Ange Postecoglou gets it spot-on as he fires a big warning to Hearts about Celtic improvement

By David Walton

January 23, 2022

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou has warned Hearts that “things have changed” since they turned over his Hoops team on opening day.

Celtic came out of Tynecastle with a 2-1 defeat to the Jambos in Postecoglou’s first Premiership game in charge of the club. It was a massive blow so early on into the manager’s reign, but it’s important to remember the context of it too.

Postecoglou was nowhere near having completed his summer work, whilst we had players playing out of position combined with major shortages in key areas. There was a long way to go in the development of the Postecoglou era and his Celtic squad.

Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images

Since then, he’s managed to overcome Robbie Neilson’s men twice at Celtic Park. And as we get set to revisit the scene of the opening-day crime on Wednesday in Edinburgh, Postecoglou is clearly expecting a massively different outcome.

As quoted by the Herald, Ange said: “I wouldn’t call it my baptism. I had already been baptised by then, we had had a couple of Champions League games. But obviously it was a disappointing start to the league season for us. We played okay and certainly did enough in the game to get a result out of it but not winning wasn’t a great way to start off our campaign. At the same time, I do remember it was in the middle of a pretty hectic period for us. 

“I think Kyogo had just arrived at lunchtime that day. He had lunch with the boys and then I put him on the bench. Carl Starfelt had only been in a couple of days and just joined us. It was a tumultuous time for us and but we were disappointed not to start the season better than we did.

Alloa Athletic 1-2 Celtic | LIVE Reaction

Alloa Athletic 1-2 Celtic | LIVE Reaction
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“Things have changed a fair bit. Back then we were still putting a team together and since we have certainly developed the squad. Since the break there, with the players we have signed, we have got a stronger squad and, more importantly, a more settled squad. I think players are a lot more settled and know how we want to play our football a lot better.”

Ange Postecoglou ready to see Celtic take the fight to Hearts

Everything Ange says here is absolutely spot on. Should we have beaten Hearts with the team we had at the time? Maybe. But it was always going to be a tough opening-day fixture. Let’s also not forget we had a perfectly legitimate goal ruled out when Liel Abada should’ve put us 2-1 ahead. That could’ve been a game-changer.

But the moral of the story is that Celtic have improved substantially under Ange over the last several months. When you compare the squad in terms of stability, depth, and quality, it’s miles beyond where it was back in August.

We had already developed to a considerable degree by the end of 2021. However, with the new signings in the door, we have even more quality to tackle our Gorgie rivals with. If you’re to compare the starting XIs between that August 31st clash and this Wednesday, things will look a whole lot different.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

We would expect a much-improved performance even with the international players gone on Wednesday night. Postecoglou now has a squad that will not be daunted by the challenge that awaits us at Tynecastle. We’re good enough to go there and win extremely comfortably.

Hearts, of course, have their own problems with the John Souttar to Rangers saga overshadowing them. Not to mention they have sold powerful striker Armand Gnanduiller and have only just welcomed back Liam Boyce and Beni Baningime. They’re unlikely to be at 100% themselves.

So all eyes on just how much of an improvement we see from Celtic this week. It’s set up to be a cracker, and the importance of it to our season simply cannot be underestimated.

In other news, Robbie Neilson’s immature December remark should have Celtic fired up for Tynecastle