Ange Postecoglou basks in Celtic home comforts as high five becomes strong possibility

There are little benchmarks Ange Postecoglou will seek to imprint his rejuvenation of Celtic.

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou acknowledges the club's home run has come with "advantages", but he stresses it is their displays that have made these count for them. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou acknowledges the club's home run has come with "advantages", but he stresses it is their displays that have made these count for them. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

The visit of St Mirren can certainly occasion one of these, as the final game in a run that has allowed them to stay home for five straight outings. If his team can carve out another victory – to follow on from seeing off, in style, AZ Alkmaar, Hearts, FK Jablonec and Dundee on their own patch – it will be a wee win of a different variety for the Australian. At no point across the club’s cataclysmic campaign of 2020-21 did they rack up five straight successes at Parkhead.

You have to go back to the end of 2019 for such a quintet. Then they actually strung together no fewer than 15 consecutive wins, the longest such home run for almost two decades. It was form that underpinned a scintillating campaign the club’s own fans have deliberately expunged from their memory banks in order to lay waste to Neil Lennon for his second spell.

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Postecoglou would fare entirely differently were he to preside over similar. The extensive home run coming as the arena has resounded to full-scale crowds again has been suggested as having provided the 55-year-old with good fortune to achieve lift off across his early days at the Celtic helm. Yet, there is another side to that simplistic reading of the situation he considers it important not to overlook.

St Mirren manager Jim Goodwin has tested positive for Covid-19 and will miss the weekend clash with Celtic (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

“Any club will tell you having home games is an advantage,” Postecoglou said. “For us, it’s coincided with our fans being back in the stadium, and it’s worked out really well for us. It’s easy to say that now, but with having fans back in, if we didn’t start well, it maybe wouldn’t have been as pleasant to play in games at the moment. But because the players have really started well and the team is playing well, the fans are enjoying the football. It’s great to have this run of home games where we can just build some momentum. We’re going to hit the road after this game [in playing Alkmaar and Rangers away], and that will provide a different kind of challenge. But it’s certainly been helpful to have this run of home games and helpful for us to have our supporters behind us.”

The Celtic manager has tinkered minimally with his team across an unrelenting schedule that he has acknowledged led to players being out on their feet at the end of their 2-0 first leg Europa League play-off success over Alkmaar. It may be then that he chooses to mix it up against the Paisley club ahead of Celtic two pivotal encounters next week.

“It was a pretty punishing game against AZ but everyone has come though OK,” he said. “I’m sure there’s a few who are still a bit sore so I’ll leave my starting line up until the day of the game. Ryan Christie has trained the last couple of days, so he’s available. We’ll probably make one or two changes but we’ll wait and see. James McCarthy is getting closer. We’re trying to get him some game time. It’s difficult, particularly in his position, when you are coming on in games, and it’s sometimes frenetic, like Wednesday. He doesn’t have time to work his way in. But he’s definitely getting closer.”

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