ANGE POSTECOGLOU kicked off July with some frenzied activity in the transfer market as he spent almost £17million in bringing in three players plus free agent Benji Siegrist.
First to sign up was £6million Spurs central defender Cameron Carter-Vickers after his impressive loan season from the London club.
The US international, 24, penned a four-year deal and admitted: “I really couldn’t be happier.”
Swiss keeper Benji Siegrist was next after quitting Dundee United at the end of his contract and said: “It’s a match made in heaven.”
Argentinian left-back Alexandro Bernabei arrived on a £3.75million switch from top-flight Lanus and smiled: “I’ve heard the people are crazy.”
DEAL US IN…Cameron Carter-Vickers and Filipe Jota celebrate a goal from the Portuguese flyer in a 2-1 win over Aberdeen at Pittodrie in October 2021.
Presumably, it was meant as a compliment from the 23-year-old defender who was looking forward to sampling the atmosphere at Parkhead first-hand during action for his new club.
Filipe Jota, who, like Carter-Vickers, had been convincing during his temporary transfer, agreed a £6.5million move from Benfica and the 23-year-old instant fans’ favourite said it was a “no-brainer” and added: “I love the way we play.”
Speaking of the two loanees from the previous campaign, Postecoglou declared: “They’re great footballers with a lot of potential to improve, but also great people and that’s what we want to build our football club around.
“We are very happy that we’ve got them in permanently and I know that they are, as well. They want to be part of this and what we’re creating and it’s great to have them involved.”
Celtic got the ball rolling on their 2022/23 campaign preparations with a 7-0 triumph over the minnows of Wiener Viktoria in Austria.
IN WITH A SHOUT…new Celtic keeper Benji Siegrist.
WELCOME TO PARADISE…Alexandro Bernabei makes history as Celtic’s first-ever Argentinian player.
Young Irish striker Johnny Kenny fired in a double and there were singles from Mikey Johnston, James Forrest, Christopher Jullien, Reo Hatate and Rocco Vata as the Hoops hit the ground running.
Postecoglou said: “We have obviously just started pre-season, so the ones who played are the ones who came in earlier and had an extra week under their belt.
“We’ve had a good couple of days here, the boys have been working hard. Considering all that, the intent and effort were good, particularly in the first-half, so I’m pleased with the overall effort.
“These games are about everything – your fitness, playing our football, the standards we set, everything’s included.
“Irrespective of it being the first game or the last game of pre-season, you want to make a mark with everything we do and for the most part it was positive.”
Postecoglou added: “It’s been good through the pre-season, we’ve had guys coming in at different stages, so this is a window of opportunity for some of the younger guys to come in and experience the environment and for us to have a look at them.
“They’ve all acquitted themselves well, they realise what’s required at this level and they’ve been solid contributors.
THE CLOCK IS TICKING…Ange Postecoglou prepares for the competitive games with a 3-3 draw against Rapid Vienna in the Austrian capital.
“It doesn’t change for us irrespective of who the opposition is. We need to stick to our standards and levels and we have some hard work to put in with the boys and they’re willing participants in that.
“They want it and know this is the time for us to lay a strong foundation for what’s ahead. We’ve had a good couple of days training and, hopefully, we have a good strong finish to the week.”
After a handful of other friendlies, including a 2-2 draw with Legia Warsaw in Poland and and a 3-3 draw with Rapid Vienna in Austria plus two warm-ups at Parkhead against English opposition – Blackburn Rovers 2-2 and Norwich City 2-0 – the real stuff got underway in the east end of Glasgow on Sunday July 31.
Goals from Stephen Welsh, with an early header from a right-wing corner-kick, and a superb solo goal from Jota after the interval got the champions off to a winning start, but hard-to-please Postecoglou admitted he was “disappointed” with some aspects of the team’s display.
FIRST GOAL OF THE SEASON…Stephen Welsh heads in the opener in the 2-0 win over Aberdeen on Flag Day at Parkhead on July 31.
Chances were made and almost routinely scorned and the team got a scare just before the interval when Joe Hart was left standing following a sidefooted effort from ex-Celt Jonny Hayes that swept just wide of his right-hand upright.
The home side dominated proceedings and could – and should – have been two or three goals ahead at that stage.
Postecoglou said: “It was a solid performance, but we were just wasteful in front of goal.
“I was disappointed because I thought we could have been a lot more clinical with the chances we created. If we’d taken them we could have put the game well to bed.
“Sometimes you can fall into the trap of knowing we will create loads of opportunities and because of that you are not as focused as you should be. My view is we are creating opportunities, so let’s take as many as we can.”
The Greek-Australian gaffer continued: “I thought we started the game really well and the first half-hour were really good. The last 15 minutes of the first-half we got slack with our passing and not as aggressive with our press on the ball.
“We let the game be more open than it should have been, which was disappointing. I thought after the break we got control again and we finished strongly. It was a decent work-out. Our movement was good and our passing was good.
MUST DO BETTER…Ange Postecoglou reckons Celtic were wasteful in front of goal in the season-opener against the Dons at Parkhead on the last day of July.
“But, we could have had more chances if we made better decisions in the final third. You can’t just dismiss the last 15 minutes of the first-half. There are lessons in there as other teams may punish you in that period.”
Asked if the cutting edge would come with more competitive hours on the pitch, he answered: “The season has started. I don’t buy into that. We’ve goalscorers all over the park, so we need to be focused in all aspects of our game.”
Two arrivals to the squad had also been Australia international midfielder Aaron Mooy on a two-year deal and German central defender Moritz Jenz on a season-long loan frm French Ligue 1 outfit Lorient.
Postecoglou admitted: “They will be great additions.”
July 31: CELTIC 2 Aberdeen 0
* TOMORROW: Don’t miss the fifteenth thrilling instalment of CQN’s EXCLUSIVE tribute to Ange Postecoglou.