FOR all the romantic notions that surround the concept of football being played the ‘Celtic way’, some of the club’s most memorable results have been achieved through pragmatism. Hardly anyone who saw their team topple Barcelona back in 2012 remembers that they had around 20 percent of the ball, after all.

Current manager Ange Postecoglou has designs on bringing such famous European nights back to Celtic Park, but he will be doing it his own way. Which just so happens to be the way that is most associated with the traditions of Celtic, if not always their most famous conquests.

For Postecoglou, it doesn’t matter if the opponent is Barcelona, tonight’s Europa League qualifying rivals AZ Alkmaar, or Raith Rovers on League Cup duty next month. His team will be playing his way, and the results will fall as they may.

“I’m not critical of [playing pragmatically],” Postecoglou said. “That’s still brought some special moments.

“That is one way of doing it. There are fantastic examples around the world where managers and their clubs have taken that approach. It’s just not my approach.

“I’d rather play Barcelona and try to out-possess them and outscore them than not. If you do that and you lose 5-0, people will say ‘why didn’t you play more pragmatically?’ But it’s just not the way I’m wired.

“I'd rather go down swinging than hope to stay on my feet. It’s just my philosophy. There is no right or wrong way of doing it but I do think that certain clubs have certain values.

“If you look back at this football club, the greatest successes have been built on teams that had belief, entertainers, guys who were prepared to play without fear, and I love that aspect of the game.

“The most important [thing] for me is the football. I just want everyone talking about the football we are playing. They are starting to and if we keep doing that the success we have will be great, and for everyone to share, but I want it to be success built on something special.

“I want people talking about the football we are playing - that still to me is the primary target. Because wherever I’ve been and I’ve done that, the rest of it has sort of cascaded into it.”

Much is to be admired from Postecoglou’s adherence to the principles of football purism, even if such stubborn devotion to offensive style over defensive substance led to some painful defeats – and no shortage of criticism – for Brendan Rodgers on the European stage while he was in charge of the club.

It is perhaps the one blot on Rodgers’ Celtic record, apart from his hasty exit, that he didn’t adapt his style to suit European competition, even though he twice took Celtic to the group stages of the Champions League.

Would Postecoglou consider his own philosophy to be that of a purist, above all else?

“It is purist in my terminology, but I’m sure there are plenty of people that have different opinions of what a football purist is and how football should be played,” he said. “And I love that about the game.

“It is one of those where you can play so many different ways and have success. But this for me is the football I love to watch. I see other teams playing aggressive, attacking football , they are games I switch on and watch. They are the football teams I want to produce.

“What the terminology is around that, that’s for others to judge. But I’ve yet to meet a group of supporters or a group of players who don’t enjoy scoring goals, and creating fantastic moments. That’s why I concentrate on that style of football.

“The key thing for me is that people believe in me. And I don’t say that in an egotistical way. Whatever message I’m trying to give, whatever I’m trying to do, it won’t happen unless people believe in me. That’s the first thing you’ve got to do.

“That’s what I’ve found in management. The players, the staff, the supporters, everyone associated with the football club, they need to know me and believe in me.

“If they have a belief in me, I’m able to do what I can. If it fails, then of course the responsibility falls on my shoulders. I certainly accept that. I’m hoping that supporters, our players and everyone involved believe in me and what I’m about.

“I’m going to take us down this road and I believe it will take us to success. There is no guarantee, but unless people believe in something to start with, you can never even attempt to go down a road like this.”

The next stop in this journey Celtic are taking under Postecoglou is tonight’s meeting with AZ Alkmaar. With the Dutch providing inspiration for Postecoglou's style of play, it may well be a fitting test of where his side are.

“Even historically, in Australian football there has been a Dutch influence, "he said. "Guus Hiddink took us to the World Cup in 2006 and since then we’ve seen people from Holland and the Netherlands acknowledging us. 

“My origins are I was a massive fan of Johan Cruyff, massive fan of that Ajax team, and my father was.

"That sort-of led me to look at the aesthetics of football, rather than just the end result. I’ve always admired and been intrigued by it because ultimately we know that results are what matters in football.

"So having this thought process that maybe what it looks like is just as important as the result has always intrigued me. It’s finding that balance between creating something that’s beautiful to the eye but also brings you success. Because otherwise you are just one of these unemployed, destitute artists that admires their own work but don’t make a living.”

Europa League group stage football is the reward for the victors in this tie, and while that may seem a modest goal amid the backdrop of Celtic’s past achievements on the continent, in the current context, it would represent an important step in Postecoglou’s aim to restore some respect to their name in Europe.

“It’s definitely a motivation,” he said.

“It’s why you come to a football club like this. You have that opportunity to repair or uphold the traditions of this football club. The traditions and values are that this football club has always made an impact in Europe, one way or another. That’s the opportunity that has been given to me and it’s definitely a motivation for sure.

“Long after I’m gone, hopefully I have made an impact at this fantastic football club. That’s what we all want to do. If you’re a manager, you want to do things that hopefully outlast your own tenure. “That’s the opportunity in Europe.”