ANGE POSTECOGLOU had a swift reply to the question of the financial rewards – around £40million – Celtic can expect for progress in the Champions League.
‘”I’m not an accountant, mate,” answered the new Hoops boss who is concentrating solely on putting together a winning team at Parkhead.
Postecoglou was frustrated his side let FC Midtjylland off the hook in the second round first leg qualifier in Glasgow on Tuesday night after being handed the perfect start by new Bhoy Liel Abada who rifled in his first goal for the club on his debut.
The side also hit the woodwork twice through rejuvenated Ryan Christie and new captain Callum McGregor, but, unfortunately the manager also saw his players press the self-destruct button with Nir Bitton’s idiotic red card and Vasilis Barkas’ pathetic attempt at keeping out an angled free-kick from Evander for the equaliser that has piled on the pressure before the return leg in Denmark on Wednesday.
Postecoglou was blown away by the warm welcome he got from the 9,000 fans in the ground before the game and he admitted that was all the motivation he required.
Asked about the massive cash prizes that are up for grabs, the former Australia boss said: “I’m not an accountant mate, I’m a football manager. When people start talking to me about finances they miss the essence of what I’m about.
“I’m not interested. I want to win games, I want to win trophies, I want to bring special nights to here. The finances are for other people.
“The reception was brilliant. It was a special night for me. To walk out the tunnel as Celtic manager in a Champions League game, the response was very special.
“That will remain with me. I guess that’s why I love the game.
“You talk about finances, the last thing on my mind when you get a response like that from people who love this football club, that’s what motivates me.”
Postecoglou acknowledged the part the supporters played in his first competitive game in Glasgow and he commented: “Massive. They saw enough to encourage them to get right behind this group of players.
“Age alone, look at the line-up we had, inexperience and having a crowd behind them makes an enormous difference and I hope they left with a little bit more optimism about where they are heading.”
The 55-year-old coach bristled, though, at the suggestion his line-up against the Danes had been “patchwork”.
He said: “That is a bit disrespectful, to be fair. There were internationals out there and some young kids who are doing everything for this club. The guys who are given the responsibility of wearing a pretty heavy shirt in a Champions League tie, they gave everything they possibly could.”
However, Postecoglou took time off to praise 18-year-old Dane Murray who was pressed into action following the foolish actions of the experienced Bitton just before the interval.
He smiled: “He’s a young guy, born in 2003. I can remember 2003 quite clearly!
“He’s not just coming on the pitch, he’s facing a formidable opponent and with 10 men.
“But you know what, my gut instinct told me he wouldn’t be fazed by it.
“I watched him in training and he’s a young kid who has not just got football potential but a personality and character that belies his age.
“I was quite happy to trust him out there and it was an important part of the game, we were down to 10 men and we had to work very hard.”
Postecoglou may have been disappointed with the result in the first leg, but he is convinced the tie is far from over.
The Hoops chief, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “It’s half-time in a game and I don’t think anyone has an advantage.
“From our perspective, we’ve just got to go over there and perform as we did at Parkhead.
“We weren’t well prepared for the first leg, we’ve had so many disruptions in pre-season for a number of reasons. We literally had one training session with this group of players.
“For them to put in the effort they did, there were quite a number who weren’t ready for 90 minutes, but they found something extra.
“There are another few days between the first leg and the next fixture and we’ll be better prepared for the next game.”