ANGE POSTECOGLOU insists he “doesn’t pop the champagne corks when the defence has a clean sheet”.

It is evident the Celtic boss sees his priority at the other end of the pitch and the amount of goals his players can cram into their opponents’ net.

Once more, that will be the case against in the midday kick-off against Dundee United at Tannadice this afternoon.

The Greek-Australian didn’t look overly concerned when his rearguard leaked four goals in Europa League losses to Real Betis in Seville and Bayer Leverkusen at Parkhead while the Bundesliga outfit thrashed three past Joe Hart in the BayArena last month.

BE PREPARED…Joe Hart gets ready to face Motherwell at Fir Park in October as he goes through a pre-match routine with goalkeeper coach Steve Woods. The experienced No.1 had a shut-out in a 2-0 win.

The Hoops gaffer may even be surprised to learn his defence is the tightest in the Premiership having conceded just 10 goals in 14 games – and two of that total came in the opening league game of the season when the new manager was attempting to integrate recruits into his system with Carl Starfelt forced to play after just arriving a few days earlier following his £4.2million switch from Russian cracks Rubin Kazan.

The introduction of 34-year-old 75 times-capped England international keeper Hart in a £1million deal from Spurs has aided the cause considerably while his former London team-mate Cameron Carter-Vickers, who agreed a season-long loan move on deadline day, has played a major role, too.

The centre-back missed the 1-0 win over Hearts on Thursday night through “personal reasons”, but his back-four colleagues stepped up to the plate to deny the Edinburgh club.

Ahead of this afternoon’s encounter on Tayside, Postecoglou said: “People look at certain games and the times when we have conceded a number of goals have been against decent opposition in Europe.

AIR WE GO…a determined Cameron Carter-Vickers heads clear from ex-Celt Tony Watt.

SWEDE DREAMS…Carl Starfelt is settling into the Celtic rearguard.

“People measure it against that, but, overall, we have been pretty steady defensively.

“The thing that pleased me most about the Hearts game was the resilience the guys showed.

“If you look at our back-four at the end of the game, not one of them started the previous game in those same positions.

“Adam Montgomery, Carl Starfelt, Nir Bitton –who didn’t even play in the previous game – and Josip Juranovic was playing at right-back instead of left-back.

“So, we had to show real resilience and a mindset to keep the opposition out.

“For me, that’s the pleasing thing. We are reacting to these challenges really positively.

“We are not making excuses or allowances. We’re just getting on with it.”

THUMBS UP…Ange Postecoglou signals his satisfaction.

Reflecting on Starfelt’s Man of the Match display after five weeks out through injury, the Hoops gaffer, speaking to the Sunday Mail, added: “Carl is looking good and, for me, the most important thing isn’t about how they are when they come in – it’s about how they progress.

“We play differently from a lot of other teams and put different expectations on our players.

“Carl had it as tough as anyone. We threw him in without a pre-season, virtually without a training session, and asked him to play alongside guys he had never met before. He was unfairly judged in many respects.

“Since he has become accustomed to what we do, he has played really well, even before his injury.

“Carl and Cam have a really good relationship at the back, so we were really pleased to get him back in on Thursday night.

“I was concerned at how he would go for 90 minutes, but he finished the game strongly. I thought he was outstanding.”

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


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