The club’s eighth signing of the summer, right back Josip Juranovic, has travelled to the Netherlands for the deciding leg of their Europa League play-off despite being ineligible for the tie. His new manager expects the Croatian international soon to be replaced as his latest recruit, though. “We’re still working in the background,” he said of Celtic’s market moves, defender Liam Scales expected to join from Shamrock Rovers imminently while the club continue to pursue a deal for Greek striker Georgios Giakoumakis. “We’ll get one or two in for sure in the next few days.”
Thursday’s encounter in Alkmaar will be one of two games in the next few days that will profoundly impact on how the Australian’s first season in charge will shape up, with the derby confrontation against a Covid-19 hit Rangers at Ibrox to follow on Sunday. These tests will represent the most exacting challenges to his revival of Celtic’s on-field fortunes following six staight wins that have produced a thumping 24 goals. But despite defending a 2-0 first leg lead against the Dutch side, Postecoglou won’t alter his team’s absolute focus on playing front-foot football - a continuation of this approach “absolutely” the way Celtic will set-up in Alkmaar. Indeed, as opposed to believing this risk-demanding emphasis on attack opens up the possibility of being defensively porous he maintains it instead provides them their potency at the other end.
“You can’t go there and just try to defend for 90 minutes,” said Postecoglou, who will be without James Forrest and James McCarthy through minor injuries. “They are a good side and being at home they are going to take the game to us. If we were to go there and sit back for 90 minutes, you are sort of more hoping you get through. What we know is that if we play our football, we are always threatening going forward. And if we score goals, it puts more pressure on them. So we won’t change our approach. We’ll go there and try to play our game and impose our style. If we do that, it gives us a better opportunity to be successful.
“I think the fact we are scoring a lot of goals is because the back four and Joe [Hart] are continually looking to play out from the back, which gives us more opportunities. So they are part of that goalscoring threat and defensively the whole team is working hard to deny the opposition opportunities [with four clean sheets in five]. It doesn’t fall to one line for one [scoring or preventing goals] or the other. The strikers scoring goals get the headlines, but internally the players are well aware that is something that begins from playing from the back and our goalkeeper being brave enough to start all of that with the ball. Defensively, we have been sound, but we still have to improve all areas, every unit. But I haven’t felt in any game we have been under siege or under pressure and looking like conceding a lot of goals.”