Yet Ange Postecoglou doesn’t dismiss the significance of the sequence that his Celtic side have put together in a first season at the helm that began with little promise as the Australian comprehensively reshaped his squad. Instead, he is comfortable suggesting his team should have in their sights on a best in the entire history of the Scottish game. Celtic will look to rack up their 31st domestic game without defeat when they host Ross County on Saturday. There have been a raft of such runs in the 20s since Rangers enjoyed a 36-match stretch without loss in domestic football across the 1992-93 season. However, in the 29-years since, only Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic invincibles have bettered the current total of Postecoglou’s men. In avoiding domestic defeat for a season and a half between 2016 and 2017, Rodgers’ team set a new record of 69 games for such a measure by a club in this country since organised football began 149 years ago with the 1873-74 Scottish Cup.
“There’s nothing bad about that – it gives you something to aim for,” said the Celtic manager, whose cinch Premiership leaders will look to complete six months without defeat in national competitions when facing the Highlanders. “I think what’s more important is we have to continue to improve as a team. We are taking our first steps and it’s only been nine months. But this has given us a good platform to improve. I’m sure there are more challenges ahead and we need to tackle them in the same way we have so far.
“I don’t discount [this being the second longest domestic run in 29 years]. That’s why I am so proud of everyone’s efforts. I don’t know which teams have been on these runs but I’d bet they were a lot more settled than we’ve been. You have to add in the fact this is a brand new team that’s had some major disruptions. To put together a run like that in those circumstances is every credit to the players. You kind of focus on the game by game stuff but I was well aware after the start we had – when we lost three of the first six – that we’ve have to be pretty good from then on if we were going to challenge this year. Potentially, you can only lose four of five games a season if you want to be competing for a title. We knew we had to be very consistent and credit to the players. We haven’t done it easy. We’ve had significant injuries and a fair few disruptions along the way. So for the players to consistently deal with that twice-weekly challenge in the league and the cups has been outstanding. It’s important for us to reflect on what’s got us to this point is that we haven’t looked too far ahead. We haven’t worried too much about where we are, we’ve tackled each game on its merits. It’ll be the same tomorrow.”
The 56-year-old has form for creating such records. In 2011-12 he led Brisbane Roar to 36 games unbeaten, the longest such streak by any sports team in his native Australia. “That was decent,” the Celtic manager said with masterful understatement. “That was a challenge as well because you have the salary cap down there, which is meant to equalise the competition. That’s why teams don’t go on long unbeaten runs, as you can’t outspend the opposition. That was a great run, and if I reflect on it, it was a similar scenario where we didn’t look too far ahead. We embraced each challenge that came our way and we had success that followed.”