Ange Postecoglou's Celtic philosophy about to face its biggest test

By David Walton

August 23, 2021

Ange Postecoglou has made his Celtic philosophy perfectly clear.

He wants the Hoops to play quick, aggressive, attacking football backed with a high press and an ability to go for goals for the full 90 minutes [Daily Record].

So far, Postecoglou hasn’t flinched with the challenges he’s faced. He’s come up against the likes of FC Midtjylland and AZ Alkmaar, but still the philosophy has remained the same. Celtic have gone for broke against both. In the former we were punished whilst in the latter we got our rewards.

The manager has made it clear he doesn’t disregard the defence. Celtic don’t setup to concede chances. But giving the opposition more space on the counter is a necessary evil in Postecoglou’s quest for his total football style inspired by Dutch icon Johan Cruyff [Daily Record].

However, it’s fair to say that his attachment to that admirable philosophy is going to be put to its biggest test over the next 7 days.

Celtic travel to Alkmaar for the second leg of their Europa League playoff clash in the Netherlands on Thursday night. Postecoglou has already confirmed that he’ll look to go at Alkmaar and take the game to them on the night.

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Three days later, we’ll pitch up at Ibrox at a venue we’ve lost our previous three matches at. Still, David Turnbull has stated that Celtic will play the exact same high-intensity way they have done since the season began.

But all of that is just words. It’s fine to talk about what you’re going to do in a certain match. It’s another thing to carry it out. Only when the whistles blow in Alkmaar and Govan will we truly see Celtic’s approach to both matches.

Celtic have an exciting philosophy going, but how will it look in practice this week?

Cynics would say it would be unwise to open up, especially against AZ. We already have a 2-0 lead, so naturally trying to protect whilst looking to hit on the counter would be wise. Postecoglou is insistent that won’t be the case, but time will tell if that’s the case.

From a fan’s perspective, it would be extremely intriguing to see what that style of football looked like against solid European opposition away from home. Whether it can actually be pulled off with success, or whether we’ll be far too exposed at the back.

The new Celtic manager has come across as a manager more fixated with performances than early results. He could even be willing to sacrifice Europa League football if it means getting his side some experience of playing his way against good Euro opposition.

Photo by ANP Sport via Getty Images

The same goes for at Ibrox, where Rangers’ biggest threats are down the wide areas. Will we overly-commit the way we have done against other sides in a bid to overwhelm them? Will that lead to more trouble than we would like on the counter? There are so many questions to be asked about how both of these fixtures will pan out.

Celtic are telling everyone that the philosophy remains the same. We go after both irrespective of their forward lines. That the best form of defence is offence and that allowing them to come onto us gives them a level of control and advantage on the game.

But seeing that in practice against good sides away from Parkhead is going to be absolutely fascinating. Time will tell whether it will come off, but it’s going to be a major test of Postecoglou’s philosophy even this early on.

In other news, St Mirren goalkeeper left mightily impressed with “relentless” Celtic