance is good and has brought you success in the past, invariably it can happen that someone can go past you.

“So I think that irrespective of what you have done the previous year, the aim to always try and improve and be stronger and perform at better levels. That’s our aim.

“If we do that and with the base of what we achieved last year, we know we’ll give ourselves an opportunity for success.

“There’s no guarantee because someone else out there could be absolutely flying and we can’t catch them, so you just don’t know that or what will happen. What I do know is that if we perform, we give ourselves the best chance of achieving something.”

Former Yokohama F Marinos manager Postecoglou had to completely rebuild his squad last summer after arriving from Japan and was still short of cover in key positions after the transfer window closed at the end of August.

He admitted the build-up to this season has been less stressful and is expressed hope the work he has done with his charges during the summer will help them to pick up where they left off in May. 

“It is definitely different, for sure,” he said. “Last pre-season was chaotic and frenetic as we had people coming and going. Same when the season started after round one in terms of players moving in and out.

“So it’s been a different pre-season. We’ve been able to plan it differently and make sure we got a certain amount of work done you can’t do when there is uncertainty around as there was last year. From that point of view, it’s been good.

“But like every beginning of a season, our pre-season last year wasn’t great, but it didn’t stop us from being champions. That’s not an indicator of how you’ll go. The fact we’ve had a calmer pre-season doesn’t guarantee we will be ready to go on Sunday.

“We have to make sure we come out and try to play our best and show the pre-season we have had has prepared us for what’s ahead.”

Postecoglou confirmed that Carl Starfelt, the Swedish centre half who has missed pre-season due to a hamstring problem, will not be available for the Aberdeen match and revealed that Yosuke Ideguchi, the Japanese midfielder, had also suffered an injury. 

“Sunday is too soon for Carl,” he said. “He just got back with the group. He’ll have a full session on Saturday and then we’ll give him a chance to have a full week with us.

“But he’s ticked all the boxes with the medical and the sports science departments, so he’s been cleared fully and, hopefully, he’ll be available for selection the week after.

“Everyone else is okay apart from, unfortunately, Ideguchi. He picked a pretty nasty injury in training. He had to have some stitches in his leg so he’ll be missing for a few weeks. But everyone else is okay.

“His injury doesn’t change it (his transfer plans). We are still going to be active and there are weeks in the window to go.

“So while we’ve done the main part of our business early, which was important for me, we still expect there will be some comings and goings before the end of the window.”

Postecoglou admitted he is eager for winger Mikey Johnston, who has been linked with a move to Standard Liege in Belgium, to go out on loan in order to get regular competitive football this season.

“He’s one of the ones who I’m keen to get out there and get some games,” he said. “He’s been really unfortunate with injuries, but this pre-season he hasn’t missed a session and he’s been great.

“But he’s at an age where I think he needs a strong season behind him. He’s going to get limited opportunities here, so we are working with Mikey to try and find a solution for that and try to get him some solid game-time over this season so he can progress to the next level of his career.”

https://www.heraldscotland.com/sport/20589376.not-paying-attention-ange-postecoglou-confident-celtic-can-continue-confound-rivals/?ref=rss

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