Ange Postecoglou has challenged his Celtic players to measure up to Champions League standards as they focus on home affairs for the remainder of the season.
Celtic finished their group campaign in the Champions League with two points and a 5-1 defeat to Real Madrid on Wednesday, but there was some encouragement from the way they brought their attacking style of play and created chances throughout the experience.
They are now hosting a squad from Dundee United on Saturday, beating them 9-0 in August and Postecoglou was asked how he could bridge the gap between the Scottish Premiership and the European elite competition when he attended the club’s annual general meeting on Friday.
Postecoglou explained that exposing his players to the standards was the first big step, adding: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the nose. Then you have to figure things out. We took some punches, but we have exposed ourselves and measured ourselves and that will be our yardstick from this day forward.”
Later in a media conference, the Scottish Premiership manager of the month for September and October expressed confidence that Celtic would not be hurt by their defeat in Spain.
“To continue the analogy, I don’t think we’re eliminated,” he said. “I still think we’re sober.
“There’s no surprise in the level we encountered and knowing we need to improve, but as an exercise to test ourselves and measure ourselves, we did. The players understand the levels required and it’s up to us to fill that gap eliminate.
“You have to bring that kind of mentality into your domestic competition. There’s no point in continuing what we’ve done this year and trying to tackle it in 12 months if we qualify again because you’ve wasted 12 months on developing those areas.
“The idea is to take those lessons from the Champions League and use them in the Premiership and Cup competitions and try to raise our level of football.
“I talk to the players every day about Champions League football and Champions League standards. There should be no difference in the way we prepare for Real Madrid or Dundee United.”
Postecoglou is sure his players have already benefited from the experience.
“Time will tell with the way the players take up that challenge, but I’ve seen them grow during games, even if the results don’t reflect that,” he said.
“The way they’ve taken responsibility and tried to play our football, knowing we still have a way to go to get to that level, I’ve already seen growth with them, and also in the national league – our performance there. have been excellent.
“The number of goals we score and the chances we create is because we take the lessons we learned from the Champions League into the national game.
“I hope they understand that there is a level of trust and security that I will not expose them and sell them if we have a night like last night when we conceded five goals.
“I like the spirit they have shown, I like the way they have embraced the challenge. It’s not easy to do.
“There was probably an easier out for us to take, not that it would have guaranteed us better results. But if we had played more conservatively, were less open and aggressive in our approach, we might not have lost the last game for so long. ” a margin.
“But in the other games we weren’t blown away by anyone and they take comfort and confidence from that. I think they want to see how far they can go.”
United sacked Jack Ross in the wake of their club-record home defeat and installed his assistant, Liam Fox, in his role, but they are tied on nine points with bottom club Ross County.
“That day was a bit unusual because we just hit a golden streak in creating chances and scoring goals,” said Postecoglou.
“We’ve had games where we probably created more chances than that day – quite a few this year – and we just didn’t capitalize.
“That day it just fell for us and you have days like that. They’ve made some changes and they’re going to come here and make it difficult.”
Celtic defender Cameron Carter-Vickers will return to the Celtic roster for Saturday’s game after missing Wednesday’s defeat to Real Madrid with a minor injury.