Postecoglou: It’s too early for Celtic to have ‘statement games’

The Celtic boss is prepared for a busy run of fixtures in December.

Postecoglou: It’s too early for Celtic to have ‘statement games’ Alan Harvey via SNS Group
Postecoglou says he'll approach Hearts like any other game.

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou has downplayed the importance of his side’s match against Hearts on Thursday, saying it’ll be like any other game.

The midweek Premiership clash pits second in the table against third, with Hearts tucked two points behind the Glasgow side.

Though a win would see them open up a clear gap, and defeat see a switch in positions, Postecoglou wasn’t interested in putting any major significance on a game at this stage in the season.

“I think my players are just looking forward to a game at Celtic Park, playing our football and winning,” he said.

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“Statement games are at the back end of the season.

“Let’s just keep our pistols in our holsters for a little while.

“We are just going to play each game as we have so far. I have said a few times, you can get distracted by so many shiny objects everywhere.

“What we want to do is make sure that when we play our football on a game day we are ready for that challenge, because if you start thinking that somehow a result tomorrow gets you something shiny and glittery you lose focus on what is important.

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“Our form has been good because we have been concentrating on and respecting every opponent and that is what we will do tomorrow as well.”

Though the Australian wouldn’t place emphasis on specific games, he and his players are facing a hectic schedule with nine games in December, including a cup final and a number of Premiership fixtures. Asked how he will juggle his squad for a number of demanding matches, he said that there was a balance between being prepared in advance and reacting to events as they unfold.

“We do our planning but after that it is really about being dynamic, being alert and treating ever day as it comes because you can sort of pre-plan things in terms of squad rotation and rest and so forth, but you get injuries, loss of form and things you need to change,” he said.

“So what we are trying to do is and what I have always done is take it on a day-by-day basis – who looks good, who feels right for the next game and tackle that task and put a line through it and move on to the next one.”

Assessing the threat of Hearts in the first of those nine games, he added: “

“They are a good team, they have been consistent, they have an outstanding goalkeeper who has been in great form this year, they are well-structured, they work hard as a team, they have some speed up front.

“So, as the table will show and results will show, they have been one of the more consistent sides in the league.

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“They have their strengths like all the other teams, but we prepare the same way as for any other opponent and for us it is still about the football we play.

“We want to be the team that dominates the game and creates opportunities and tries to limit the opportunities of the opposition, so the focus is well and truly on us.”