The Australian’s name was chanted in defiance and appreciation by the Celtic Park denizens across the closing minutes after the home team had gone toe-to-toe with the holders for the first hour before succumbing. But for Postecoglou that acclaim wasn’t a source of pride but instead provides the fuel for ensuring his team can be on the right side of the “small margins” in such an arena – starting with next Wednesday’s Warsaw assignment against a Shakhtar Dontesk side that thumped Leipzig 4-1 in Germany.
“I just feel the responsibility of bringing this football club to this level. That’s what these fans deserve,” he said. “There is no starker reminder of that than the reception they gave us after the game. They deserve to see their football club competing with the likes of Real Madrid on a regular basis, and really competing. I feel that responsibility and I want to get us up to this level so that this club and these fans get what they deserve. For us as a team, you don’t need a reminder that it’s fine margins when you’re playing against the best. And when you have opportunities you need to take them. That was evident today. If we scored the first goal and put pressure on them then they would have needed to open up. We could then have taken control. And we had those chances. It’s different if you don’t have the chances and you don’t create anything, if the opposition have got you pinned back. Then there is stuff you can learn. But I think what we learned today we already knew. We’ve just got to be really clinical in both boxes.
“All of us [the players and me as manager] want to compete at the highest level. And we want success. There is no other way to feel but disappointed. It wasn’t through a lack of effort, commitment or belief. The boys gave everything they could, but if you want to bridge the gap you have to be disappointed with a night like this and make sure you come back stronger next time.”
Postecoglou was asked whether he felt optimistic that gap could be bridged as early as next week. “I feel determined, not optimistic. I feel that responsibility. I want us to be a Champions League football club. For that to happen we have got to come out next week in a game that again is going to be a tough game, with fine margins, and be clinical in those kind of areas. It is not about being optimistic or pessimistic about it, it is about being determined to bridge that gap.”