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Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou to ignore ‘a million theories’ over Bodo/Glimt loss and go with gut instinct

THE post-mortems which are carried out in the wake of defeats like the one that Celtic suffered at the hands of Bodo/Glimt in the first leg of the Conference League knockout round play-off can, as Ange Postecoglou says, throw up “a million different theories”.

Yet, the Greek-Australian coach, whose team crashed to a painful 3-1 loss at the hands of the Norwegian champions at Parkhead on Thursday night, feels no need to pore over footage of the encounter to figure out why his men were beaten so heavily.

For Postecoglou the reason is quite simple; the visitors converted their scoring chances and his team did not.

The Celtic manager, whose charges had netted 24 times during their nine game winning run before the Bodo match, will certainly need to determine why his men failed to show their usual ruthlessness in attack in the coming days and make changes which ensure they are more composed and creative up front next week.

If they are as toothless again at a difficult venue where Roma were thrashed 6-1 in the group stages back in October they will lose and suffer an ignominious exit from the new competition.

Reviewing his team selection and starting Reo Hatate on the artificial pitch in the Aspmyra Stadium on could make a real difference. He went with Matt O’Riley and Tom Rogic alongside Callum McGregor at Parkhead and his midfield failed to function and provide lone striker Daizen Maeda with the service he required.

Maeda netted a sublime glancing header with 11 minutes remaining after getting on the end of a Josip Juranovic cross. But it was too little too late.  

Postecoglou, though, will not fall into the trap of overthinking matters. He is confident that if the Glasgow club are their usual selves going forward they can come from behind and book their place in the last 16 against all the odds.

“You can look for a million different theories about why we didn’t win on Thursday night,” he said. “My gut tells me that it comes down to this – if you are really clinical in the front third you can win on any given day and if you are not you can lose on any given day.

“That is what happened to us on Thursday. It wasn’t so much about our performance, it is about what happened in the two boxes. They were super clinical, we weren’t. When that happens in football you pay the price because goals are like gold dust in our game. They are the hardest thing to do.

“They were really clinical with their chances and we weren’t. To be fair to us, we have scored a lot of goals this season. We are usually really good in that area, but on Thursday night they weren’t.

“There are no away goals so we will look to bring a good performance, score our goals. I think people have seen enough of this team to know we are not going to go over there and lie down. We will go there and have a go.”

Postecoglou will be looking for a positive reaction to the reverse before that in the cinch Premiership meeting with Dundee – who will have their new manager Mark McGhee in charge for the first time – in the East End of Glasgow tomorrow afternoon. 

But he could resist the temptation to make wholesale changes to his starting line-up even though he now – after another busy transfer window which saw Hatate, Yosuke Ideguchi and Maeda arrive along with Matt O’Riley last month – has an abundance of options in his squad.

He believes that his men taking to the field with the right mindset is just as important as freshening up his team and may persevere with those who failed to perform on Thursday night in the hope that he sees the right response.   

Asked how much he will change his side for the meeting with Dundee, he said: “It depends. The most important thing is we get the team right for Sunday and then we’ll have a look at Thursday.

“Look, we’ll prepare the same way we always have, give them the feedback they need and the rest is up to them, as it has been all along. So far this season they’ve shown they’re a really resilient group of players. I expect to see that on Sunday.

“We have got more depth in the squad to be able to maintain the levels, but, at the same time, from our perspective you could have 1,000 players. It’s about what the players do when they’re out there.

“We got through the first half of the season because the squad was really resilient. Some had to play with injuries, but we still maintained our levels. Just because we got extra players I don’t want people to think that they’re comfortable.

“I’m hoping a few of them don’t want to get rotated, I’m hoping a few of them want to keep playing and get disappointed when we leave them out. That’s the kind of attitude we need.”

Postecoglou added: “It’s just another challenge for us. Football always has a way of making sure we keep it really focused one way or another and the result on Thursday gives us an opportunity to show how we respond to that.

“The first chance is on Sunday. Dundee have made a change, but their last results haven’t been bad (the Dens Park club have beaten Hearts and Peterhead away in the Premiership and Scottish Cup respectively). We’ve got to show in the same way we’ve reacted positively before that we react positively to this.”

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