'I will make sure of that': Ange Postecoglou explains how his Celtic 'can't fail' against Real Madrid
Postecoglou stresses the assessment is no form of prediction over the outcome from their hosting of current holders Real Madrid, Celtic long odds to upset the ultimate in continental kingpins who have captured European football’s most prestigious trophy five times in the past eight years to amass a record 14 such titles. Instead, it relates to how the performance-focussed coach benchmarks the endeavours of his charges.
“I will send them out there with the understanding that if they show no fear and just be themselves, then they can’t fail on the night. They can’t,” said the Celtic manager. “If you go out there and give the best of yourself there is no failure. And however we come out from it, I will make sure of that.”
The Champions League has become a killing field for Celtic since their last 16 progress in 2012, achieved with an already-fabled 2-1 home success over Barcelona. They have two wins from their past 18 encounters in the competition, and have failed to score in six of their past nine home encounters alone. “I understand that, and the reality is, those are the facts. My job tomorrow night is to create optimism. If I do that, I’ll have achieved something,” he said with a smile.
Overcoming Carlos Ancelotti’s men would make for an evening to reverberate across the continent and be savoured by the Celtic faithful in the fashion of the lionised skewering of the Catalan behemoths. Yet, that Australian dares to want his Celtic team to possess a far more sustained roar.
“I think this club has had enough famous victories,” Postecoglou said. “If you want to become a really strong Champions League club it’s not just having a one-off victory. It’s about building. You want people talking about this football club as a real formidable opponent.
“That’s not going to happen one day to the next. Our record in recent years hasn’t been great, so you can’t go from that to being totally dominant. But on the road to being that team you have got to make your mark and make an impact. Our job is to make an impact.
“I don’t just want a famous victory. That’s where we have to break the cycle. It’s about having a strong Champions League campaign. We can win tomorrow night and if we lose the next five and don’t qualify, it kind of defeats the purpose. Yes, everyone will remember the night and everything, but that’s not what I want. When I talk about us being a Champions League club it’s not about getting a one-off result. It’s about coming out there tomorrow night and competing against the very best.
"Even if doesn’t get us a result, we want to be competing. Then in the next game we go in and we try to compete a little bit better so that by the end of it we have had a campaign where we have either been successful, or gone close and at least we have tested ourselves. And then next year, whatever gaps we have, we want to get better.”