Ange Postecoglou shrugs off Celtic title race pressure as he claims ‘I eat it up for breakfast, mate’

It’s an Aussie trait to be laid-back and chilled.

In sporting terms they’re certainly not renowned for crumbling under pressure. More often than not, they embrace it.

And that’s exactly what Ange Postecoglou plans to do in this tense, nail-biting Premiership title run-in.

The Celtic boss has big enough shoulders to carry the weight of expectation from supporters.

He understands and accepts it. But he refuses to let it weigh him down.

His team are just five games from becoming champions and securing a domestic double.

That feat seemed like a pipe dream when Postecoglou arrived in Glasgow from Japan last summer.

But pressure? What pressure?

Postecoglou isn’t new to intensity or high stakes. Remember, he has won titles everywhere he has been so far.

With the Australian national team he’d have felt the heat if he hadn’t led them to the 2014 World Cup.

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So rather than get anxious about his current situation, the Hoops gaffer is as relaxed as ever.

While no one has to tell him about the importance of a title win at Parkhead, he’s able to put the job he’s doing into perspective.

That’s probably why he enjoys it so much.

Ahead of today’s vital game at Ross County, Postecoglou said: “How do I deal with pressure? I eat it up for breakfast, mate.

“No, seriously I enjoy it. It’s why I love what I do. If I knew what the outcome was going to be, I wouldn’t enjoy it.

“The adrenaline of that fine line between success and failure is what excites me. We could have won the cup semi-final against Rangers at Hampden last week – it could have gone our way.

“But that’s the beauty of sports. I don’t see it as pressure. This is the bit I love.

“That probably tells you about me as a person. But I love going into a game with it all on the line.

“Potentially you could end up with something fantastic or come out of it bitterly disappointed.

“I’ve had pressure moments in my career before – but I enjoyed them. I’ve been lucky that most of them have gone my way.

“If they hadn’t I probably wouldn’t be sitting here – I wouldn’t have a career as a manager.

“What you do every day gets you into positions where there’s a lot at stake.

“If you’re lucky you end up on the positive side. And that fuels you to go again because you want that feeling.

“You want to go into another big game, with big consequences.

“And you want to win because you know how it will make you feel, along with the players, staff and supporters.

“That’s what drives me, wanting to create these moments.

“From the outside maybe people see it as pressure.

“But I just see it as an opportunity to do something special.

“You have to keep things in perspective.

“Listen, I’m under no illusions. I know that our supporters see this as very important.

“To them, it’s not just football. For the fans of this club, it’s not just about the team winning or losing.

“It’s a way of life for them so it dictates their whole week.

“We understand we have a responsibility and there are massive consequences if we’re not successful. But there are a lot of people out there who have to deal with far more difficult things than I do.

“We carry the responsibility, at the same time, of representing this club and I’m totally invested in that.”

When Postecoglou was Socceroos boss he famously quit the job after qualifying for a second World Cup in 2018.

It was a controversial, but principled, move.

He didn’t feel the Australian football federation shared his vision or ambition, so he walked.

Postecoglou also has a long-term plan for Celtic.

And no matter how this title race pans out in the next few weeks, I won’t see from it.

The difference here is that he’s convinced everyone at Parkhead is behind him.

He said: “The vision is still on track. This is just year one. We’re nowhere near where I want you to be.

“That’s only natural because we’ve had to totally rebuild our playing squad.

“Whatever we do this season, my motivation is to make us a better team next year and the one beyond that. We’ve seen a lot of improvement but many areas can still be stronger.

“What’s been important is that hopefully I’ve gained the trust from people inside and outside the club.

“When I gain that trust it gives me confidence to take us down the road I want us to go down.

“That’s in terms of the kind of team we want to be, how we want to play and the type of players we want to bring to the club.

“And it’s about the success we want to have. Hopefully the season finishes well for us.

“But regardless of what happens, I’m encouraged that we can build something special.

“Everyone is on the same page here and I’ve felt that since I got here. That’s always the most important factor, the people.

“If I’m working with the right people it gives me the best opportunity to bring success to Celtic.

“I’m happy in the role, I’ve enjoyed this season. It’s been a hell of a journey and challenge.

“I want us to finish strongly but I’ve got real encouragement that we can build something special together.”

The job in hand, though, is at Dingwall today, with Ross County on a good run of form.

To maintain their strong lead at the top of the table, the Hoops must bounce back from last weekend’s Scottish Cup semi-final defeat to Rangers.

And that’s where Postecoglou has so far excelled as a manager.

He said: “Even the best suffer blows. You learn about the best boxers by how they take a punch, not how many they throw.

“We’ve had some setbacks this year and reacted well to them.

“Everyone will stumble at some point and lose a game of football.

“I’ve always tried to maintain an even keel, win or lose.

“My role is to try to steer us through the good and the bad. I need to stay calm.

“We’re in a strong position. If we perform at the level we’ve been at in the league we’ll get three points.

“If we get them we’ll be a step closer to achieving something special.”

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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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