The Scottish Mail on Sunday - 2021-11-21




By Graeme Croser AT HAMPDEN PARK

ANGE POSTECOGLOU last night dedicated Celtic’s Premier Sports Cup semi-final win over St Johnstone to the memory of Bertie Auld. A tense and emotional night at Hampden started with a round of applause for the late Lisbon Lion, who passed away last weekend at the age of 83. And it was effectively ended with James Forrest climbing from the substitutes’ bench to fire home the goal that has set up a December 19 final against the winner of today’s clash between Rangers and Hibernian. Still in the process of building his own side almost from scratch, Postecoglou (right) evoked Auld’s memory as he addressed his players in the dressing room. He said: ‘The tribute to Bertie is an important part of what this club is about. ‘The players wore the No10 on their shorts and I said to them after the game, we’re celebrating an immortal of this football club and the Scottish game. ‘But we also have to understand there’s some sadness there for the people who are closest to him and his family. I am hoping after that 90 minutes maybe they had a bit of a smile on their faces and felt better for a moment. ‘We thought about the great man and, hopefully, he was looking on from above. These things are important. ‘That’s what I mean by setting standards. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been here for five months or 10 years. We’re putting on a shirt that represents something, not just the football club, but the people who helped build Celtic — and Bertie was certainly one of them.’ Although Postecoglou took over a squad in need of overhaul after last season’s whitewash and subsequent exodus, the Australian acknowledges that he will not be given an extended period of time to create his own winning formula. And so he places great importance on next month’s final, which adds another element of stress and importance to an already packed pre and post-Christmas schedule He continued: ‘I’m determined to come back and win the trophy but it’s not about me personally. ‘I understood when I took this role that it’s the measure. Yes, I have a vision of how I want to play football and build a team. ‘But ultimately I knew the measure would be how quickly I can bring success to Celtic. ‘I’m not going to get two or three years to do that. When you join this club, you don’t get allowances because you happen to be new. ‘The expectations are that every year this club plays for silverware. The whole group must embrace that, myself included. ‘Yes, we are rebuilding and we’re at the beginning of that. But we also have a responsibility to uphold the standards of this club. ‘The players rose to that challenge today.’ Postecoglou reserved special praise for match-winner Forrest, who spent most of last season out injured — a struggle that has carried over into this campaign. ‘James has been through a lot,’ he added. ‘He hasn’t had a great start to the season and we’ve had to be patient to get his body right. ‘I knew once he was fit that he’s a quality, experienced player. He’s an international player and the way we play will suit him. ‘It was great for him to come on. Part of the reason we’re now on a good run is that we can put players on who make a difference. ‘Having that quality throughout the group is important. I’m pleased for James but the whole squad put a shift in today.’ Postecoglou acknowledged the role played by holders St Johnstone in last night’s game. Last term’s double cup winners were tenacious throughout and frustrated Celtic. ‘It was difficult not to try to force it but that’s what St Johnstone do to you,’ he admitted. ‘They make you do things you don’t want to do and make it uncomfortable. ‘Credit the players because, naturally, there’s an anxiety there when you feel like you should be creating more.’


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