It was inquired of Australian as to whether, with his team top of the table, in the last four of the cup – where they have been drawn against Rangers – and the League Cup already banked, the “t word” entering his mind.
“At the start it was all trouble, now it is all treble. That’s a terrible pun. There’s your headline,” he said with a wince. “The important thing is that we are still in the competition and at this stage of the season we have given ourselves an opportunity for success. That is the expectation here. That expectation is on me and everyone at the football club. The players need to embrace that.
“We can’t think just because we have won a trophy already that it is going to be a good season. We want to win every competition we are in and given ourselves a chance to do that. Particularly at this end of the season and we have given ourselves a chance. It should also help with the confidence.”
The semi-final draw that has paired the Glasgow title rivals gives rise to the possibility that Celtic’s season could be shaped with three derbies instead a matter of weeks. They will meet at Ibrox in the cinch Premiership on April 3, while their Scottish Cup dust-up looks likely of being scheduled for April 17. The post-split fixtures will begin the following weekend, while the desire of the SPFL to avoid one of these games being a title decider in tight campaigns has tended to see their final meeting scheduled as one of the first top six fixtures. Predictably, Postecoglou had no appetite for such a discussion point.
“Mate, they’re just games of football you need to win,” the Celtic manager said. “The most important thing is that we’re putting ourselves in a position where those games mean something. We focus on the next challenge and don’t look too far ahead. Item [the semi-final] is going to be great. It will be a cracking atmosphere. I’ve had two trips to Hampden and in both those games the atmosphere was unbelievable. I’m sure it will be a great atmosphere again for that semi-final but we’ve got a few games before that to focus on.”
Postecoglou agreed that repairing the club’s away form has been central to the upturn in fortunes enjoyed since their last domestic defeat – which came away to Livingston in mid-September and extended a winless run on the road that had begun eight months earlier. In a complete reversal, the Tannadice cup success was Celtic’s 10th game without defeat in Scotland outside of their own environments, with either of these games bringing victories.
“It’s the main factor in our form,” the Celtic manager said. “After a rocky start [with the first three away league games lost], our away form has been outstanding. We’ve been to Edinburgh four times, Aberdeen twice, Livingston twice, we’ve come here again – all tough away fixtures – and the boys have handled it really well. Away from home we’re still controlling games and trying to be the team that takes it to the opposition. We don’t take it for granted winning away from – it’s not easy away from home. Being able to handle that has probably been the most important part of our season.”
A message from the Editor: Thank you for reading this article. We’re more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers. If you haven’t already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.