Heat is unavoidable for the 56-year-old when his team head into their Premier Sports Cup quarter-final tie at home to Raith Rovers on the back of four defeats in five games. The constant upheaval caused by dealing with new players and injured players - for the next week he will remain without five potential first choices in Callum McGregor, James Forrest, Kyogo Furuhashi and long-term absentees Greg Taylor and Christopher Jullien - means a new team every game. None of which excuses Celtic’s limpness in their Livingston loss at the weekend, and indeed Postecoglou maintains he isn’t looking to be cut any slack.
“If things are not going well I’ve been around long enough to know that people, for one reason or another, are going to analyse it and come up with their assessment,” said the Celtic manager, who hopes to give new signing Giorgos Giakoumakis his first minutes from the bench in the cup-tie. “Some won’t be favourable, others may have more of an understanding. But I’ll never let that guide what I do, or who I am as a person. The reality of it is whoever is making the assessments on our current state is making it on limited information. It’s impossible for people outside this football club to know exactly the information that I have and what we are trying to create.
“But you have to accept scrutiny and criticism. It’s part of the game. Some will understand the circumstances and will be measured while others will have different agendas and they will be harder. But it doesn’t affect me. Anyone who gets into this job and doesn’t want scrutiny or criticism will quickly realise that sort of utopia does not exist. The most successful managers still get scrutiny so I don’t think there should be anyone in the food chain who feels they should escape it. But it doesn’t mean that’s going to dictate my mood, my demeanour, make me angry or make me change my approach.”
James McCarthy was rounded on for the poverty of his display in the West Lothian reverse. The 30-year-old endured a desperate first Celtic start that betrayed the midfielder’s early toils to get up to speed after dealing with Covid-19 and the absence of a proper pre-season. Postecoglou sees no value in ruminating on the justness or otherwise of the stick meted out.
“Fair or unfair, James is a big boy and I’m sure he’s had plenty of criticism in his career, and it was his first game,” he said. “He will be the first to admit he didn’t have a great one but there were plenty of others alongside him who would also admit the same. I didn’t have a great day at the office, mate. That’s just what happens sometimes. We’re not going to sit here feeling sorry for ourselves because some people didn’t like what we did at the weekend. We have a responsibility as a whole group to go out there against Raith Rovers and represent our club and our supporters. Those kind of opinions can change pretty quickly. I’m sure James is aware of that.”