Ange Postecoglou explains jumper and tie gesture and has say on David Turnbull red card after 4-1 win over St Johnstone
And there was no way the Australian had any intentions of losing his white-pressed chemise as he turned a bearded man bearing the gifts of his outer-garments on Christmas Eve - following a success shorn of the penalty-box shortcomings that led him to castigate his players in the wake of their midweek victory over Livingston.
A pounding of the Perth men that restored the Scottish champions’ nine-point league lead was underpinned by two-goal Reo Hatate excelling in an unfamiliar right-back role. His fellow countryman Kyogo Furuhashi also bagged a double on an afternoon when Postecoglou’s grumbles were reserved for a 95th minute red card shown to David Turnbull. That resulted from referee Kevin Clancy being asked to consult the pitchside VAR monitor after Turnbull initially being shown a yellow for catching keeper Remi Matthews on the face with a high boot as the pair challenged for a high ball.
The dismissal had Posteocoglou furiously shaking his head in front of his technical area but he returned to being full of seasonal generosity on the subsequent lap round the stadium. Making the day of two supporters by giving away his famous black jumper and club tie. At which point, he joked, he could not traumatise any of the faithful by further disrobing.
"There were a few with signs,” said the Celtic manager. “Obviously they want something from the players and the players had already gone past so I thought I would spread some goodwill and cheer with my jumper and tie. And I was stopping there because I wouldn't have done anyone any favours after that. It's an important time of the year. A lot of people in society have it tough at this time of the year but I'm sure our supporters, whatever troubles they may have, will be sitting around the Christmas table with smiles on their faces, and for us that's really important.”
Celtic were sunnyside up from the early stages of a comprehensive win. James Forrest and Daizen Maeda in the wide roles - in place of Jota and Liel Adada - set the tone with forcing runs. Hatate claimed the opener, though, with an 18th minute drive that skiffed off Drey Wright on its way in. No.2 was the product of Matt O’Riley crossing from Kyogo Furuhashi to deftly touch in at the near post and it was 3-0 at the interval from a similar move: Aaron Mooy picking out Forrest on right, for the winger to sweep over and Furuhashi to first-time over the line.
A one-touch passing move involving Callum McGregor and Forrest, ended with the on-rushing Hatate being set up to rifle in his second just after the break - VAR effectively gave it after a lengthy check for a possible offside - and Postecoglou was effusive in his commendations for his emergency right-back. The 25-year-old filling in there as a result to an injury to Anthony Ralston while Josip Juranovic has yet to return following his exploits with smei-finalist Croatia in the World Cup.
"He was great. I had to get creative. To be fair, if it didn't work, it would have been John Kennedy's idea. I thought with the way we set up, you can disrupt the whole team and I thought the easiest thing for us was to put a player there who maybe wasn't familiar with the position,” he said. “Reo has played left-back earlier in his career, which I knew from Japan, but he's not a full-back, that's for sure.
“But I thought any frailties we may have had defensively he would give us plenty going the other way and make us even more dangerous. Credit to him, I thoiuught even defensively he did a good job and kept his discipline and his position. As soon as I told him, he was fine, he was all in. Apart from the goals, it was a really good performance.”
Postecolgou was exasperated by the VAR workings that led to substitute Turnbull’s sending off, which followed Drey Wright pulling a goal back from the visitors on the back of a double save from Joe Hart. Another goal awarded after a protracted VAR offside check.
"I don't think there was any intent from Bull at all to hurt the keeper,” he said. “Usually you get an idea from the reaction of the players around it how serious it was. The referee dealt with it, gave him a yellow card, but nowadays obviously there are other eyes on it. The keeper was getting treatement for how long? And then we wait for the keeper to be up on his feet to go and check it. It just takes too long, there is no need. I'm disappointed for Bull because I don't think there was any intent.”
St Johnstone counterpart Callum Davidson, meanwhile, pointed the finger in his own direction over the club’s first defeat in seven outings. "I probably take a little bit of responsibility,” he said. “We went with two strikers, tried to go with a bit of an attacking formation. We wanted to press them a bit higher. When we got it wrong it allowed them to play in pockets and slide passes in behind. So I take a little bit of responsibility for that but I thought we played some decent stuff. Then you find yourself 3-0 down and you just have to make sure it's a respectable scoreline. We changed the shape second half and the game sort of died down.”
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