Ange Postecoglou insisted he couldn’t fault his Celtic players for effort after their Champions League qualifying exit – but said he may not have made his point on reinforcements clearly enough.
Celtic were dumped out of the Champions League as a 2-1 loss to Midtjylland after extra-time in Denmark meant a 3-2 defeat on aggregate, and a drop into Europa League qualifying.
The team picked to start included a back four with an average age of 21, and only one of the new signings made this summer, in the shape of teenage winger Liel Abada. Liam Shaw and Osaze Urhoghide were on the bench and Carl Starfelt and Kyogo Furahashi are not yet available due to quarantine rules.
Postecoglou has spoken previously about the difficulty in bringing in new players but, while saying that the defeat to Midtjylland was his responsibility, he implied that some within the club may not have been properly convinced of the need to bring in new recruits quickly.
“I take responsibility,” he said. “I’m the person who has been put in charge.
“We haven’t got players in, I obviously haven’t done a good enough job convincing people we needed to bring people in.
“I’m not going to shy away from it. I don’t say that because I’m some kind of martyr, I just think that’s my responsibility, that’s why I was brought in.
“I have been trying to be as forceful as I can about what we need to bring in, and the challenges we have had are well chronicled. Irrespective of the result tonight, we still need reinforcements. We had a really young squad out there, young players on the bench. It’s not a situation we need to be in.”
The Australian said he would need to keep reinforcing his views on the need for signings, and said that the club had been working hard in challenging circumstances but, when pressed on whether his sense of urgency was shared, he said “Maybe I wasn’t clear enough. I don’t know.”
Reflecting on the game, where Callum McGregor had put Celtic ahead before Awer Mabil’s equaliser forced extra time and Raphael Onyedika scored the winner, Postecoglou was disappointed.
He took issue over a question describing the defeat as “catastrophic”, saying: “It’s pretty strong language mate, I don’t know what your version of catastrophic is but it certainly doesn’t fit my definition of what happened tonight.
“This is obviously a disappointing night, disappointing we didn’t get through, I can’t fault the effort of the players, I think they worked their socks off, we controlled the game.
“We scored and then had a good chance to go 2-0 up and then straight away they scored and we lost a bit of momentum.
“Catastrophic to me means the end. This is far from the end.
“You are suggesting this is a club falling apart and our season is finished, I don’t see it that way.
“Yes, it’s absolutely disappointing, Champions League football is a priority but I can’t ask any more of the players.
“We have our league campaign starting on Saturday. Our focus shifts to that and getting off to a good start.”