With the game kicking off soon, it was good to hear from Ange yesterday reiterating his commitment to attacking football and an aggressive style. The man never wavers. It was also good to hear him talk about his general view of our club.
Ange does not think we need fear any side. I doubt that he was asked to comment directly on what Van Bronckhorst said the other night about not being able to compete, but he had a message on that score anyway. He expects us to compete.
Indeed, that is what he demands from these players.
That speaks to his self-confidence and his belief in this side, but also about how he sees football. The man believes that we should always be trying to win no matter who it is against. Not for him any of this hiding behind excuses about other clubs having more money.
He was clear that he doesn’t think that way and nor should anyone else at Celtic.
On his first press conference with the fans this was the question I asked him, in relation to sports science and all the fancy tricks the modern manager uses. He talked about how with the Australian national team he had to use every tool at his disposal and these were the sort of things he utilised to get that edge. That was music to my ears then and now.
You can see that Celtic intends to punch above our weight. It’s in everything the team is doing and how the squad has been built. This is the stage he and the coaches and the players think we belong on and this is where they want us to be … Van Bronckhorst sounds as if he would rather be back in the Europa against lesser teams for lesser rewards.
But Ange wants us to have the big club mentality, and big clubs do not hide from these challenges or make excuses in advance of them. The real problem with what Van Bronckhorst did was that it gave his players an alibi for failure.
Ange made it equally plain yesterday that he’s unsatisfied with several aspects of the game against Madrid, and especially the conceding of the second goal so quickly after the first. He agrees that we did compete for 60 minutes but points out that you have to compete for 90 at this level and that is where he wants this team to get to.
He will not give them alibis or excuses or allow them to think that switching off is acceptable, against anyone.
He strives as always to make us better than that.
Tonight’s line-up has just been announced and the team is as follows.
Starting Eleven: Hart, Juranovic, Carter-Vickers, Jenz, Taylor, McGregor, Hatate, O’Riley, Jota, Kyogo, Haksabanovic.
Subs: Bain, Siegrist, Giakoumakis, Abada, Mooy, Turnbull, Bernabei, Abildgaard, Maeda, Forrest, Ralston, Welsh
So some interesting decisions in there … and in about an hour we’ll have kick off.
See you on the other side folks.