The 5-1 aggregate defeat that has befallen them as a result of the 2-0 reverse in the Arctic Circle second leg of their Conference League last 16 play-off represents the club’s biggest margin of loss in a knock-out tie to a team outside the big five leagues in almost 60 years contesting cross-border competition. An outcome that appeared inevitable following their 3-1 home loss the previous week, Postecoglou maintained they did come anywhere near the standards even in losing 4-0 at home to Bayer Leverkusen in their unsuccessful Europa League group campaign, which followed on from being dumped out of the Champions League qualifying stage by Midtylland before he had the opportunity to comprehensively remould his squad.
“We have performed in Europe, but we haven’t done it in these two games,” he said, with reference to the displays, and wins, in a tough Europa League section containing Real Betis and Ferencvaros. “[But the Bodo/Glimt games] have been our least effective two performances in Europe – including when we got beat 4-0 with Leverkusen. Our levels weren’t where they should be over these two games, and Bodo/Glimt deservedly go through.
“I expect to go further in every competition we play and that is the nature of this football club. Obviously this year for us Europe was a bit beyond us in terms of the levels we need to get to. That’s disappointing and it is my responsibility to make sure we improve and do better.”
Celtic captain Callum McGregor also accepted his team had fallen well short, but insisted it wasn’t a case of seeing the Norwegian trip as a mission impossible following the 3-1 first leg loss. Or that their mindset may have been impacted by the fact that this season the league race, which sees them hold a three-point advantage over Rangers at the top of the cinch Premiership, takes precedence in the eyes of most affiliated to the club. On that score McGregor, now believes their impoverished showings against Bodo/Glimt have put themselves “under pressure” for their return to league duty, which will see them face Hibs at Easter Road on Sunday.
“That’s the trap people maybe want us to fall into but I think as professionals you have a never-say-die attitude, and never know when you are beat,” he said. “You want to do well in all these competitions. And we want to try and win everything we are in. Whether you are good enough at this level, that is a completely different thing. The mentality is there, the want is there, and the most disappointing thing is that we didn’t show our quality over the two legs as we previously have done throughout the season. That is not to say we didn’t want to get through in the competition, or whatever. We try to approach every single game the same, we want to win every game. All this does is put more pressure on us for Sunday. People want us to react on Sunday and that’s what we have to do.”
Celtic suffer near 60-year low in Bodo/Glimt – Ange Postecoglou’s big decision, …
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.