Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou discusses football style - 'no right and wrong way to play the game, mate'
North of the Border, Airdrie once fitted the ‘hard to beat’ category, which is often a polite way of saying dirty, rotten you-know-whats. More recently, Motherwell, pre-Steven Hammell, were, rightly or wrongly, given the tag. And then there’s Livingston. No one likes going to play at Livingston. Few enjoy hosting them either, as Rangers discovered again seven days ago.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side required a John Lundstram equaliser deep into injury time to take even a point from their clash at Ibrox, despite delivering 73 crosses into the box. The assumption was that Livingston simply sat back and headed everything away after taking an early lead through Joel Nouble. As manager David Martindale said in a recent interview with website The Athletic: “People say we are purely a long ball team full of big guys, even after four years in the Premiership. Let them have that perception and keep filling their team with big men to match us."
Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou might like high tempo football but he does not come across as an aesthete. He's a football man, not a football snob. As it stands, Celtic’s record at the Tony Macaroni Arena under him is played two, lost one and won one. He knows he is not in any position to cast judgment prior to Sunday’s return to West Lothian and nor would he want to.
“There’s no right and wrong way to play the game, mate,” he said. “I think people sell Livingston short if they think they are one dimensional. They work awfully hard, but that’s the basis of every football team. It’s the basis of our team. It doesn’t matter where they are on the ladder or what style they play. Yeah, the styles between the sides might be a bit different. But both teams pride themselves on their hard work. From our perspective, we need to match it.”
Postecoglou was under a degree of pressure when Celtic lost 1-0 at Livingston last season. It was only September but having already lost at Hearts and against Rangers, there was some scepticism among the Celtic support. By the time Postecoglou's side called in at Livingston again later in the season, and won 3-1, they were on the title run in.
“It’s always going to be a challenge there,” said Postecoglou. “I don’t think the challenge changes regardless of the result in March. "Obviously we went there and lost the first one there earlier in the season. We embraced the challenge in the return encounter. I think it was a really strong performance on the day. That’s what we are looking for again this weekend.”
Summer signing Sead Haksabanovic looks set to start his seventh match in a row after establishing himself as a first-choice in the Celtic team. The forward has already been warned about the challenge facing them at Livingston. "They [his team-mates] have told me a little about it," he said. "And they said it is tough going there and playing there, but every game is tough in this league and in the Champions League so it is like they say: ‘no easy games’.”
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