The desperately disjointed display in the friendly defeat at home to Preston on Saturday isn’t worth chewing over excessively where the second qualifying round assignment against FC Midtjylland on Tuesday is concerned. Ange Postecoglou’s first XI, contained only two established outfield players over the age of 23. The graver assessment surrounds the fact that, aside from just arrived winger Liel Abada, injured duo Ismaila Soro and Nir Bitton and the initially-benched Odsonne Edouard, there isn’t many tasty treats the new Cetic manager can add to the dish he will serve up against the Danes.
Liam Shaw nibbles at both these takeaways. The 19-year-old summer signing from Sheffield Wednesday maintains the competitive nature of the Champions League tie will bring a different dimension to Celtic’s play. Yet, he also acknowledges that, with Postecoglou less than a month in post and the team in a state of flux as he seeks to impose a very defined playing style, it is a tall order to expect instant results.
‘It’s not going to come overnight, obviously,” Shaw said of Postecoglou’s high-energy, high-pressing, high-line approach. “It’s going to be hard, but he likes that challenge. He wants us to adapt to his style. It’s a challenge for us as well but it’s good. We want to get up to his standard – how he wants us to play football as quickly as we can.”
Postecoglou doesn’t have the players he wants to implement his methods. Japanese winger Kyogo Furuhashi won’t arrive in the country until next week, following the £4.5m deal struck with Vissel Kobe for him on Friday. Carl Starfelt appears on the way from Rubin Kasan, but again the £4.3m move for the Swedish central defender is for team building in the long, not short, term. It is a similar story with the many moves for full-back upgrades.
To prevent a Champions League crumble, Postecoglou has to extract from the hotchpotch squad of senior players and youngsters - both those bought in and those moved up from the academy – more effective contributions than most delivered in the 1-0 defeat to the Lancashire club. An encounter in which they proved sluggish and unconvincing, which allowed their visitors to dominate and threaten in alarming fashion. Shaw petitioned that these weren’t issues to get too worked up about in relation to the Midtjylland test.
“I think we’ll be ready [even if] it has come around fast,” he said. “Since the manager came in, we’ve had our our full focus on it – it’s what we’ve been working towards. I hope we can do the job on the night. I reckon they’ll be a good team. Obviously they qualified for the group stages last season which tells you they’ll be a very good side. But you just have to focus on yourself and apply the manager’s philosophies and his style of play. If we do that to the best of our ability, I think we’ll be alright. Pre-season is more about getting minutes in your legs. I think when it’s suddenly competitive, you click into it. It’s just a different type of feeling playing in competitive games as you know you need to win.”