It can become a case of he said-he said, frothy back-and-forth when a footballing personality makes a bold claim over a perceived weakness in one of the team’s make-up and that results in the architect of it biting back. Ange Postecoglou doesn’t really play such games, though. Ahead of his men’s hosting of their bitter rivals in the title rivals first league skirmish, the Celtic manager seemed more amused than angered at comments by Barry Ferguson’s in his newspaper column to the effect that Giovanni van Bronckhorst may have his opposite number “sussed”. The former Rangers captain built his case for this claim around how the final two meetings of the ancient adversaries panned out last season…which conveniently followed back-to-back wins for Postecoglou over the Dutchman that firmly set up Celtic for championship success.
These victories gave way to Rangers’ extra-time 2-1 Scottish Cup semi-final success in April in a derby dust-up that was quickly followed by a 1-1 draw at Parkhead in which the Ibrox men finished the stronger side. And Ferguson considers the joy his old team had in those meetings can be attributed to van Bronckhorst tweaking his team’s tactics at various stages to deal with Celtic’s front-foot approach, from which they never deviate. Ferguson contends the fact Celtic only have a Plan A under Postecoglou while the Rangers manager has demonstrated – in Europe as well as local hostilities – he can switch between a Plan A, B, C and D, could give Rangers the edge as the pair clash in Glasgow’s east end on Saturday lunchtime. Knock yourself with that take Barry, seem to be the Australian’s insouciant reaction.
“It’s okay,” said the Celtic manager. “He’s entitled to his opinion. He gets asked these questions and if that’s what he believes then that’s what he believes. What does it mean to me? I don’t know. I really have no idea. It doesn’t affect me. I’d be safe to assume Gio will be preparing his team well for the game and that’s what I’m doing. I’m sure there will be opinions about my team and who will be the victor all the way to kick-off and there will be more opinions afterwards. It’s all part of the fun of the game.
“People have been telling me my whole career I’ve only got a Plan A – and they are right! My Plan A is to win things. That’s all I’ve tried to do my whole career and as long as I’m winning things then it’s a pretty good bet to keep doing what I’m doing. If I stop winning things then maybe I’ll look to change the way my teams play. At the moment that’s where my focus is. When you look at my team anyway, the players we have all bring different qualities. I’ve tried to build the squad that way. Yes, we have some principles around our football, but if you look at the areas of the side, they all bring different attributes which can change the nature of the game.”