The Ange Postecoglou Celtic comments that have just been fully vindicated
Cast your mind back as far as this morning, and Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou was backing his defenders to shine despite an unfair reputation.
Far as European football goes, yes; Celtic have been far from robust at the back. Results against Bayer Leverkusen and Real Betis provide ample, unfortunate evidence of that. But in the league?
It’s a very different story.
Postecoglou, sounding somewhat irked, described the overall steadiness of his defence [Herald]. Despite several moving parts over the course of this half-season, Celtic held the best defensive record in the Scottish Premiership as they headed East to Tannadice.
That remained the case at full-time. As if it were needed, his comments have been vindicated. Celtic barely allowed Dundee United so much as a glance at the goal.
Dundee United, according to Fotmob, had an xG of just 0.24. No clear-cut chances created, a third of the number of passes Celtic made. They got absolutely nothing from Celtic today.
Starfelt, often criticised this season, was on it once again. Following up on a dynamic defensive display against Hearts, the Swede was winning everything. Carter-Vickers, who missed Thursday night, was his typically assured self, while Greg Taylor and Josip Juranovic had license to focus on attacking.
So when can we drop the narrative that Celtic are useless at the back?
Ange Postecoglou has built a Celtic defence fit for any domestic challenge
Obviously, there have been bumps along the way. Losses to Rangers, Hearts and Livingston had fans asking questions, and rightly so. Some of the frailties that existed last season remained early on this season.
In Europe, Celtic are lacking that bit of calm and resilience they’ve found in domestic competition. Call it a free go, a learning experience. Certainly, a lot of learning has been done by the Celtic defence.
A consecutive clean sheet won’t get Ange Postecoglou jumping up and down, but his Celtic team are finding the confidence to see out games. Today, that wasn’t necessarily required, but the job his side did on Dundee United today had to have been incredibly frustrating for the Terriers.
There were sceptics about Postecoglou’s approach. From the start, he talked about defending as a unit. That can be hard to introduce, and you need the right players for it.
Luckily, it seems we have them. A relentless pressing effort for 90 minutes means Celtic can dominate teams with such ease that there’s nothing coming the opposite direction.
Long may it continue. Let’s hope it’s just one of several times our boss is proven right.