The 1-0 loss at Ibrox in the season’s first derby could be perceived to have undone much of the good work the Australian has produced across the early part of his managerial tenure in Scotland. Yet he refuses to consider that the inability to change the mood music round a pivotal fixture that Celtic are now without a win in seven in – six of these lost – will lead to the fanbase directing discordant noises in the direction of him and his players.
“That depends,” the 56-year-old said. “The reaction could be big from people other than our fans. But in terms of our fans, we’re disappointed with what happened here today, but they can see what we’re trying to build and what we’re trying to put out here. It’s not going to be game of the month, that’s for sure. But I think there have been some positive signs over the last few weeks. It is just disappointing today that we weren’t able to capitalise on it.”
Postecoglou appeared largely nonplussed about the contribution of new arrival Josip Juranovic, the Croatian right-back deployed on the left of the back four as a consequence of Greg Taylor failing to recover from a shoulder injury sustained in the Europa League play-off progress in Alkmaar on Thursday.
“He did OK,” said the Celtic manager. “It has been that kind of month where we are throwing guys in. He got thrown in today. He went in at left-back and he is a right-back, but I thought with his experience he would be able to handle it okay. I thought he did OK. The experience will help him adjust.”
In lamenting the loss of a “tight game” with “not a lot of chances, not a lot of open spaces”, Postecoglou did not get hung-up on a familiar failing resulting in the deadlock breaker, which he figured would be crucial – a set-piece delivery, that allowed Borna Barisic to curl a corner on to the head of Filip Helander approaching the hour.
“I am bitterly disappointed to lose any goal. I don’t think a set piece is any different to anything else. It is still about being organised. To be fair, it was an alright corner, it was a great header. There are moments in games, in tight derby games and you have to take those moments. But we had a couple of great chances after that.”
A complete mishit when close in midway through the first period denied Odsonne Edouard that first goal, and Postecoglou did not downplay its significance. “If we had scored that then it changes the complexion, puts them under a bit more pressure. They are the big moments. It didn’t work out for us. It is disappointing in a tight game that when we could have taken a foothold in it we didn’t.”