ANGE POSTECOGLOU stood dispassionately on the touchline as he watched Celtic lose 1-0 in his first visit to Ibrox on August 29 2021. His emotions remained in check, his guard never dropped.

The manager was entrenched in the same spot a week ago today as he witnessed his team being turned over 3-0 by their city rivals. Once again, he was in control of his reactions, rarely betraying his inner feelings.

In between those two reverses, Postecoglou has won two Premiership titles, two League Cups and a Scottish Cup is up for grabs a fortnight today when the team can complete a memorable campaign with only the eighth treble in the club’s glorious history.

WATCHING BRIEF…Ange Postecoglou looks on at Ibrox last weekend.

However, no-one can be in any doubt how last week’s setback in Govan hurt the Greek-Australian. He could barely even speak to the club’s own TV station afterwards such was the disappointment at what had evolved before his very eyes.

There is an ancient adage that goes the lines of: ‘Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.’

We are fortunate Postecoglou is clearly an individual who realises second best – even for 90 minutes – is nowhere in this game.

If the team boss had offered a shrug of the shoulders, content the crown was already done and dusted, we would all have been in trouble. The man is a winner.

Celtic went into last weekend’s encounter with an unbeaten record against the Ibrox team this season – four triumphs and a draw. The grip on that particular sequence was all too easily prised apart with a bewilderingly tame and inept performance where too many individuals in green and white failed to respond to the demands that come with donning that shirt.

THE FACE OF A WINNER…Ange Postecoglou celebrates in front of the Celtic support.

Bertie Auld was a dear and valued friend of mine. He was the archetypal gallus Glaswegian and I can tell you he would have thrived in that hostile atmosphere in front of 50,000 baying fans with zilch to look forward to after the remaining games of the season had been rendered meaningless shortly after Filipe Jota’s neat header nestled behind Allan McGregor had obliterated their interest in the Scottish Cup the previous month.

Seven days ago, the foundations at the stadium had been taking a pounding long before the kick-off with the toxic song-list getting a hammering. I had the mental image of Bertie emerging from the tunnel to take his place while conducting the Ibrox choristers.

The wee chap from Maryhill and team-mates such as Billy McNeill, Tommy Gemmell, Bobby Murdoch and Jimmy Johnstone would have stared right into the eyes of the snarling onlookers, rolled up their sleeves and delivered a spirited shift. No hiding place? They would have welcomed the situation to stand up and be counted.

Unfortunately, that quality was missing a week ago. Postecoglou will have been working on that particular situation throughout the week, you can be assured of that.

THE GOVAN GAUNTLET…Ange Postecoglou strides towards the Ibrox entrance.

When I interviewed Davie Provan for my tribute book to the legendary Billy McNeill, ‘In Praise of Caesar‘, I came close to applauding a quote offered by a gifted and gritty performer who played his part in the revival of the team following the managerial switchover from Jock Stein to his European Cup-winning captain in 1978.

Davie put it this way: “Look at how Billy carried himself, that poise, straight back and the chest thrust forward. It was never more puffed up than when we were playing Rangers at Ibrox. He led by example and that composure and reassurance got through to the players. We would get off the coach at the front door of our greatest rivals and we all felt ten feet tall.

“That was Billy’s doing. There was never the merest hint of nerves on these days. That sort of confidence, self-assurance, belief, assertiveness, call it what you will, does rub off on players. and Billy McNeill was well aware of that, you better believe it.”

Back then, the reception committee gathered outside the front door in the hopeless quest of inflicting doubts in the minds of Celtic managers and players.

Billy McNeill and Co nonchalantly treated the pathetic sentiments with the utter contempt they so richly merited.

Ange Postecoglou also deserves to walk tall. The next visit to Govan will be hugely interesting.

* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report and best action images from Celtic v St Mirren this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.

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