ANGE POSTECOGLOU did not attempt to hide his disappointment as Celtic crashed out of their THIRD European tournament this season.
The Greek-Australian was clearly agitated following the 2-0 loss to Bodo/Glimt that saw the Hoops exit the European Conference League on an overwhelming 5-1 aggregate, trounced home and away.
And Postecoglou, who acknowledged his side had come nowhere achieving acceptable levels in both ties, allowed his obvious frustration to spill over when he snapped at a question from the Norwegian media.
Asked if he thought his side’s Nordic conquerors could go all the way and lift the trophy, the manager fired back: “Mate, come on. Ask their coach. Why do I care? Really. Do you think I really care who wins this tournament now? We’re not going to win it.
“They’re a good team, I hope they keep going well, but I couldn’t care less who wins the tournament.”
HEADING FOR THE EXIT…grim-faced Ange Postecoglou at the final whistle.
Postecoglou insisted his team had just delivered their two worst European performances of his reign as they failed to lay a glove on Bodo/Glimt and had Joe Hart to thank for making two excellent saves in the first-half to prevent the scoreline becoming even more embarrassing.
The gaffer said: “It was a disappointing night. I think it’s fair to say that, over the two games, we didn’t perform at the levels we needed to.
“We didn’t deserve to go through and Bodo deserved to win the tie. We have lacked a little bit of the intensity we need to bring to these games.
“We were still a bit too passive at the start and conceding the goal doesn’t help.
“Irrespective of that, our performance levels were not anywhere near where they should be over the two games. When that happens, you don’t progress.
“It’s not where I want to be. It’s where they have to be.
“We just didn’t perform. We have been pretty consistent this year in bringing a certain level of intensity and intent in our game and we haven’t for these two games.
GRIM AND BEAR IT…Ange Postecoglou interviewed after the game. Image courtesy Celtic TV.
“When you’re playing against good opposition in Europe, you get punished. That’s probably our two least effective performances in Europe this year.
“Even when we lost to Bayer Leverkusen 4-0, I still think we showed more intent than we have in these two games.
“If you’re at this football club, the expectation is that you do well in multiple competitions.
“You shouldn’t have to be unsuccessful to focus on something else. I think that’s a cop-out.
“We wanted to progress and we haven’t. That’s on to me. That’s my responsibility. We’ve got to improve.”
Postecoglou started the second leg tie with skipper Callum McGregor, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Josip Juranovic, Liel Abada and Filipe Jota on the substitutes’ bench.
UP…Daizen Maeda fires at goal with just keeper Joshua Smits to beat.
UP…Maeda watches as the keeper is stranded.
AND AWAY…the wayward ball flies harmlessly into the crowd.
He defended his choice for a starting line-up and emphasised it was his duty to protect players from burn-out, especially with a crucial Premiership encounter due against Shaun Maloney’s Hibs at Easter Road in Sunday’s High Noon shoot-out.
Postecoglou, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “It’s why we have a squad. We can’t compete in all these tournaments without it.
“We got through the first half of the year, but we just got through it because we had an enormous amount of injuries.
“We play at midday on Sunday and you know how late we are going to get back from Norway, after playing on an artificial pitch.
“If we expected players to back up in those two games, then I’m not doing my job in looking after the players in the right way.
“The team we put out there was good enough to play better than what we did and that’s the disappointing thing.
OVER THE TOP…Liel Abada, in front of Daizen Maeda, blazes a shot off target.
“But, at the same time, we have got to understand that’s why we brought players in, to make sure that we have a strong squad to compete.
”It’s not about being out of one tournament should make it easier in another. That’s not where our focus is.
“But that’s the next challenge for us on Sunday. I expect to go further in every competition.
“This year, Europe was a bit beyond us in terms of the levels we need to get to. It’s my responsibility to make sure we improve and next year perform better.”
Celtic’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League were over in July after a 3-2 aggregate defeat against the Danes of FC Midtjylland and two losses against Bayer Leverkusen contributed massively to the departure from the Europa League.
They completed the unwanted hat-trick in the Arctic Circle against a well-drilled team that proved to be more clinical over two legs.