Ange Postecoglou allows himself a glimpse into the Celtic future – “It’s going to be something special”

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou celebrates with the Premiership trophy.

The 56-year-old almost got dizzy at what is to come after a Cinch Premiership title triumph so royally toasted when she presented the Cinch Premiership silverware after her 6-0 win over Motherwell on the final day got.

Indeed, there was more than a twinkle in his eye as he tried to answer soberly whether he had thought of the fabled Champions League group stage nights that his team’s exploits will return to Celtic Park in September after a five-year absence. Before that, he couldn’t help but reveal his true feelings. “Not yet,” he said before elaborating: “When the draw comes out, it’s going to be real, but it’s going to be special. Everyone talks to me about Champions League nights here at Celtic Park and there’s nothing quite like it. It’s going to be bloody brilliant.”

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The brilliance of his extensively renewed squad is undeniable, as their last game marked their 32nd unbeaten league game, the latest of their three defeats last September as they struggled to export their incisive and effervescent frontfoot football. It could be argued that Postecoglou left himself hostage to fate, telling an enthusiastic home fanatic in a post-game speech that his Celtic team would be ‘bigger and better’ next season. With 93 points and 92 goals, the bar for improvement is enormously high, but the 56-year-old pointed to one aspect of his recovery that gives him confidence in raising the standards for next season.

“If you look at 80 per cent of this squad, I would say they haven’t done any pre-season,” said the Celtic manager. “They either came after the pre-season or in winter or were injured. We have a lot of players like Kyogo and David Turnbull who missed big parts of the season because we overwhelmed them early in the season. We will see a natural improvement because we are at a much better starting point. The challenge then is to keep pushing the players and beefing up the squad to make us stronger. Where we start on the first day of the pre-season will be far ahead of us.

“There is no secret. I say to players that the magic out there every day comes from pure hard work. Training every day and trying to get better, pushing each other and respecting everyone you work with. Just hard work, sweat and tears. Challenge yourself every day. It’s easy to say, but only if you do it can you create something special.

“This group did that — they committed to a cause. We wanted to play a certain way and we stuck to it. It was our roadmap to success and we didn’t want to deviate from it. There have been some tough times, especially in Europe. We were beaten a couple of times but we didn’t change our approach. We are bearing the fruit now. In a game we could have just tried to get through, we played six against another team and play the kind of football this club and the fans want to see.” Ange Postecoglou allows himself a glimpse into the Celtic future – “It’s going to be something special”

Matthew Hallett

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