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The modern game is awash with stats, analysis, facts and figures.
Some of this you’ll find interesting, some you won’t.
But the one metric that matters most in football – and always will – is the full time result.
In a game full of cliches, the term “It’s a results based business” is one you’ll here as often as any other.
And for good reason.
Ange Postecoglou’s long held philosophy in his 25+ years as a coach maintains that if you get the performance right, the results will follow.
And though that approach has seen the Australian achieve notable success throughout his illustrious career to date, he’s also wise enough to know that if the results don’t materialise then he too would be joining numerous other coaches across the globe in the search for new employment.
CELTIC’S WINNING PATTERN
In its simplest form, data analysts look for patterns which can then help to predict what the outcome of any future event may be.
I’m not a data analyst, not even close – but here’s a striking pattern for you.
In the near two seasons Ange Postecoglou has been Celtic Manager his side have responded with a win EVERY SINGLE TIME that they’ve either lost or drawn a domestic game.
Every. Single. Time.
To bounce back from defeat (or at least a “non-win”) at each and every time of asking is a phenomenal achievement.
Here’s how Ange Postecoglou’s side have done so.
2021/22 – DEBUT SEASON RESILIANCE
Let’s go back to that very first defeat at Tynecastle on Matchday 1 of last season.
Celtic’s side that night contained Scott Bain, Ismael Soro and Odsonne Edouard in the starting XI – how times have changed.
The result? A 2-1 defeat at the hand of Hearts.
It was a game which saw a wrongly disallowed Liel Abada goal, a first appearance in Hoops for Kyogo Furuhashi, but ultimately a disappointing opening day reverse for new manager Postecoglou.
A blistering 6-0 win over Dundee at Celtic Park, thanks in large to a Kyogo hat-trick.
On Matchday 4 we then fell short at Ibrox with Rangers running out 1-0 winners thanks to a Filip Helander header.
Celtic’s reply? A 3-0 win over Ross County thanks to a goal from Cameron Carter-Vickers and a double from Swiss hitman Albian Ajeti (remember him!).
Matchday 6 – a 1-0 loss to Livingston at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
Memorable for a different reason than you may think however as this would be the last time we’d lose a league game in the 2021/22 campaign.
Four days later we dispatched Raith Rovers in the League Cup Quarter Finals thanks to goals from Jota, Abada and Turnbull.
At Celtic Park on Matchday 7 we were held to a 1-1 draw by Dundee United meaning we had taken just 10 points from a possible 21 across our opening seven fixtures.
If we were looking for an indication of our new manager’s character and how he would respond however then we got exactly that with what we now know as a trademark Ange reply.
“It’s a weird league,” said Postecoglou.
“You call things early here, don’t you? It’s quite remarkable that seven games in people are calling the title already.
I’m not pulling up stumps after seven games just because other people seem to think there is some sort of insurmountable challenge out there for us.
I know people are wanting to push me on some kind of edge of the ledge somewhere. It’s just not going to happen.”
His side backed him up with a vital 2-1 win at Pittodrie in their next fixture with a late Jota goal sealing the points.
This result was unquestionably one of the most important of our 38 game league campaign and incredibly was our first away win in the league since February 2021.
We went on to draw five more times in the league. Here’s the quickfire summary of those results and of Celtic’s responses.
- Matchday 12. A 0-0 draw with Livingston at Celtic Park. Followed by a 4-2 win over Dundee at Dens Park.
- Matchday 19. A 0-0 draw with St Mirren in Paisley just three days before Christmas. Followed by a 3-1 win over St Johnstone in Perth on Boxing Day.
- Matchday 28. 0-0 with Hibs in Edinburgh. Followed by a 2-0 win over St Mirren at Celtic Park.
- Matchday 35. 1-1 with Rangers at Celtic Park in the final Glasgow Derby of the season. Followed by a 4-1 hammering of Hearts at Tynecastle.
- Matchday 37. Thursday 11th May 2022. Another draw, but this time one that we were all delighted by. A 1-1 draw with Dundee United at Tannadice which saw Ange Postecoglou lift the Scottish Premiership title at the first time of asking. Giorgos Giakoumakis was the hero on the night with a powerful header in the second half.
We then followed that up by rounding the season off with a 6-0 final day demolition of Motherwell at Celtic Park.
The biggest disappointment of last season’s domestic campaign of course came in the 2-1 extra-time defeat by Rangers in the Scottish Cup Semi-Final on April 17th. A tie which we’ll see repeated this coming weekend.
Ange’s side responded to that one with a 2-0 win over Ross County in the Highlands in what was the first game after the Top 6 split.
In total Celtic failed to win on ten occasions domestically in 2021/22 and replied with a win at each time of asking.
2022/23 – A Relentless Winning Machine
The current season is remarkable for the consistency that Celtic have shown so far.
In sharp contrast to our debut season under Ange we’ve failed to win in just three games so far.
With a maximum of seven games now remaining this stat in itself is highly impressive.
Our first dropped points (and only loss) of the season caught us all by surprise as we fell 2-0 to St Mirren in Paisley on Matchday 8.
In now familiar fashion however we responded with a win as goals from Kyogo and Hatate steered us to a 2-1 victory over Motherwell in our next fixture.
This was the first of an eleven game winning streak in the league.
On the 2nd of January Kyogo was again amongst the goals with his first strike against Rangers ensuring we took a point from the New Year Derby in a 2-2 draw.
We then got back to winning ways five days later with a 2-0 win over Kilmarnock at Celtic Park.
This was followed by a further 16 straight domestic wins as we equalled a record previously set by Brendan Rodgers’ side.
So What Next…?
Saturday’s stalemate with Motherwell saw the Steelmen take their place as one of only three sides to prevent a Celtic win this season so far.
In anticipation of how Celtic will reply in Sunday’s Scottish Cup Semi-Final however the pattern is now clear to see.
Twelve “non-wins” across two seasons for the Bhoys, all swiftly responded to with Celtic victories.
Should we expect to see anything different this weekend?
From the outside looking in it can be hard to say exactly why this Celtic side have been able to respond in such fashion.
Is it a case of renewed focus after minor complacency?
The law of averages for a side who have become a relentless winning machine?
Or even an old fashioned “rocket” from a manager who hates to lose?
In truth it could be a combination of all three.
One thing’s for sure though, the signs are ominous for a Ranger’s side now reeling from their second defeat in three games.
Not only do they have to beat the undisputed best side in the country, they also have to do something that no other side has been able to do in nearly two full seasons.
It doesn’t take a data expert to tell you that the probability of that doesn’t look likely for our Glasgow rivals.
Tune in to the latest episode of The Celtic Exchange Weekly as we discuss the above + One Win From The Title, An Unorthodox Approx To Set Pieces, 20 Years Since Larsson Sent Us To Seville & Much More!
Available wherever you get your podcasts, by clicking the player below, or here at The Celtic Exchange website.