To Ange Postecoglou, it is his sustenance. If the Celtic manager is supposed to be feeling queasy over the potential for his side wobbling in the title race following their Scottish Cup stumble, the memo has been missed. A first defeat in 34 domestic matches in the semi-final against Rangers at Hampden last Sunday ended the club’s hopes of a treble. Potential repercussions have been talked up beyond those immediate consequences. In the form of a possible form slide to be fearful over. Postecoglou, though, would appear to love to feast on such questioning.
The beauty of his trade for him is the demand to demonstrate he has cooked up a team capable of dealing with dicey situations. The club’s Dingwall trip to face a Ross County they required a 96th-minute winner to overcome there in December has been presented as offering food for thought to the cinch Premiership leaders. At least by those believing there is still something for the Ibrox men in this title race. With Celtic holding a six point gap and 19 goal difference advantage over Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men going into the post-split fixtures, genuine uncertainty over where the league crown is headed feels slightly confected. That situation would change were Celtic not to win the Highlands before Rangers pitch up in Glasgow’s east end next weekend. It is a possible turn of events hardly causing the 56-year-old to lose his appetite.
“I eat it up for breakfast, mate. No, seriously, I enjoy it,” he said of dealing with any pressure. “It’s why I love what I do. If you know what the outcome’s going to be, I wouldn’t enjoy what I do. The adrenaline of that fine line between success and failure is what excites me. We could have won 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 enjoy that.”
In winning grand finals to claim titles with Brisbane Roar and South Melbourne, and taking Australia to the 2018 World Cup finals with an edgy play-off success over Syria, Postecoglou has tread on the right side of that fine line often. “Those were great moments but I enjoyed them,” he said. “I’ve been lucky that most of those moments have gone my way. If they hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here – I wouldn’t have a career. What you do on a daily basis gets you into positions where it’s a big game with a lot at stake. If you’re lucky you end up on the positive side of it. And that then fuels you to go again because you want that feeling again. You want to go into another big game, with big consequences. You want to win it because you know how it will make you feel, along with the players, the staff and, most importantly, the supporters. That’s what drives me, wanting to create these moments.”
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