Celtic may have swept aside Rangers with ease on Wednesday night but manager Ange Postecoglou is still looking for improvement.
A remarkably one-sided first half at Parkhead saw the Hoops storm into a 3-0 lead through a Reo Hatate double and a goal from Liel Abada – and it would have been even more emphatic had Gers keeper Allan McGregor not been in top form.
The Light Blues could not recover and the comprehensive victory leapfrogged Celtic one point ahead of the champions at the top of the cinch Premiership.
Postecoglou, on the day he was named cinch Premiership manager of the month for January – the second such award since he became Celtic manager in the summer – revealed a philosophy which appeared somewhat ominous.
He said: “We go into every game, whether that is Wednesday night or on Sunday, saying to the boys, ‘okay, the main objective will be to play our best game of the season today – let’s play better than we have played so far’.
“So you are not thinking about how we played in the last game, that it was good and we want to repeat that.
“We don’t want to repeat that, you want to improve on that.
“It doesn’t always work out like that, sometimes there is a dip in form, sometimes the opposition can stop you from playing at those levels but in terms of the intent, of course you want to improve.
“Matt O’Riley is three games into his Celtic career, Reo Hatate, Giorgos Giakoumakis – most of these guys are at the beginning of a new cycle, a new way of playing so there has to be improvement, we have to improve, absolutely.
“If we want to be a team we want to be, even for this year, if we want to be successful, we have to be better than we were the other night.”
Ahead of the trip to Motherwell on Sunday, the former Australia boss stressed there was still a long way to go in the title race.
He said: “We were delighted to win but pretty soon after the game the players went into recovery mode and got ready for the next challenge.
“The end goal was never to be on top in February, the end goal was to be on top when it counts.
“All Wednesday night did was push us a little bit close towards that goal but we are not there yet.
“There is nothing there to suggest mind-sets should change or approach should change.”
Postecoglou has Tom Rogic “back and ready to play” against Motherwell.
The midfielder missed the Hoops’ cinch Premiership matches against Hearts, Dundee United and Rangers due to international duty with Australia, where he played against Vietnam and Oman.
Asked if Rogic would get a break, Postecoglou said: “We don’t do breaks during the year, he will get a break at the end of the year like everyone else.
“He’s back and ready to play.”
The Hoops boss revealed no casualties from the game against Rangers with striker Daizen Maeda, who was on the bench and came on as a second-half substitute after returning from international duty with Japan, ready to start if required.
Postecoglou said: “Everyone is fine, no issues. We had a couple of little niggles going into it with the boys who were starting but they all got through it okay.
“We will obviously get back Nir Bitton who was suspended and Tommy Rogic is obviously available and Daizen Maeda is fully available, they are the main changes.”
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