HARD-TO-PLEASE Ange Postecoglou was delighted with Celtic’s scintillating and devastating display in the 3-0 midweek rout of Rangers at Parkhead.
The Hoops boss, though, will demand improvements from his players when they face Motherwell at Fir Park in the 1.30pm kick-off tomorrow.
The Parkhead side swept Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s visitors aside with a rampant opening 45 minutes and impressive Japanese newcomer Reo Hatate got the show on the road with a crisp right-foot drive from just outside the box in only five minutes.
Remarkably, Allan McGregor was then forced to produce four top-class saves to deny Giorgos Giakoumakis THREE times and also Filipe Jota as the home side continued the ferocious onslaught on his goal.
POSTECOGLOU IN PARADISE…the Celtic boss acknowledges the fans after the midweek romp.
The 40-year-old Ibrox keeper was forced to concede defeat twice just before the interval when Hatate curled one around Connor Goldson and low down at the netminder’s left-hand post and then the same player raced free on the left before setting up Liel Abada to knock in the third from close-range after he had timed his race in front of the dithering Borna Barisic to perfection.
The impressive performance took the home side to the top of the Premiership for the first time this season and they now lead by a point before tomorrow’s confrontation in Lanarkshire with Gers then taking on Hearts at Ibrox with a 4pm start.
No-nonsense Postecoglou said: “We go into every game, whether that is Wednesday night or on Sunday, saying to the boys: ‘Okay, the main objective will be to play our best game of the season today – let’s play better than we have played so far’.
“So, you are not thinking about how we played in the last game, that it was good and we want to repeat that.
“We don’t want to repeat that, you want to improve on that.
“It doesn’t always work out like that, sometimes there is a dip in form, sometimes the opposition can stop you from playing at those levels, but in terms of the intent, of course you want to improve.”
BY THE RIGHT…Reo Hatate prepares to strike the ball for the opening goal.
ON TARGET…Reo Hatate (extreme left) watches his low shot flash past the diving Allan McGregor.
The Greek-Australian gaffer continued: “Matt O’Riley is three games into his Celtic career, Reo Hatate, Giorgos Giakoumakis – most of these guys are at the beginning of a new cycle, a new way of playing so there has to be improvement, we have to improve, absolutely.
“If we want to be a team we want to be, even for this year, if we want to be successful, we have to be better than we were the other night.
“We were delighted to win, but pretty soon after the game the players went into recovery mode and got ready for the next challenge.
“The end goal was never to be on top in February, the end goal was to be on top when it counts. All Wednesday night did was push us a little bit close towards that goal, but we are not there yet.
“There is nothing there to suggest mind-sets should change or approach should change.”
ON THE BALL AND BACK IN THE SQUAD…Tom Rogic could return against Motherwell tomorrow.
Postecoglou has Tom Rogic “back and ready to play” against Graham Alexander’s side after the stylish midfielder missed the Premiership wins over Hearts, Dundee United and Rangers due to international duty with Australia.
Asked if Rogic would get a break, the manager, speaking to Sky Sports, answered: “We don’t do breaks during the year, he will get a break at the end of the year like everyone else.
“He’s back and ready to play.”
The Celtic boss revealed no casualties from the midweek encounter with striker Daizen Maeda, a second-half substitute after returning from World Cup outings with Japan, ready to start if required.
Postecoglou added: “Everyone is fine, no issues. We had a couple of little niggles going into it with the boys who were starting, but they all got through it okay.
“We will obviously also get back Nir Bitton who was suspended.”