Ange Postecoglou calls for Old Firm game to be free of big VAR delays | Celtic
Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou has brought in match officials for the first Old Firm game of 2023 to ensure VAR delays do not disrupt the marquee game.
The arrival of VAR in the Scottish Premiership – it was first used in matches in October – has, perhaps unsurprisingly, sparked controversy. Postecoglou was unfazed by the introduction of technology but, like countless managers, he has since become frustrated when it comes to making decisions. Monday’s Glasgow derby at Ibrox will bring intense focus to every refereeing decision.
“I hope so,” Postecoglou said when asked if he wanted the game to go smoothly. “I’m sure the authorities and officials are well aware of the magnitude of the game and the eyes that will be on the game. The last thing we all want is to stand and stare at an individual with his hand on his ear for too long. This is not what people around the world will want to watch. If mistakes are made in terms of decisions, I think we can deal with them, but in the end, what we want to see is a good game of football.
Celtic cruise through town in high spirits thanks to a run of 12 Premiership wins. Postecoglou’s side are nine points and 20 goals ahead of Rangers. If Celtic avoided defeat, it would be difficult to imagine anything other than retaining the title. So this looks like the perfect opportunity for Kyogo Furuhashi, Celtic’s Japanese striker, to break his duck in Old Firm games. Postecoglou bridles at any suggestion Kyogo, who has 15 goals this season, has dropped his standards but the fact remains the fans are waiting for his impact against Rangers.
“All I know is that from the moment he arrived the guy did nothing but score goals and cause headaches for opposing teams,” Postecoglou said. “I don’t understand this ‘lean period’ thing. Maybe he set the bar high when he started, but there was never a time when I felt he struggled with form or confidence or impact because his impact goes beyond the goals he scores. But if you simply measure it on the objectives? I would like to see his goals-per-minute ratio and see who is up to it.
“He dislocated his shoulder at the start of the last game we played against them. He missed a few games against them due to injury. But that’s irrelevant to him. He’ll want to make an impact in every game he plays and that’s what he’s going to be looking to do. I don’t think he needs to prove himself, internally anyway. If there are people outside who have still question marks about him, that’s for others. But internally we know what he can do and what he brings to every game. I’m sure he’s looking forward to it He likes to play in the big games, he won a cup final for us last season, so there’s no doubt he likes the big stage and can deliver.
This will be Michael Beale’s first Old Firm derby as Rangers manager. The hosts won four out of four games under the former QPR manager but largely failed to convince, by Beale’s own admission. He also insisted that Rangers would not change their approach against a rampant Celtic side. Postecoglou will not deviate from its standard plan either.
“It’s a big game, we are in good shape and we want to continue in this good shape,” said Postecoglou. “We want to play well. Why should the difference in points on the table make a difference for us? It didn’t make a difference for us last year when we were late, I can tell you that. So it’s definitely not going to make a difference to us now. If you start dictating how you’re going to prepare for a game based on where you are in terms of the roster and your form, you’re kind of missing the opportunity to prepare for what’s to come. It does not matter.”
Celtic have paid tribute to their former striker Frank McGarvey, who died on New Year’s Day aged 66 after a battle with cancer. McGarvey, a Scottish international, scored over 100 goals in five years at Celtic Park in the 1980s.