Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou praises young defenders after "frustrating" result

By Euan Davidson

July 20, 2021

Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou has praised his team’s reaction to Nir Bitton’s sending off against FC Midtjylland.

The Bhoys manager was denied a win on his competitive Celtic debut, with Evander scoring direct from a free-kick in the second half. It wasn’t entirely deserved. Before then, Nir Bitton saw a second yellow for poking Anders Dreyer in the face.

Dreyer was himself sent off for simulation, with his second booking of the night.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland, Postecoglou reflected on the game. He said [BBC Radio Scotland]:

“I thought it was a tremendous effort by the players. We controlled the game well in the first half, got our goal, created a couple of chances before that. Limited them to hardly anything. Then obviously, Bitton gets a sending off, then we’re down to 10 men for a significant amount of time.

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“Even then we held out well, we were still nice and compact, still created chances. Disappointing result, frustrating result, but in terms of performance I was more than happy with the players.

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“Players don’t let me down. [Bitton had] already been booked, you’ve got to be really careful. It’s disappointing for him, I think he’s the most disappointed out of anyone, because I know how much he wanted to contribute to today.

“The important thing for me was the reaction of the players. I thought it was a superb reaction. Young Dane Murray and Stephen Welsh, two very young centre halves in a Champions League fixture… I thought were outstanding.

Celtic boss Postecoglou finds room for improvement after “disappointing result”

Ange Postecoglou then identified a problem area for Celtic. While set-pieces remain an Achilles Heel, Postecoglou set it out simply: stop conceding needless fouls.

Postecoglou told Radio Scotland:

“I thought tonight, if there was one area to improve, we gave away some unnecessary fouls when we had the opposition in decent areas, where we didn’t really have to overcommit.

“They probably had two strikes on goal, so I thought defensively they did a decent job.”

Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images

Without wishing to endorse some kind of Cult of Personality around Ange Postecoglou, a draw was an unfair result on him.

The work being done at training has clearly worked, for the most part. FC Midtjylland represent a tough opponent, one we would rightly have feared coming into tonight’s game.

But nobody told the players that, least of all Ange Postecoglou. His side were set up bravely, with wide centre backs, underlapping inverted full-backs and constant pressure on the ball. Foremost, we were entertaining, and had a right good go.

Reintroducing Christie from the cold, as well as handing a debut to Liel Abada, was a master-stroke. Ange deserved better from this game than the result he got.

Still, it’s a very promising foundation. Play against domestic opposition like this, and… who knows?

READ MORE: Carl Starfelt shares photo of him watching Celtic game on Instagram