Ange Postecoglou's fascinating insight into the mentality change needed at Celtic

By Euan Davidson

November 24, 2021

Ange Postecoglou says his Celtic players need to show self-belief and confidence in their plan – especially if they concede against Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League tomorrow night.

Speaking ahead of the game, Postecoglou was keen to point out how talented these Celtic players are. But, they need to show commitment to the tactics, even when things aren’t going well.

Since the last Leverkusen meeting, Celtic have responded much better to adversity. That was a concern from the first two Europa League games; after goals were conceded, the Hoops crumbled under the lights.

Photo by Jan Kruger – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

Now, though, Celtic seem a much more confident outfit, on the ball and off it. Ahead of the game, Celtic boss Postecoglou said [Celtic FC]:

“It’s not just about sort of, I’m not talking about people slipping over, or making a bad pass or mis-controlling the ball. I’m talking about how you react to those things, because those things are going to happen.

“Even conceding a goal, how you react to that. We didn’t react well to that [against Leverkusen]. We conceded a goal, it’s 1-0 but we were well in the game at that time. But we lost our composure.

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“It’s not about eradicating individual errors, because they’re human beings. They’re going to make mistakes tomorrow night. It’s how you immediately react to the mistake that happens, and what you do consequently.

“It felt like we lost our composure at times, because we just let the errors or the goals compound into everything else we were doing. So from that perspective we can help the players, by showing them you’re in the game.

“What you need to do is concentrate and make sure that you’re focused every minute. Rather than thinking “ah well, we’ve just conceded a goal, and somehow the task has become insurmountable.””

Postecoglou and Celtic have biggest Europa League test yet, against a strong Bayer Leverkusen

Nobody at Celtic needs reminding of how clinical Bayer Leverkusen can be. They’re a top team, with some excellent players. There’s no question that they’re the most talented squad we’ve come up against under Ange Postecoglou.

That said, Celtic were still very much in the game before Leverkusen fully took control. The Bhoys created chances from the off; Lukas Hradecky had a fine game in the Leverkusen goal. More to the point, though, Postecoglou saw his players lose their confidence on the Paradise turf.

That hasn’t happened since. If anything, that game proved to be an excellent learning experience, for both players and the manager.

Ange Postecoglou in festive mood / (Photo via Celtic FC)

When Celtic have conceded (albeit, not often), they look far more prepared to take over again. Ferencvaros tried and failed to rein us in. Dundee had a go at bloodying our noses, they were beaten.

That relentlessness is crucial. He’s right, players are going to make mistakes. Inevitably, we will concede goals. It’s the reaction that counts, and since our first game against Leverkusen, that reaction has improved tenfold.

Read more: Celtic player who cost Ange badly in July now seriously impressing him