That’s precisely why the Celtic manager knows that winning titles isn’t about slipping into the saddle and holding on amidst the buckerooing. It is about tightening the grip as it reaches a crescendo.
The league championship that the Australian claimed for previous club Yokohama F Marinos in 2019 was the product of the club winning their final seven games to clinch it on the last day. His title successes with Brisbane Roar and South Melbourne earlier in his career required his team to peak in the closing weeks with these honors settled in play-off finals. If Postecoglou appears sanguine then about the possibility of any wobbles by his Celtic team in the aftermath of their Scottish Cup semi-final loss to Rangers last weekend, such past experiences could serve as explanation. Postecoglou maintains he hasn’t been the beneficiary of good fortune in his teams tending to finish league campaigns firmly on the up. Instead, he considers such conclusions to have been manifestations of his methods of him; prize progress delivered through planning for it.
Five post-split games stand between Celtic and the cinch Premiership title, starting with their trip to the Highlands to face Ross County on Sunday. A six-point advantage over a Rangers side they will host next weekend means the club’s tenth title in 11 years effectively could only be two wins away. Postecoglou is of the mind that his team could require to win four of their last five. And he is comfortable with matters being in their hands from him and requiring them not to falter.
“I’ve tried wherever I’ve been to create programs and environments where you play your best football at the end of the year,” said the 56-year-old. “That doesn’t mean you start slowly but whatever your starting point is, you should be finishing strong. I’ve said a few times, that’s because of my experience in Australian football where the winner is decided by a Grand Final at the end of the year – after a final series. So there was no point in finishing first [in regular season] then stumbling your way through the finals as you wouldn’t end up champions. I think all my teams have played their best football come the end of the season and I think that’s why I’ve had success.
“That’s how we’ve hopefully designed it here and hopefully that’s what happens. It’s not guaranteed obviously but again, when I talk about the mindset and being resilient, we build that through the year. We’re constantly creating those kind of pressurized situations for the players on a daily basis. So that when we get to this final part, it’s nothing new for them as they’ve embraced it all along. Hopefully we’ll finish the season strong.”
An unequivocal “totally” was the Celtic managers response to the suggestion that the outcome of the cinch Premiership is all about what his team do from here on in.
“We’re five games out, we know that four wins gets us the trophy so we don’t have to worry about anything else and we haven’t worried about anything else,” he said. “Again, the key to all that is to get three points on the weekend. Because if you look beyond that, you can trip over yourself. We know if we get a win on the weekend, play well and put in a strong performance against a tough opponent, that means for the last four games we know exactly what our goal is.”