ANGE POSTECOGLOU revealed that Celtic had to earn their latest piece of silverware and said: “That’s the greatest thing for me.”
The Hoops boss watched his players overcome Michael Beale’s Ibrox outfit 2-1 following two opportunistic strikes from Koyo Furuhashi as the livewire Japanese hitman hoisted his goal tally to 24 for the season.
Postecoglou congratulated his hard-working stars and said: “We’ve worked awfully hard for a very long time and part of the process of working hard is to get rewarded for it at some point so that you can keep working hard, and the boys got the reward today, which I thought was well deserved for them.
“You know what it means for our supporters, so it was a great day for the football club.
IT’S ALL OURS…Ange Postecoglou jokes with the League Cup as Daizen Maeda, Yuki Kobayashi and Scott Bain join in the celebrations.
“It’s not about me, or how I feel. That’s the expectations when you’re at this football club. I’ve done interviews with Gordon Strachan – do you know how hard it is following guys like that and Martin and Brendan and Neil Lennon?
“So, when you take this job you know that’s the responsibility, but it doesn’t diminish the achievement.
“We still celebrate it and don’t take it for granted that you just roll up in a Celtic shirt and it’s given to you. You’ve got to earn it and we earned it – and that’s the greatest thing for me.
“Everything we’ve got in the last 18 months since I’ve been here – a bit longer now – we’ve earned through hard work and real belief within the group. So, I take great pride in that.”
Alfredo Morelos capitalised on some uncharacteristic slackness in the champions’ defence to smuggle in a goal that halved the holders’ advantage.
SILVER SMILES…Ange Postecoglou with the spoils of war.
That set up the encounter for a rousing spell, but it was the Parkhead men who should have added to the scoreline when Sead Haksabanovic had a low shot diverted by the left foot of Allan McGregor before Matt O’Riley saw a close-range shot bundled away by the keeper.
And Haksabanovic, who had looked particularly dangerous on the break, missed a wonderful opportunity when he rolled one wide of the far post when it looked as though the Swede was going to bring down the curtain on the team’s third piece of silverware since the arrival of the Greek-Australian.
Postecoglou, speaking to Celtic TV, continued: “It’s a Cup Final and rarely will one side dominate, although I thought we were fantastic in terms of our football, in such a big game with the atmosphere the way it was.
SCREEN STAR…Ange Postecoglou soaks up the atmosphere at Hampden.
“We still scored two great goals and we had an opportunity to break the game open, but credit to Rangers, they stuck in there and went a bit more direct and we had to defend a lot.
“And obviously when they got the goal they got a bit of encouragement from that, but, again, this time is not just one-dimensional and it’s not just about what we do when we’ve got the ball.
“They’re a real resilient group of players and we had to defend. The back four were outstanding in dealing with what they had to, in terms of crosses and the guys in front of them continued to work hard.
“We had to navigate a sticky patch then, but we finished strongly and probably should have put the game away, but, overall, I thought we earned it by doing all facets of the game.”
The players will return to Lennoxtown for training tomorrow as they prepare for the next challenge, Sunday’s visit to to Paisley to take on St Mirren – the only club to inflict a domestic defeat of the Hoops.
Postecoglou added: “I think it’s important we enjoy this occasion because, like I said, this group works awfully hard, not just the players, but the staff on a daily basis.
“I’m pushing them all the time and there’s a reason I’m pushing them is for days like this.
FIELD OF DREAMS…Ange Postecoglou with the League Cup in the aftermath of another glorious success.
“There’s no point talking beyond today and not letting them enjoy what they’ve achieved because I’m going to ask them to go again come Tuesday when we’re back in training.’
“So, for them to come back into the building and again put in an effort, I need to let them enjoy and get rewarded because they deserve it.
“That’s what they’ll do and once we’ve enjoyed it and celebrated it in the right and proper manner, then come Tuesday we’ll focus on St Mirren away.
“That’s a tough game against a tough opponent at a tough venue and that’s what our focus will be.”