THOSE who hailed Ange Postecoglou as some sort of Antipodean Pep Guardiola after watching his expensively-assembled Celtic side batter Dundee, St Mirren and Hearts at Parkhead this month were, despite the undoubted quality of the displays, getting just a little carried away.

Yes, Callum McGregor and his team mates were a delight to watch in those outings. It was little wonder their free-flowing, attacking and entertaining football lifted the mood of fans who were at an all-time low after a dire and trophyless campaign. There was good reason for them to be encouraged.

But there would have been something badly wrong if they had not won those fixtures and won them comfortably. They have vastly superior resources to their opponents. They also had home advantage. Tens of thousands of their season ticket holders were roaring them on. No travelling supporters were present despite lockdown restrictions being eased.

There is always a hysterical overreaction to any emphatic victory that Celtic or Rangers record. And the same is equally true in the wake of a reverse.

So anyone who is lambasting Postecoglou and his players following the Old Firm defeat to Rangers at Ibrox yesterday – and a fair few followers of the victors have written both off in the aftermath of the Scottish champions’ narrow 1-0 triumph - perhaps needs to calm down a little.

The result was certainly bitterly disappointing for the Greek-Australian. Still, the snipers who have gleefully declared that “Angeball”, as the style of play the new manager has introduced has been dubbed, is burst may be, like the shot Odsonne Edouard had in the first-half, wide of target.

Celtic were every bit as good as their hosts for long spells. They arguably created the better scoring chances. There would have been a different outcome if Edouard or Kyogo Furuhashi had capitalised on the opportunities they had to net. A draw would by no means have flattered them.

It was certainly a vast improvement on their performances in the world-famous fixture last season. They lost four and drew just one of their encounters with their age-old adversaries. Considering it was Postecoglou’s first experience of the game, taking into account that his preparations were not exactly ideal and bearing in mind none of their fans were present, it actually augurs well for the future. 

Yes, Calvin Bassey, Allan McGregor, Jon McLaughlin, Nathan Patterson and James Tavernier were all out along with their manager Steven Gerrard after a coronavirus outbreak in the Rangers squad last week.  But Celtic were unable to field James Forrest, James McCarthy and Greg Taylor as well. Right back Josip Juranovic, who had only arrived in this country days before, played at left back. 

Furuhashi, who had scored seven goals in his first eight appearances in this country, was deployed wide on the left due to the lack of options available to his manager there. The Japanese forward did rather well and played a couple of killer balls into the six yard box which deserved to have been buried. He was far more effective when he was moved into his preferred position through the middle.

But Postecoglou will learn. He was at pains to point out afterwards that his first couple of months in Scotland had been tough going. He has been working around the clock with recruitment staff to strengthen before the close of the window. There has been constant speculation over the likes of Ryan Christie and Edouard.

He will, then, breathe a sigh of relief when the window closes tomorrow night and he knows exactly who and what he has at his disposal. The 56-year-old to focus fully on coaching his charges on the training field now. Celtic can and will improve further.

The former Yokohama F Marinos manager gave an indication of what he has been contending with since arriving here when he was asked how he felt Juranovic had fared at Ibrox yesterday.

“It has been that kind of month where we are throwing guys in,” he said. “He got thrown in today. He went in at left back and he is a right back. I thought with his experience he would be able to handle it okay. He did okay. It will help him adjust.”

The Croatian internationalist will, along with fellow new boys like Liel Abada, Furuhashi, Joe Hart and Carl Starfelt, benefit from the runout and be better for it in future.

Still, Celtic must still improve at the back if they are to reclaim the cinch Premiership from their city rivals come May, lift the Premier Sports Cup and Scottish Cup and enjoy a good European run.

Postecoglou is always unconcerned after defensive lapses if his side has won. But against Hearts last month they were defeated by a late goal at a free-kick. Against AZ Alkmaar last midweek they received a battering, conceded two needless goals and were lucky to progress. And against Rangers they conceded at yet another set piece yesterday and lost as a result.

The rearguard has been put together hastily and needs time to settle and gel. But having steel is just as important as playing silky soccer in Scotland. They must show that they have the mettle to grind out a result in adversity if they are to live up to early expectations.