‘Nobody gave us much of a chance’: Ange ‘lost for words’ as Celtic seals Scottish Premiership

Celtic, led by Ange Postecoglou, won the Scottish Premiership after a 1-1 tie with Dundee United on Thursday morning (AEST).

Celtic are now four points clear of second-placed Rangers with one round remaining in the season. Celtic finished 25 points behind Rangers last season.

Postecoglou told Sky Sports after the game that it was the “first time this year” he was “lost for words” and that the title success was “very fantastic.”

He expressed his pride in the players, staff, and everyone involved.

“Nobody gave us much of a chance. To do what they’ve done and achieve the ultimate is an unbelievable effort. It’s enormous.

“The fans had a tough year last year, not just the fact we didn’t win anything, but they couldn’t come to support their team. I’m just proud of this group of players; they’ve been unbelievable this year.”

Even Postecoglou confessed it was a “bit nervy” near the finish but praised his team for maintaining their composure and winning the title.

“I think our football has been outstanding, but this team’s character has shown in 31 games and to rise to every challenge,” he added.

“I am incredibly proud of them. It’s only natural that I was nervous. These people put their heads down and were laser-focused on their goals, but they succeeded.”

 

After a first half in which Celtic had 71 percent possession, 26 touches in the Dundee box, and eight shots, Postecoglou had every reason to be frustrated.

A few close calls, including Anthony Ralston’s early shot, which went over the bar in the third minute.

In the 40th minute, Giorgos Giakoumakis crossed for James Forrest, but the midfielder could not reach the ball in time.

Celtic went into the halftime break regretting several squandered chances, albeit credit must be given to a well-organized Dundee United defense.

After a cross from Ralston found Giakoumakis, who rose above the rest to head the ball into the net in the 53rd minute, Celtic took the lead.

It put Celtic in a comfortable position heading into the final phases of the competition, with even a draw securing the title.

That one-goal advantage did not last long, as Dylan Levitt’s magnificent strike into the top corner gave keeper Joe Hart no chance of keeping Dundee from tying the game.

However, a draw was enough for Celtic to win Postecoglou’s first season.

Former Celtic striker John Hartson praised Postecoglou’s work since taking over the club during Sky Sports’ pre-game coverage.

“I think Ange Postecoglou has done an amazing job when you look at where Celtic was at the start of the season. People would be lying if they said they hadn’t heard of him: an Australian manager in the J-League.

“His recruitment is spot on, and his 4-3-3 system is better. We didn’t believe Callum McGregor could improve any further, yet he has.

“He’s reconnected the crowd, the players, and done an amazing job.”

McGregor, for one, was just pleased to be able to finally enjoy the victory, saying, “This means everything to me.”

“I’m completely ecstatic. This set of players truly deserves it. Throughout the season, the fans have been fantastic. “Let’s go have some fun,” he told Sky Sports.

“It was a very difficult evening; Dundee United had a good structure and organization.” Saturday will be equally enjoyable for us.

“It means the world to me.” For my family and me, this is a very proud time. Without this group of players and the management, I couldn’t do it. “Everyone has been outstanding.”

In his post-game interview with Sky Sports, Ralston credited Postecoglou, saying, “You can see the influence Postecolgou has had on all of them.”

“That’s why we’ve arrived,” he added.

“Unbelievable. This season, every single member of this team has performed admirably.”

Postecoglou won the Scottish Football Writers’ Association manager award this week, recognizing his contribution to Celtic’s development.

Postecoglou received his latest award just a week after being crowned PFA Scotland manager.

“We’ve had a couple of excellent weekends. We’ve been fairly steady for a while. The players have been outstanding in their dedication to playing our way,” said Postecoglou, who led the Hoops to the Scottish League Cup victory in December.

“Everyone committed to something, and we’ve had a few setbacks, but the entire staff and players rose to every obstacle and stayed true to our vision for the football club we want to be.”

“You have to believe in yourself in what you’re about to embark on, but it’s not just about believing in something; you have to work hard for it, and we’ve worked hard.”

Postecoglou, who takes over as coach of the Hoops in June 2021, said he was “extremely proud” and “humbled” to accept his newest honor.

“I’m incredibly thrilled to receive it because there have been several excellent performances from managers this year, but I also recognize I’ve had tremendous support from everyone at the football club. The players have been outstanding,” he said.

Postecoglou also cautioned rivals that Celtic would improve much more next season.

“Regardless of what happened this year, we have to be better next year,” he remarked.

“People take a long time to adjust to the way I want teams to play and the training regimen, so I’m hopeful we’ll be a stronger team next year, and I’m excited to see what that brings.”

 

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