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Criticism of Rangers defeat reinforces Celtic standards – Ange Postecoglou
Celtic suffered a semi-final defeat to their Old Firm rivals in the Scottish Cup.
Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou welcomed the fact that criticism followed their Hampden defeat by Rangers – as it reinforces the demands and standards at the club.
But he vowed not to let any external analysis affect him or his players as they look to brush off their Scottish Cup defeat and consolidate their lead at the top of the cinch Premiership.
Celtic were favourites ahead of the semi-final following consecutive derby wins in the league and the fact that Rangers had played 120 minutes against Braga less than three days earlier.
But Gers came from behind to win in extra-time and scupper Celtic fans’ treble hopes.
The defeat had the likes of former Celtic midfielder Kris Commons questioning how Postecoglou’s team did not look the fitter and stronger side when they had more time to prepare for the game.
And the former Australia head coach accepts such scrutiny is going to come.
“I’m not surprised,” he said ahead of Sunday’s visit to face Ross County. “It’s only natural, logical and understandable. We are under no illusions that people will feel OK after losing a semi-final against our biggest rivals.
“I think it’s a healthy thing because that’s what maintains your standards at this football club. You know people have the highest expectations and they want to be successful.
“That’s fine, but that doesn’t mean I have to react to that. My role is to steer people through what’s important to us in the short term.
“What I do know is that come Sunday all the supporters are going to be behind us 100 per cent.
“In terms of people who are assessing our performance from a critical standpoint, they have every right to pick us apart and do what they feel is necessary in terms of appraisal.
“But it doesn’t affect me and it shouldn’t affect the players because the only feedback they should really think about is mine and no-one is as honest about that as me when it comes to the way we are performing.”
Postecoglou has tried to keep a balanced reaction inside the club’s Lennoxtown training complex.
“It’s the same as every other week, we analyse our performance and then move on pretty quickly because we have another game coming up,” he said.
“I understand the result was disappointing, but ultimately in the league nothing really changes. We have five games to go and every game will be a unique challenge that we have to be ready for.
“I have felt all along that every setback we have had, and we have had quite a few of them, the players rose to the challenge. I didn’t sense within the group that there was any hangover from the result when we got back into training.
“They are disappointed, of course they are disappointed, everyone was disappointed. But at the same time they understand that what needs to happen after a result like that is you put your energy in a positive way to the next game.
“I haven’t felt the need to lift them up or sensed a change. They have been a determined and resilient group all year and that’s what I have continued to see.
“That’s what you rely on, you create an environment where the players embrace the challenges that are ahead. We have had challenges all along.”
Former Rangers skipper Barry Ferguson claimed the defeat would raise questions over whether Celtic had the “bottle” to recover and see out their title charge.
Postecoglou, whose side had been unbeaten in their previous 33 domestic games, said: “If we had one loss in this run, the league would be really tight. The players have been under that sort of pressure since round six or seven.
“We have tried to create an environment where they block out all that stuff and focus on what’s important, and that’s the performances in these next five games.
“Our resilience has been there all year and when you go into this part of the season, you have to rely on the environment that you have created will overcome any extra pressures.”
Josip Juranovic will miss the Dingwall trip after going off with a knock at Hampden, but Giorgos Giakoumakis is available again after a hamstring strain.
On the Croatia full-back’s fitness, Postecoglou said: “It’s hard to say, the injury hasn’t settled down yet, but it’s fair to say (he will be out for) at least a couple of weeks. After that we are just going to have to see how it goes.”