Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou watched his side draw 1-1 with Midtjylland in an eventful Champions League qualifier and vowed that his side won’t be as poorly prepared for a big match again under his watch.
Postecoglou took over at Celtic last month and has been working to revamp the squad after key departures, but has found it hard to bring in new faces in the current climate.
He also admitted before his first competitive game that he would have liked more time to work on the squad’s fitness.
The Australian saw new signing Liel Abada give his side the lead but Midtjylland fought back to equalise through Evander in a game that also saw Nir Bitton and Anders Dreyer sent off.
Postecoglou said his players gave their best but will be in a much better place in next week’s return leg.
“I can’t ask any more of the players,” he said.
“We will be better prepared, no doubt, in eight days’ time.
“In fact, I don’t think we will ever be as badly prepared as we were tonight going into such an important game and that’s on me.
“It is, I’m the manager of the football club. I’m the one that takes that responsibility of providing support for the players and staff. If things aren’t happening it’s on me to make them happen.
“I haven’t done a great job so far to be honest because with the disruptions we’ve had, we haven’t been able to bring the players in.
“My role is to try and reinforce this squad and to try to prepare this squad for what is ahead, and to their credit, the players didn’t look for excuses tonight.
“They put in a solid shift and I’m just disappointed they didn’t get the rewards for what I thought was an outstanding performance.”
Midtjylland’s equaliser saw fresh questions raised about goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas, who has struggled for form since arriving at the club last year. Postecoglou refused to criticise the player and preferred to take a positive view of the game.
“I’m getting a lot of ‘glass half-empty’ questions at the moment,” he said. “I think there was plenty of positives tonight rather than people looking for little things that potentially didn’t go right.
“I thought it was a decent strike, we limited them to a couple of shots on goal with a really brand-new back four.
“The midfield worked their socks off. The amount of running that (Ismaila) Soro, Callum McGregor and Ryan Christie did was unbelievable.
“There’s nothing I’m disappointed in tonight. I’m frustrated at the result because the players didn’t get the result I thought they deserved.”
Postecoglou also took a relaxed view of Nir bitton’s sending off, when he received a second yellow card for lifting his hand to Dreyer.
“I was frustrated at the result, as I said, not the performance, but Nir had already been booked and when you’ve been booked you have to be careful in your actions,” he said. “When you infringe again, you give the opportunity to the referee to give you another caution.
“It’s disappointing for him more than anything, because he was really keen to put in a strong performance.
“He had started the game really well for us, so it’s disappointing for him that he misses the second game as well.”