Ange Postecoglou’s dietary habits may cause a little indigestion for the Celtic support. Joking that he eats pressure “up for breakfast” the Greek-Australian has had no need to reach for the Alka-Seltzer in the aftermath of a week in which his side suffered their first domestic defeat in 34 games. 

As a result there is a scrutiny in how Celtic respond as they head to Dingwall this afternoon. Rangers’ passage into the semi-final of the Europa League and their William Hill Scottish Cup date at Celtic’s expense has contributed to a narrative that the fizz has gone out of the Parkhead side’s form.

Asked how he dealt with the pressure in a week in which there has been ample noise around the Hampden loss and a cranking up ahead of the final five league games of the season, Postecoglou was expansive in the perverse enjoyment he draws when all is at stake. 

“I eat it up for breakfast, mate,” he said. “No, seriously I enjoy it. It’s why I love what I do. If you know what the outcome’s going to be, I wouldn’t enjoy what I do. The adrenaline of that fine line between success and failure is what excites me.

“We could have won last week, it could have gone our way. But that’s the beauty of the sport. I don’t see it as pressure. This is the bit I love. That probably tells you about me as a person. But I love going into a game with it all on the line. Potentially you could end up with something fantastic or come out of it bitterly disappointed.” 

Celtic’s quest to reclaim the league title has been unaffected, superficially anyway, by the defeat to Rangers. But what is affected is perception of who is the dominant team going into the season’s finale. Postecoglou has repeatedly spoken of how he prepares teams to hit their stride in the final weeks, a philosophy that was notable given that at Hampden Celtic looked leggy for long spells in the game. 

Dingwall is not the most inviting scene for a return to action with Malky Mackay’s side capable of making life awkward for Celtic – as they did for 96 minutes back in December.  

“We’re in a strong position and even if we’d won last week, the challenge this weekend would still be the same. It’s now about us trying to continue our good form in the league against a top opponent away from home. If we perform at the level we have been, we’ll get three points. If we get them, we’ll be a step closer to achieving something special. 

“That’s what drives me, wanting to create these moments.  

“From the outside, maybe people see it as pressure. But for me, I just see it as an opportunity to do something special. For the fans of this football club it’s not just about the team winning or losing. 

“It’s a way of life for them so it dictates their whole week. We understand we have a responsibility and there are massive consequences if you’re not successful. 

“So there’s perspective to that. But there are a lot of people out there who have to deal with far more difficult things than I do on a weekly basis. 

“At the same time, we also carry the responsibility of representing this club.  I’m totally invested in that and what this club is about.” 

There is little time for projects at Celtic given the immediate need for a winning team. The challenge for any manager at the club is to evolve while still being successful, with Postecoglou’s remit to not only focus on the demand of a critical next month but also for the next transfer window opening. On that front one of his successes this term has been to show unambiguously that he can be trusted with recruitment. 

“The vision is still on track,” he said. “This is just year one. We’re nowhere near where I want us to be. That’s only natural because we’ve had to totally rebuild a squad of players. Whatever we do this season, my motivation is to make us a better team next year and the one beyond that.

“We’ve got a lot of improvement and many areas can still be stronger. What’s been important is that hopefully I’ve gained the trust from people inside and outside the club. When you gain that trust, it gives me the confidence to take us down the road I want us to go down. That’s in terms of the kind of team we want to be, how we want to play and the type of players we want to bring to the club. 

“Everyone is on the same page here and I’ve felt that since I got here. That’s always the most important factor, the people. If I’m working with the right people, it gives me the best opportunity to bring success to Celtic. I’m really happy in the role, I’ve enjoyed this season. It’s been a hell of a journey and challenge. I want us to finish strongly but I’ve got real encouragement that we can build something special together.”