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‘Pressure? I eat it up for breakfast, mate’: Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou’s approach to title-chasing tension

© Alan Harvey / SNS GroupAnge Postecoglou and Old Firm adversary Giovanni van Bronckhorst at Hampden last Sunday
Ange Postecoglou and Old Firm adversary Giovanni van Bronckhorst at Hampden last Sunday

Ange Postecoglou insists his tongue is not in his cheek when he says he eats up pressure for breakfast.

Plenty of managers on both sides of the Old Firm divide have found the intensity of life in charge of one of Glasgow’s two giants just too much to handle.

Tony Mowbray, to give just one example, appeared to age visibly as the Hoops crashed under his charge in 2009-10.

Of course, others have taken it in their stride. The late Walter Smith in his stints with Rangers gave a fair impression of a man born to the role.

Where Postecoglou has been different – close to unique, in fact – is that he appears to really relish the pressure-cooker environment.

“I eat it up for breakfast, mate,” said the Hoops boss, happy to confirm the suspicion.

“No, seriously I enjoy it. It’s why I love what I do.

“If you know what the outcome’s going to be, I wouldn’t enjoy what I do.

“The adrenaline of that fine line between success and failure is what excites me.

“We could have won the Scottish Cup semi-final against Rangers last week. It could have gone our way.

“But that’s the beauty of the sport. I don’t see it as pressure. This is the bit I love.

“That probably tells you about me as a person. But I love going into a game with it all on the line.

“Potentially, you could end up with something fantastic, or come out of it bitterly disappointed.

“I enjoy that.”

To be fair, the Celtic job is not the Australian’s first rodeo.

Five years ago, he led his country through a nerve-jangling World Cup play-off against Syria.

The teams drew 1-1 home and away before Tim Cahill clinched it for the Socceroos in extra time, before seeing off Honduras to qualify for Russia 2018.

© SNS Group
Ross County boss Malky Mackay and Livi counterpart David Martindale deserve to be contenders for Manager of the Year, says Postecoglou (Pic: Mark Scates / SNS Group)

“Those were big moments, but again I enjoyed them. I’ve been lucky that most of those moments have gone my way,” said Postecoglou.

“If they hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here – I wouldn’t have a career.

“What you do on a daily basis gets you into positions where it’s a big game with a lot at stake.

“If you’re lucky, you end up on the positive side of it. And that then fuels you to go again because you want that feeling again.

“You want to go into another big game, with big consequences. You want to win it because you know how it will make you feel, along with the players, the staff and, most importantly, the supporters.

“That’s what drives me, wanting to create these moments.

“From the outside, maybe people see it as pressure. But for me, I just see it as an opportunity to do something special.

“Listen, I’m under no illusions. I know that our supporters see this as very important.

“We understand we have a responsibility and there are massive consequences if you’re not successful. So there’s perspective to that.

“But there are a lot of people out there who have to deal with far more difficult things than I do on a weekly basis.”

The 56-year-old is quick to stress he knows he is far from the only football manager dealing with a high-stress environment, with candidates for the Manager of the Year springing easily to his mind.

“Malky Mackay (manager of today’s opponents Ross County) has done a brilliant job, for example,” he said

“He’s not only improved their results, he has them into the top six playing good football.

“Davie Martindale and Robbie Neilson have also done brilliant jobs at Livingston and Hearts respectively. Gio van Bronckhorst at Rangers has done a good job, too.

“Everyone who’s survived has done a good job – because quite a few of them haven’t!”