ANTHONY RALSTON has been a revelation in his new role at Celtic in the past three games.
Ange Postecoglou has introduced a new style of playing to the team and the boss admits he puts massive demands on his players to deliver.
After a stuttering start with new players under quarantine and sitting on the sidelines, the Hoops have picked up momentum with a 4-2 win over Jablonec in the first leg of the Europa League qualifier in the Czech Republic a week ago and the 6-0 success against Dundee at Parkhead on Sunday.
Ralston, who has his contract extension activated by the incoming manager in June, has netted in back-to-back league outings against Hearts in the 2-1 loss at Tynecastle in the Premiership opener and the rout of the Tayside team at the weekend.
The 55-year-old Greek-Australian gaffer is keen for Ralston and left-back Greg Taylor to push into the centre of midfield to receive the ball and has been delighted with how the Scots have responded to the radical change in their roles.
Postecoglou, who is preparing for tonight’s return against the Czechs at a sell-out Parkhead, admitted: “I put more demands on our players than is the case with most systems at other clubs.
“Whether that’s defenders who are expected to play out from the back or attacking players who’re also expected to defend pretty aggressively, there are other clubs where they’re not asked to do that.
“Our full-backs play a little differently, but both Anthony and Greg have embraced that. It’s a different approach to their positions and I think they’ve both done well.
“Anthony’s taken his opportunity and he’s thriving at the minute. It is very challenging for any footballer to adjust things they have been doing for a long time in a certain way.
“But, you know, that’s the kind of players I want, the kind of team I want us to be: one that embraces new challenges, takes some risks and be a little bit different in everything we do. Anthony’s clearly been one who has done that.”
Postecoglou, speaking to the Glasgow Times, added: “The last two games have obviously gone well. I think there’s an opportunity to build momentum because of the circumstances. Being a European fixture with a full house, it’s a unique set of circumstances of which we want to take advantage.
“If we can have another positive performance and get a positive result it creates a good atmosphere moving forward and gives everyone encouragement – the players and our supporters. It is a good opportunity to do that.
“The benefits for the team are significant. It will be my first time with that, but it will also be so significant for the boys who have been here a while. It will be a sharp contrast with what they went through last year with no supporters.
“We don’t need reminding that the supporters are the lifeblood of a football club – particularly this football club – and what they add to the arena and a game of football. I think they will all be excited – even the Callum McGregors who have been here for so long.
“Walking out in front of 60,000 at Celtic Park on a European night, for all of us it will be a special occasion.”