Ange shoots down Celtic and Rangers to Premier League chat as he points to Bayern Munich for ‘competition’ reminder

Ange Postecoglou reckons you can dig the popcorn out and tune into pundits such as Craig Levein talking about the Old Firm heading to England.

But the Celtic boss is finding it hard to understand what kind of show would be left if the game’s two biggest stars exited stage left. Postecoglou doesn’t tend to get too worked up when it comes to this country’s hot takes of the week. He leaves the bigger picture debates to others and he’s certainly not getting worked up by the former Hearts and Scotland boss suggesting Scottish football could benefit from Celtic and Rangers upping sticks for the EPL.

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Postecoglou doesn’t support the idea. He’s rather the clubs below the Glasgow giants aimed for the stars – rather than wishing they would shoot the craw. Levein sparked the conversation with his comments to Record Sport in the wake of Celtic’s stroll at Tynecastle last weekend. It was the kind of result and performance that occasionally kicks off a period of agonising self-reflection in these parts. A Scottish Cup tie between the best side in the nation against the outfit recognised as the third force should be more of a contest. The fact it was a breeze sent a chill down some spines but Postecoglou reckons it caused a few knees to jerk as well.

When asked about the lack of competition, he said: “Hmm… How many championships have Bayern Munich got in a row at the moment? Forever and a day there will be opinions on the game.

“It is good theatre, great to grab your bucket of popcorn and listen to it, but it’s not in my radar at the moment. I’m not in that head space, I know what you are saying but people are just so in the moment.

“When was the last time Rangers and Celtic met in Scottish Cup final? 2002, that tells you something, all this stuff is in the moment because we happen to be dominating the competition.

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“Whether it is one team or another, or two teams, it is always the case now. In terms of the broader discussion around Scottish football, if the suggestion is that the best way to improve is to take away the highest standard you have within the game, then I don’t believe that. If you want to raise the standards then you try and attain the highest standard that already exists.

“So try and build teams up to that rather than give everyone a lower bar. Mate, I lived in Australia where there is a salary cap, where there is equalisation and, let me tell you, there is no one in Scotland that would enjoy that walk for one second.”

Postecoglou also knows what it’s like to be on the other side. He led unfancied Yokohama F Marinos to their first J League crown in 15 years when he was in the Far East when his budget was in the bottom half in the division.

He knows Scottish football is even more skewered but the principle is the same. Postecoglou said: “I’m not saying it is easy to do. In many cases it is a really jump. But you are either aspirational or not.

“If you want something to improve, you don’t bring it to its lowest common denominator. You’re not really achieving anything with that, people in this country are really passionate about their football, really passionate about their football clubs, I get that.

“It is only three years ago that St Johnstone won two cups. You can take the broader view, and kinda see things in the full calmness of the day, or just just go with the hot topic of the day and go all in as one.

“My underlying feeling – and this is not just about Scottish football or football in general but life – I think it is always better to be aspirational than any other way.”

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Perhaps it’s understandable Postecoglou is enjoying the Scottish game when his side are making mincemeat of rivals. The Hoops host Hibs today and are looking to maintain their 100 percent home record, with the kind of points and goals tally not seen since before the Second World War kicked off.

Manager Ange Posetcoglou
Manager Ange Posetcoglou (Image: SNS Group)

But Postecoglou said: “All these stats are things for guys like yourself to trawl through historical records. All those aspects are references points to set out once a season is done and dusted, we are right in the middle of it, obviously we have been in good form for a long time.

“Since the moment I arrived, I’ve been really strong on us having compelling home form. When you play in front of your own supporters at you home stadium it is important that you really are consistent, and dominating in your performances because I think it is your chance in front of your supporters at your home ground to set down a marker.

“I think we’ve done that since I arrived and it’s been a big part of our overall way of being. If teams are going to visit Celtic Park we want to make sure it is an uncomfortable day for them.”

Postecoglou isn’t bothered about stats but he is in the entertainment business. He said: “Yeah, even more so at this club. As you probably know it is a club that prioritises and emphasises the method of result.

“There is a demand of every team that represents them to be exciting as well as effective in terms of their results. We have tried to be a team that entertains as well as wins games of football. Obviously the result is paramount but the manner we go about it is also important.

“There is no greater feeling having such fantastic support through that. Practically every game at Celtic Park is a sell out and to reward them with performances as well as results is special and something we strive to do.”

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