Ange Postecoglou remains convinced that Celtic will benefit from playing an attacking style of football should they return to the Champions League group stage next season.
The Scottish champions ended their disappointing European campaign with just two points and a goal difference of minus 11 after Jota curled home an inch-perfect free-kick in the heavy 5-1 defeat to Real Madrid for just their fourth goal in Group F.
Postecoglou received some criticism from ex-Republic of Ireland defender Richard Dunne, who claimed that, in order for Celtic to progress in Europe’s elite competition, they would have to soak up more pressure and prevent matches from turning into end-to-end “basketball games.”
However, the Hoops boss admits he won’t alter his approach. The Parkhead club had 82 attempts at goal over their six group games - more than teams such as Paris St Germain, Tottenham Hotspur and both Milan clubs. Yet Real Madrid’s ruthless finishing was in stark contrast to the visitors in the Bernabeu last night.
Postecoglou admitted: “It’s fair to say that the responsibility lies with me because we have taken a bold approach to try to make an impact. We have paid the price for not having the quality and clinical finishing at one end and the opposition taking advantage at the other.
“But the key for us, if we continue to play like this and continue to improve and we continually get to Champions League level, then I have no doubt that we will make an impact.
“For our guys it’s a new experience, everything feels a little bit faster, it feels like you need to hit it that little bit harder to beat a world-class goalkeeper. But eventually, I believe, if you keep putting yourself in that position you will find that the game doesn’t change, you can still finish at that level.”
Celtic had to make do withouth skipper Callum McGregor and Jota for several games, and were missing key central defender Cameron Carter-Vickers in the Spanish capital.
While disappointed for his players and the travelling fans, Postecoglou wasn’t too disheartened about the overall campaign and reckons their struggles in front of goal this season is rectifiable.
He added: “Our first job is to qualify but if we are in it next year then I have no doubt we will make more of an impact. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be a massive leap - but I don’t think it needs to be. Bridging that gap isn’t immense but it’s the most difficult bit to get because you’re talking about scoring goals at this level, it’s not the easiest thing to do.
“I’m just disappointed for the players and our fans because the players could have got more rewards, which feeds more belief. Because, if you’re consistently missing chances, where do you gain that belief? You have got to break it somehow. I’m disappointed we never got that.
“The away game against Shakhtar was a classic example, we had some great chances. If we win that game, score goals, you build belief. I think if you play like that every year, you gain more belief, you gain more trust in what we are doing, the players feel more like they belong at this level.
“We coud have lost 2-0 and created one or two chances and probably not looked as bad, but I just don’t think that’s the way forward, I don’t think that’s how you make an impact. We need to be a team that scores goals and be threatening against every opposition.
“I have no doubt that if we replicate these sort of numbers next year we will score more goals. And goals change games - if we score (the penalty) at 2-0 it puts a little more pressure on them and gives us more belief. In every game we have had those moments where you get that goal, a second... We Just haven’t had that, but I believe if we consistently do that at this level we will get there.”