Ange Postecoglou “won’t tell” Celtic fans how they should react to Leigh Griffiths after striker jeered by support during West Ham drubbing

Ange Postecoglou’s growing reputation for straight talking was evidenced again in the Celtic manager’s reaction to jeering for Leigh Griffiths during the club’s 6-2 defeat to West Ham.

Leigh Griffiths was jeered by supporters each time he touched the ball during the 6-2 defeat by West Ham.(Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)

The 30-year-old, introduced in the wholesale team changes on 55 minutes, was verbally set-upon by the near 18,000 home crowd following a police investigation that found no criminality over allegations of inappropriate online messages to young girls. Essentially asked if he would appeal to the support to get off Griffiths’ back, the Greek-Australian didn’t take the easy way out.

“I won't be telling the Celtic supporters anything. They've followed this club a lot longer than I've been here,” he said. “My job is to produce a team they're proud of and we let them down today. [Winning them back] is going to be down to Leigh and his performances. If he works hard at training and produces the kind of football he can, scoring goals, I'm sure the crowd will get behind him. Maybe it is a big challenge for him but that's what he wanted. He didn't have to come back. He wanted to come back and play for the club again. He wanted to contribute. When you make that decision, you embrace everything that comes along with it.”

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Postecoglou is forced to embrace working with a squad that is woefully short of defensive numbers - and the necessary experience or durability. That was demonstrated as David Moyes’ men ripped apart a rearguard composed of 21-year-old centre-back Stephen Welsh and 18-year-old partner Dane Murray, and full-backs Anthony Ralston and Greg Taylor. On an afternoon that the Celtic manager said his team produced bright forward play, he didn’t deny that belief among the only defenders he can really select for the Champions League qualifying decider in Midtjylland on Wednesday - following the 1-1 draw in this week’s Glasgow leg - is likely to have taken a dunt.

“The problem right now is that we've signed two who we can't even use,” he said in reference to £4.3m Swedish centre-back Carl Starfelt and £4.5m Japanese attacker Kyogo Furuhashi, both currently quarantining ahead of joining the squad. “For me, we still need another few players to come in. We don't have any other options in defence. Unless they've been hiding from me. I can only play the ones who are available.

“[Defence] was OK the other night but it wasn't great today. It's an area we need to keep focusing on. But we just didn't defend well as a unit. Maybe playing against better quality we shied away from certain things, which you can't afford to do. But I'm not sure about assessing individual performances after Collectively, we didn't stick to our task. We were bright going forward and showed a willingness to play our football. But you've got to match that with the other side of the game. [But] this result makes no difference to my confidence ahead of Wednesday. We knew it was going to be a tough challenge going over there. We saw in the first leg that we played well but it was still a tight contest. It'll be the same in the second leg.”

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