CELTIC boss Ange Postecoglou has responded to criticism of the Scottish game from former Aberdeen loanee Matty Longstaff.

The Newcastle midfielder’s temporary switch to the Pittodrie club was cut short last month with the youngster moving to League Two club Mansfield Town.

Longstaff was scathing in his assesment of the quality of the Premiership, despite only making five appearances for the Dons.

The 21-year-old Tyneside prospect talked about his short stay being “an eye-opening” experience with the game north of the border all about long balls and wars.

Postecoglou, though, reckons he must be watching a different game.

The Hoops gaffer said: “There is a variety of styles. With us, it is a bit different because a lot of teams will set up more defensively. When I watch games between other teams you can see different styles, different systems.

UP IN ARMS…Ange Postecoglou defends the quality of the Premiership.

“But the one thing you can’t shy away from is that it is a competitive league, it’s not an easy league.

“Sometimes, particularly when people come from down south, players will come up here and somehow because maybe the profile of the clubs isn’t high, think you’ll get easy games, get time.

“You don’t get time and space up here. It doesn’t matter who you are playing against. It is very, very competitive.

“It’s why it is a good league for young players because if you can handle the competitiveness of the league here, then that sets them up.

“We have seen it with our players, particularly the foreigners. They need to adjust and understand that every game is a battle.

“Home or away, it is going to have intensity and no teams here give you time and space to do what you want to do. From that perspective, it is a very challenging league.”

Postecoglou, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “I don’t buy into the theory that you can’t play different types of football.

“When we played Bayer Leverkusen, our budget wasn’t 20 times theirs. I think it was the other way round. No-one can tell me we didn’t play our football against them. I’ve never believed that, even when I was managing in Australia or Japan.

WHAM…Filipe Jota slams in Celtic’s second goal against Bayer Leverkusen before the infortunate collapse late in the tie in Germany.

“To me, the style of game you play is not just dependent on the quality of your players. You can play different types of football at different levels. It hasn’t stopped me from what we did when we played Leverkusen.

“We played them away from home and if anyone tries to say we changed our approach they weren’t watching the game. The budget aspect does give you some advantages, but we have also seen how spending money doesn’t guarantee you success.”

Postecoglou is also bemused at the jibes that insist Celtic are a 60-minute team who run out of steam with a third of the contest still to be played.

He added: “It is a funny one for me because people are talking about that now, but in the past few games – except for Dundee United at home – we have really put them to bed in the first 45 minutes.

“It had nothing to do with our subs. If anything, in the second-halves, we haven’t scored the goals we have in the first-half.

“For me, a bigger squad with more substitutes, means not overloading our players more than anything else.

SIT-DOWN STRIKER…Filipe Jota celebrates his goal against Bayer Leverkusen.

“It is not so much about maintaining intensity during a game, we can do that, but you can’t maintain that intensity across three games in a week with one set of players.

“It is just impossible. We tried that in the first half of the year as we didn’t have the squad we wanted and we suffered through injuries because we were putting an enormous burden on the players.

“So, it is not an issue maintaining it for 90 minutes, it is about maintaining it for 90 minutes across the course of three games a week.”

The Hoops, of course, take on Aberdeen at Pittodrie this evening in the Premiership and then shift their focus to the Scottish Cup when they host Raith Rovers on Sunday with a 4pm kick-off.

That will be followed by the home first leg of the Europa League Conference tie against Bodo/Glint on Thursday with the second leg in Norway seven days later.

A league encounter with Dundee in Glasgow is due on the Sunday afternoon in between the Euro matches.

The Hoops could face 18 games in eight weeks, but Postecoglou said: “I would probably be complaining if we weren’t in the Cup or in Europe. This is what we want.”

* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Aberdeen v Celtic this evening – only in your champion CQN.


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