ANGE Postecoglou may never have experienced an Old Firm game as a spectator never mind as a player or a coach, but the Celtic manager is certainly no stranger to the dubious delights of a must-win derby.

Postecoglou spent the majority of his playing career with South Melbourne and first moved into the dugout there. He was involved in numerous encounters with Melbourne Knights in both capacities. They were invariably full-blooded affairs.

He moved on and worked for Brisbane Roar and Yokohama F Marinos over the years. Their rivalries with Sydney FC and Kawasaki Frontale respectively may not be local. But to those involved, not least their fans, victory is massive. 

The Greek-Australian acknowledges the match with Rangers at Ibrox this afternoon will be, due to history, the enmity, the audience, on an entirely different level to those aforementioned fixtures. He understands the outcome will mean everything to millions around the globe. 

Still, he believes he will be able to draw on the lessons he learned from the grudge games he has sampled in the past and is certain he will, win, lose or draw today, benefit both professionally and personally from his participation.

“I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in a number of games that hold that kind of significance and you take something away from all of them,” he said as he looked ahead to the cinch Premiership game in Govan at noon.

“The experience, the build-up, it’s all part of it. And you come out of the other side, usually, with the knowledge that you have added to the person you are. Because as human beings these experiences shape us. 

“These games were all unique and have different things attached to them. Does it prepare you for this particular derby? Probably not. Each derby is unique and this one is definitely unique. 

“It’s one of the biggest fixtures in global football so I am looking forward to that experience and I am sure I will come out the other side enhanced as a person.” 

Postecoglou added: “As coaches we can say: ‘It’s only one game of football, it’s only three points, you don’t get extra’. That’s true as a coach or manager. But it’s not lost on me that this means more than three points to our supporters.

“I know what this will mean if we can get a victory. Particularly away from home. I know what it will mean to our supporters but even for our players it is a big game and there is extra significance. 

“As much as managers want to take a calculated view and say that we won’t get carried away if we are successful and not get too down if we lose, it’s a fixture that means a lot to the people at this football club and you carry that responsibility into the game.”

It will be fascinating to see how effective “Angeball”, as the high-risk attacking football that Postecoglou has introduced since arriving in Glasgow this summer, is against Rangers at Ibrox after kick-off at noon.

Going forward, Celtic have been a delight to watch in the last few weeks. They have created an abundance of chances and converted their fair share of them. Defensively, though, they have not always convinced.

Against AZ Alkmaar in the second leg of the Europa League play-off in the Netherlands on Thursday evening their fans witnessed both the good and the bad; they took the lead through a well-worked goal from Kyogo Furuhashi in the third minute and then promptly gifted their hosts two soft goals after mistakes by Joe Hart and Carl Starfelt.

How will they fare against the Scottish champions away? Their manager is entering unknown territory. But he hopeful his style of play will be perfectly suited to the harum-scarum nature of the Old Firm.

“I set up my teams to play that way because you know that in the big games there is inevitably an extra energy,” he said. “Whether that is generated by the significance of the fixture or the crowd, the pace tends to be pretty frenetic at the start. 

“If you get used to that on a daily basis then you are more likely to be able to perform in these matches. It’s not a major adjustment.

“We talked about that on Thursday night, that the first 20 minutes AZ were going to come at us and we needed to start well. And we did. We started brilliantly. We played our football, scored our goal and created chances. 

“Unfortunately, we made a couple of mistakes and we saw how quickly momentum shifts in that scenario. We expect the pace, tempo and intensity to be high on Sunday, but that’s the football we want to play. If we go into that environment and do that we will come out stronger for sure.” 

Confidence within his Celtic squad is steadily growing after a shaky start – they were beaten by Midtjylland of Denmark in Champions League qualifying and lost their opening Premiership game to Hearts away – to Postecoglou’s reign.

The 56-year-old thinks that that beating Rangers – who won the Premiership by 25 points last term and will have all 45,000 fans in the stadium behind them – will increase their self-belief further.

“From the fixture’s point of view and its significance around the world it would be great to have two sets of supporters there just for the picture that emanates, to show how important this derby is to the city,” he said.  

“We go in there knowing it is not going to be a friendly environment. We know we are going to have the whole stadium up against us and we have got to rise to that challenge and try to overcome whatever impediments that puts in front of us in terms of how we play our football. 

“That’s a fantastic incentive for us. Because we know if we come through that to the other side it will give us strength moving forward. We want to be successful of course but just going there, playing our football in that kind of environment is going to make us stronger. 

“And while they won’t be in the stadium there will definitely be millions who will be backing the boys on Sunday. They won’t be walking out there alone, that’s for sure.”