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new parkhead era Celtic boss refuses to stop believing in Bhoy’s high-tariff ‘Angeball’ style of football

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Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou celebrates victory after the final whistle during the weekend game at Motherwell. Photo: Steve Welsh/PA Wire

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou celebrates victory after the final whistle during the weekend game at Motherwell. Photo: Steve Welsh/PA Wire

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou celebrates victory after the final whistle during the weekend game at Motherwell. Photo: Steve Welsh/PA Wire

Repetition on the one hand, retaliation on the other. Those are the motivating factors in the respective camps as Celtic and Ferencvaros prepare for their Europa League group-stage tie at Parkhead this afternoon, each aware that defeat would effectively end their chance of progress to the knockout stage.

The teams had never met until last season, when Neil Lennon’s side lost 2-1 in Glasgow in a Champions League second-round qualifier, prompting the Northern Irishman to condemn the attitude of some of his players and begin a stand-off that ended with the manager’s departure amidst the ruins of the Hoops’ hopes of 10 successive Scottish titles. It has been Ange Postecoglou’s job to supervise a major reconstruction job in the east end of Glasgow.

When they are in full attacking flow, the forward trio of Liel Abada, Kyogo Furuhashi and Joao Jota have the Parkhead faithful purring. Postecoglou, though, has yet to construct a similarly effective back line and his commitment to an expansive game – dubbed “Angeball” by the fans – has come at a cost.

Celtic’s opening group match against Real Betis in Seville ended in a 4-3 loss and they shipped four goals without reply at home to Bayer Leverkusen last time out, to give them the unwelcome distinction of having conceded more than any other team in the tournament this season. When it was suggested to him that his was a high-tariff style, Postecoglou said: “I haven’t heard that one before, that’s pretty accurate.

“I enjoy that part of it, the fact that people debate the merits or otherwise, and whether I should take a pragmatic approach. But for me, that’s what I believe in, that’s what I think will bring us success. I did it at a World Cup [with Australia] facing up to Robben, Van Persie, Iniesta, Villa. I took that approach, we paid a price – or a high tariff – then, but I still think it’s the way forward.”

He was similarly ebullient when asked if the team might not profit on occasions such as this by employing two sitting midfielders to cover the back line rather than have a pair sit behind the front three. “My view on that is, if you are a strict vegetarian, do you drop into Macca’s just because you are hungry?

“This is what I believe in. I don’t believe in it because I am trying to prove something, I just believe it is truly the way to create a special team. It’s not easy, sure, and you have to get the balance right, but I’ve had so much success doing it this way, I’m a believer in it and it’s how I think we will become a special team.”


Should Celtic prevail in this, the first instalment of a European double-header against Hungarian opponents, it will, according to Postecoglou, be in large part the outcome of his exposure to the greatest footballer ever to come out of Hungary. Ferenc Puskas, the legendary striker, was in his last club post as a manager at South Melbourne between 1989 and 1992 when Postecoglou played there.

“He’d tell us almost not to worry about the results, don’t listen to the media, just play football for fun and go out there to score goals,” Postecoglou said. “He used to play with two wingers and tell them never to come back past the halfway line.”

Celtic v Ferencvaros,
Live, BT Sport 1, 3.30

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