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Sport Ange Postecoglou wary of Celtic pre season narrative as boss doesn't subscribe to popular theory

08:50  30 july  2022
08:50  30 july  2022 Source:   dailyrecord.co.uk

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Ange Postecoglou has gone through a completely different build-up this time around. But as far as he is concerned nothing has really changed – 12 months ago Postecoglou went into day one of the Premiership campaign with chaos, uncertainty and disappointment in the background.

  Ange Postecoglou wary of Celtic pre season narrative as boss doesn't subscribe to popular theory © SNS Group

Celtic had just returned from Denmark after a painful exit from the Champions League at the hands of Midtjylland and the manager was frantically trying to acquire signings to build a squad. Postecoglou was juggling those incoming stars while also having to use individuals he knew weren’t going to be in his long-term planning.

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Before that first game against Hearts at Tynecastle they were barely given a chance in the title race. Fast forward from July 31, 2021 to July 31, 2022 and everything will be the opposite. There’s no worries over Champions League qualifiers because last term’s successes means Celtic don’t have any.

The nucleus of Postecoglou’s squad has been in place for months and there is a settled and harmonious feel around the camp. Unlike last year when they were rated as complete underdogs, Celtic are now the favourites to go back to back in the eyes of many observers as they get ready for their curtain-raiser on home soil against Aberdeen.

But as the manager rightly points out, the carnage of last summer did not stop his charges from flying to the title. Which in turn makes him understand fully a serene preparation doesn’t automatically mean it’s all going to be plain sailing now.

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As far as Postecoglou is concerned, delivering on the park is only true barometer. His quickly-assembled side managed to do so for the majority of last term and that’s the only thing that will count on this occasion, too.

Postecoglou assessed the alterations in the mood and make-up of the preparation and said: “It’s definitely different, for sure. Last pre-season, I’ve mentioned it a few times, 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 our pre-season last year wasn’t great and it didn’t stop us from being champions. So 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.

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

Of course before the action gets under way in Glasgow’s East End, there will be an opportunity for the Celtic fans to celebrate what was achieved in those unlikely circumstances last term. Postecoglou’s team took time to settle as their new resources settled into the place but when they did the results were devastating.

Celtic have not lost a Premiership game since last September at Livingston and that magnificent unbeaten run allowed them to overhaul Rangers in the table and keep pole position when they claimed it at the beginning of February.

The unfurling of the championship flag will offer a timely reminder of that brilliance but in Postecoglou’s eyes it’s merely a symbolic occasion. Of course it’s a moment to cherish, of course it’s one for the 60,000 inside the ground to lap up but it doesn’t mean anything going forward.

Postecoglou doesn’t see it as a closing of a chapter before embarking on a new one. He revealed that already happened the moment he and the players stepped back into Lennoxtown at the end of June to get their preparations under way.

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Postecoglou said: “To be fair, from a football department perspective we started a clean slate on the first day of pre-season. Sunday is more of a symbolic thing for the club to celebrate last season’s achievement with our fans and acknowledge that success.

“But in realistic terms that line was drawn by us on day one of pre-season. We came back in and everyone was ready to go again looking ahead rather than back to what we did last year.”

For an opener, Celtic are going to receive a hefty test. Aberdeen may have struggled for long spells of last season under the management of Stephen Glass and then Jim Goodwin but Postecoglou’s team had to fight and scrap to get anything from the Pittodrie side.

All three wins against the Dons were secured by single-goal margins, with two successes at Pittodrie coming at crucial points of their title charge. Postecoglou said: “Last year, even though they didn’t have a great season, they gave us some tough games.

“The first game of the season everyone has a sense of optimism about them and everyone can’t wait to get started. Irrespective of who your first opponent is, you know there is going to be enthusiasm in the opposition as they want to lay down their own marker.

“It’s not about us coming back as champions or having more pressure and expectation. My goal and ambition is to make us the best team we can be and if we achieve that and become better than last year and perform at higher levels then we’ll see what comes with it.”

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The Hoops take on their penultimate pre-season match tonight over in Poland and Ange Postecoglou has opted for a strong approach in a testimonial-style match for Artur Boruc. Polish goalkeepe, Artur Boruc is set to say farewell to football during a match between his two beloved sides. The stopper spent five years at Celtic Park after joining from Legia in 2005, spending five years in Glasgow before moving to Fiorentina.

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