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Sport Ange Postecoglou names the Celtic aspect that's pleased him most as boss says Carl Starfelt was 'unfairly judged'

10:55  05 december  2021
10:55  05 december  2021 Source:   dailyrecord.co.uk

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Best defensive record in the league.

That accolade probably wasn’t top of Ange Postecoglou ’s priority list when he took over as Celtic manager.

Because the Aussie gaffer and his teams are renowned for a more free-flowing, attacking style of football.

And since he arrived at Parkhead in the summer, it’s his forward players like Jota and Kyogo Furuhashi who have hogged the limelight for some scintillating performances.

At the start of Postecoglou’s tenure, his revamped rearguard looked decidedly ropey, especially in Europe.

He had to integrate new signings at the back, which included goalkeeper Joe Hart, centre-backs Carl Starfelt and Cameron Carter-Vickers and full-back Josip Juranovic.

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And slowly but surely the Hoops have become stronger and more resilient.

The perception that Postecoglou’s side are vulnerable and can be got at, is now a myth, judging by the current league table. Having conceded just 10 goals in 14 Premiership games, they’re the top-flight’s meanest outfit.

And Postecoglou is delighted that, as well as posing a threat going forward, they can also shut the back door when required – just as they did in the 1-0 win over Hearts on Thursday night.

Ahead of today’s clash with Dundee United at Tannadice, the Celtic boss said: “People look at certain games and the times when we have conceded a number of goals have been against decent opposition in Europe.

  Ange Postecoglou names the Celtic aspect that's pleased him most as boss says Carl Starfelt was 'unfairly judged' © SNS Group

“People measure it against that but, overall, we have been pretty steady defensively.

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“The thing that pleased me most about the Hearts game was the resilience the guys showed.

“If you look at our back-four at the end of the game, not one of them started the previous game in those same positions.

“Adam Montgomery, Starfelt, Nir Bitton –who didn’t even play in the previous game – and Josip was playing at right-back instead of left-back.

“So we had to show real resilience and a mindset to keep the opposition out.

“For me, that’s the pleasing thing. We are reacting to these challenges really positively.

“We are not making excuses or allowances. We’re just getting on with it.”


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If Celtic are going to finish the campaign at the top of the defensive charts, they’ll need Swedish stopper Starfelt to perform like he did against the Jambos on a regular basis.

The former Rubin Kazan stopper took time to settle in Glasgow then picked up an injury before his return in midweek.

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  Ange Postecoglou names the Celtic aspect that's pleased him most as boss says Carl Starfelt was 'unfairly judged' © Getty Images

Postecoglou reckons some of the flak he got for his early displays wasn’t warranted.

And the gaffer now expects Starfelt to show the kind of form that made Celtic pay £4million for his services.

Postecoglou said: “Carl is looking good and for me the most important thing isn’t about how they are when they come in – it’s about how they progress.

“We play differently from a lot of other teams and put different expectations on our players.

“Carl had it as tough as anyone. We threw him in without a pre-season, virtually without a training session, and asked him to play alongside guys he had never met before. He was unfairly judged in many respects.

“Since he has become accustomed to what we do, he has played really well, even before his injury .

“Carl and Cam have a really good relationship at the back so we were really pleased to get him back in on Thursday night.

  Ange Postecoglou names the Celtic aspect that's pleased him most as boss says Carl Starfelt was 'unfairly judged' © SNS Group

“I was concerned at how he would go for 90 minutes but he finished the game strongly. I thought he was outstanding.”

Celtic are still chasing leaders Rangers at the top of the table and will look to close the gap again today at Tannadice.

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Postecoglou has so far refused to get involved in any title race talk, preferring to focus solely on his team’s performances and progress.

He admits that he DOES regularly look at the league but it won’t have an effect on what he and his players are trying to do.

Before the trip to Tayside, he said: “I always look at the league table. But I don’t then walk away thinking something has changed dramatically.

“The table takes care of itself. What you do know is that every time you get three points, you’re in a good position.

“What’s important is that we keep a real focus on who we are and what we want to be.

“At this club, you always know there is going to be outside noise and distractions.

“People want to drag you into different areas. But what’s important to us is what happens on the green stuff.

“The ladder adjusts itself. We can only add to our points tally and let it go from there.

“Our away performances have been good this season. We’ve had some difficult encounters in recent weeks and managed to overcome them.

“It’s another different challenge for us at Tannadice.

“We need to bring the right energy to the game, play our football and show the resilience we’ve displayed home and away.

“Every game has unique challenges within it.

“But we’ll go there with the intent of being the dominant team and getting the job done.”

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