Ange Postecoglou sends a Celtic warning to Premiership rivals as he says star man Reo Hatate isn’t even fit yet

Ange Postecoglou admitted Celtic’s spectacular success over Rangers was one of the most-special nights of his career.

But the Parkhead boss made it crystal clear that nothing has been won in terms of the title.

And Postecoglou has also insisted his down-to-earth troops are focused on getting even better as they strive for glory.

Two Reo Hatate goals and a Liel Abada strike launched the Aussie’s troops to the top of the Scottish Premiership for the first time this season.

In front of a rocking Celtic Park, Postecoglou’s side blew apart their winless run of over two years against their rivals with a sizzling first-half demolition.

The gaffer savored every second and said: “I have been pretty lucky, I have had some special experiences in my football career and this was right up there.

“From the moment we walked out, the wall of noise, the energy in the stadium was just outstanding.

“Form my perspective, the anxiety grows because I wanted to repay that. I wanted the players to repay that and they fed off the energy in the right way. They rose to the occasion.”

But Postecoglou is adamant no-one will rest on laurels or consider mental blows have been struck as he continued: “I don’t buy the psychological stuff.

“Our end goal is to play football a certain way and to win things and we haven’t done that.

“I know what the players are like, they will do their recovery and then come back in on Friday and demand more of me and of anyone to get better.

“We want to improve and we will have to, to be the football team we want to be. We are still missing some key players.

“Being in top spot is a sign of our progression, absolutely, because we lost three of the first five or six so we know how the Scottish Premiership works.

“We had to be almost perfect to get to where we are now. We have been under pressure for a long time, but it’s testament to the players’ character and the spirit they’ve got that they haven’t let that affect them.

“They haven’t looked at the table and the points and they won’t know.”

Postecoglou had heroes in every department. Hatate struck twice on just his third appearance for the club and captain Callum McGregor bravely played wearing a mask to protect a facial injury sustained 12 days ago.

The manager said: “I am being asked about all the players. No-one has exceeded my expectations.

“I don’t want to single anyone out because I thought it was an unbelievable effort from the whole group.

“Reo is not fit enough yet, he has a lot of work to do and still has improvement to do, but I knew what I was getting he is a quality player.

“He showed his temperament as well because on the big occasion when he needed to have the quality. But he wasn’t the only one, led by Callum who was outstanding again.

“The fact he even played, he is the kind of leader people follow. It is a credit to him, he never ruled himself out from the first day, he knew how important this game was.

“He said I am going to play, I am fine, no problems. A lot of players wouldn’t have.

“You are talking about Liel, 20 years old, and Hatate playing his third or fourth game.

“We were so dominant first half it’s only natural we would tire. Guys like Reo, Matt [O’Riley], [Giorgos] Giakoumakis are not yet at the fitness levels, so it’s only natural that we drop off.

“But when we’ve needed to this year we have defended really well. I thought the back four was outstanding, Josip Juranovic was incredible. The whole team worked hard.”

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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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