Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou thinks belief has grown within his squad as they have dealt with challenges this season and become stronger.
A hard-fought 2-1 win over Hearts on Wednesday stretched an unbeaten domestic run to 20 games as Celtic prepare for a week that could be pivotal in the title race, with Rangers due to visit Glasgow’s east end next midweek.
Celtic had lost at Tynecastle in their opening game of the Premiership season as Postecoglou looked to put his mark on the team after a summer of widespread change at the club.
He feels Wednesday’s win was an example of how the team had improved as they overcame challenges throughout the season, and an experience that will make them stronger still.
“It helps with the bond but it also helps with belief as well,” he said. “You understand the challenges going into the game.
“That’s what I consistently praise the guys on, in that they have just been a resilient group of people.”
The huge turnover in the squad, and numerous injuries to key players, have made the manager’s job more difficult but he said that something that had helped forge the squad as a unit.
“Players and staff have had some enormous challenges since the first game,” he said.
“Even when things weren’t going well in terms of the results early on, we weren’t making excuses, weren’t asking for time, weren’t saying it was going to take a bit for people to settle, we just rolled our sleeves up and got on with it.
“The result from that is we go to Tynecastle, a difficult place against a team that is going well, and get a victory when we had some challenges on the day, giving a guy a debut and (with us) playing one or two days before.
“It further fuels that belief they have in what we are doing and that in turn creates that bond.
“It is something that self-fulfils itself, once you buy into something that you don’t let whatever potential impediment stop you from what you want to achieve.”
Postecoglou is now preparing his team to face Dundee United, and says he can’t afford to look ahead to the Rangers game just yet. Between now and then there will also be the closure of the transfer window and the Celtic boss said he isn’t intending to make any more additions to the five players recruited so far, though some fringe players may be heading out of Celtic Park.
“No, I wouldn’t be expecting anyone else,” he said. “We are still working on getting loan opportunities for some of our boys.
“I expect there will be some sort of activity between now and the end of the window.
“It could even go beyond the window, there are certain markets around the world that don’t close at that time.”