Ange Postecoglou ready for Rangers tweaks as Celtic boss backs his stars to find another way

Ange Postecoglou isn’t hiding the significance of Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final against Rangers from his pumped-up Celtic team.

The Parkhead manager is fully aware there will be no second chances at Hampden.

But Postecoglou reckons his players don’t need to be told and will savor the magnitude of the last-four showdown.

The Aussie’s side went into the clash at the National Stadium with their tails up after a fantastic run of recent form. In extending an unbeaten domestic record to 33 matches, Celtic have one hand on the Premiership trophy with a Premier Sports Cup already in the cabinet.

Sunday offers a huge opportunity to push further in the quest for a treble and Postecoglou doesn’t need anyone to remind him what it means.

Nor does he feel his players require any words to that effect as he said: “It’s a cup semi-final so there’s meaning on the end of it. There’s consequences on the end of it.

“Every cup game you play, if you want to progress you’ve got to perform on the day and you’ve got to get the job done on the day.

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“There’s no second chances and particularly in the semi-final it’s going to be a tough game. It’s going to be an unbelievable atmosphere and you know the players know the occasion.

“I don’t have to disguise or dress it up in any other way that it’s going to be a massive game with massive consequences and it’s exactly where we want to be.”

Postecoglou’s team were red hot in last weekend’s 7-0 thrashing of St Johnstone which backed up an Old Firm win at Ibrox and tightened their grip on the title.

While Rangers face a Europa League quarter-final against Braga tomorrow night, the Parkhead players have an uninterrupted week of training preparation to take to the National Stadium tie.

Postecoglou is making best use of the Lennoxtown time and said: “Look, it’s a benefit because we’ll use it that way.

“You know, it depends on what you’re doing those days. For us it’s not about, we’ve got a week so we can sort of relax.

“It’s a week where we can put solid work into the players. Now if we had a game that would still work the same way.

“Our battle at the start of the year was that we didn’t have a robust and strong enough squad to cope sometimes with three games in a week and keep levels up.

“With the squad we’ve got now I’d be confident if we had midweek games, it wouldn’t affect our performance on the weekend.

“But having a full week just allows us to really work hard with the boys and prepare and play our football. Because we’ve got that extra time we’re going to use it.”

Celtic produced arguably their best performance of the Postecoglou reign against Saints and confidence is high for Hampden.

Speaking on Celtic TV, the boss added: “You feel satisfaction that we played a really good game of football. From start to finish there are a lot of things we want to try and achieve every week.

“Sometimes some things work, others don’t. But it all came together really well.

“Coming off a big game the week before, people are always looking for what kind of reaction in terms of the team and the way we set up, but the boys were at it from the first minute.

“I can understand people asking me that question because they go from game to game but they’re not here every day.

“I see how the players are training and how they’re preparing, how focused they are. I knew that the previous result had been put to bed and they were looking forward to the next contest and the
nextgame. I think they responded accordingly.

“There were some really good team goals in there, stuff that we constantly try to reinforce with the players and contributions from everybody.

“From the fans’ point of view they saw a team that is committed to playing the game a certain way and irrespective of the scoreline or the situation they’ll continue to do that. They appreciate it.

Celtic’s Cameron Carter-Vickers celebrates scoring against Rangers

“That’s kind of the end goal. You’re doing things for a reason and that reason is to kind of create a foundation for playing the game a certain way.

“That’s a goal where we kept the ball for quite a while and kept the opposition moving. There have been other times we’ve been more direct and counter-attacked.

“So it’s not about one type of how we’re going to play.

“It’s within the foundation we’ve created that if the opposition are going to sit off us and give us time and move the ball around, then we can wait for our opportunity to score.

“If they come and press us we’ll find a more direct way.

“But I guess as the players get more and more comfortable you can see that they’re creating their own sort of ways of overcoming the opposition.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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