The 56-year-old almost allowed himself to become giddy over what is to come after a cinch Premiership title triumph so regally toasted as they were handed the cinch Premiership silverware following their final day 6-0 mauling of Motherwell.
Indeed, there was more than a twinkle in his eyes as he sought to respond soberly to whether he had thought about the fabled Champions League group-stage nights that his team top flight’s exploits will return to Celtic Park in September following a five-year absence. Before he could not help but betray his true feelings. “Not yet,” he said initially, before going on to expand: ”When the draw comes out it will become real, but it is going to be special. Everyone talks to me about Champions League nights here at Celtic Park and there is nothing like it. It will be bloody brilliant.”
The brilliance of his comprehensively recast team is inarguable with their closing fixture marking their 32nd league encounter unbeaten, the last of their three losses coming last September as they were struggling to export their incisive and effervescent brand of front-foot football. It could be argued that Postecoglou has left himself a hostage to fortune by telling a rapturous home faithful in a post-match address that his Celtic team would be “bigger and better” next season. A haul of 93 points and 92 goals sets a mighty high bar for improvement but the 56-year-old pointed to one aspect of his rebuild that gives him confidence in raising standards against next season.
“You look at 80 per cent of this squad and I’d suggest they didn’t do a pre-season,” the Celtic manager said. “They either came in after pre-season, or in the winter, or were injured. We have a lot of players like Kyogo and David Turnbull who missed big chunks of the season because we overburdened them at the start of the season. We will get natural improvement because we are at a much better starting point. The challenge then is to keep pushing the players to be better and add to the squad to make us stronger. Where we start on the first day of pre-season will be way ahead of where we were.
“There’s no secret. I tell the players that the magic out there comes from sheer hard work every day. Every day coming into training trying to be better, pushing one another and respecting everyone who you work alongside. Just sheer hard work, sweat and tears. Pushing yourself every day. It’s easy to say but doing it is the only way you can create something special.
“This group have done that — they have been committed to a cause. We’ve wanted to play a certain way and we’ve stuck to that. It has been our roadmap to success and we weren’t going to veer off it. There were some tough times, especially in Europe. We got slapped a couple of times but we didn’t change our approach. We bear the fruit now. In a game where we could have just tried to coast through it, we put six past another team and play the kind of football this club and the supporters want to see.”