CELTIC supporters have made it clear in recent years just how reviled they are by associations with Rangers, and the club have been at pains to distance themselves from their great rivals too.

The official Celtic Twitter feed has at times refused to even type their name, and despite holding a joint trademark for the term ‘Old Firm’, they now refer to one of the most famous fixtures in world football as the more vanilla ‘Glasgow Derby’.

So, perhaps it shouldn’t have been a surprise to hear Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou taking a swipe at Jim Goodwin – and others in the Scottish game, whether they be managers, players or the press – for lumping his own team in with Rangers when defending his ultra-defensive tactics against the champions last weekend.

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In fairness to Goodwin, what he was likely driving at was that after taking a chasing at Ibrox playing in an open fashion against a team stacked with better players than he has at his disposal, he felt it prudent not to do the same in a game against a team with arguably even better players than Rangers possess.

Granted, what followed bordered on the embarrassing for his team, and sparked outrage among his own supporters. And the key point? They still lost the game.

There was much made of Postecoglou’s comments on ‘lazy’ comparisons between his own team and Rangers, but what was also interesting was his refusal to criticise Goodwin – as many of his own fans had – for the way he actually set his team up.

The Celtic manager has always treated opposition managers, and their tactics, with respect, even when those tactics amount to the antithesis of his own beliefs on how the game should be played. But given Celtic have won all but one of their Premiership matches this season, might it be time for the managers of ‘the other 10’ to have a re-think over how they approach games against them? Stephen Robinson of St Mirren, obviously, excluded.

I’ve never been an advocate of chastising teams for sitting in and defending against Celtic, or indeed – with apologies to Postecoglou – Rangers. Celtic and Rangers have far greater resources, far superior players, and the responsibility of opposition managers is to get a result for their team, not entertain the huge crowds who follow the Glasgow clubs.

I have also heard musings on how long it will be before Postecoglou decides he is bored coming up against the same low block week-in, week-out and decides to move on, as if that was in any way the problem of their opponents.

It would often be amusing in the past to hear smaller clubs being barracked about negative tactics by fans – and sometimes managers – of the big two, before witnessing that club then adopt similarly cagey approaches when coming up against European opposition, who in turn often had vastly greater resources than Celtic or Rangers. Such ironies were often lost on them.

No such charge could be laid at the door of Postecoglou though, who copped some criticism of his own this season precisely because he refused to bend his principles, and sent his players out against Real Madrid, RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk in exactly the same way he would as against Ross County, Livingston or Motherwell.

For that, he was accused of naivety in some quarters. But his point was that yes, his team might take some chasings in the process – as they did – but come next time around at that level, they might just have taken on some lessons from those matches too.

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Celtic will never bridge the financial gap that exists between them and the clubs in the top five leagues, but Postecoglou’s theory is that they can develop their own players to compete at such a level by trying to play their football against a higher calibre of player.

It is an idea that could easily be scaled down to apply to the smaller clubs here going up against Celtic, and one that has turned around my own thinking on the issue somewhat.

It is of course the prerogative of every manager how he approaches such (mis)matches. Sit in, park the bus, and you might indeed scrape the odd draw against Celtic. Maybe even a win once in a while. But as the stats show, not often.

Open up and play, and you might take a few hidings. So what? In the longer term, there is surely more value in at least having something of a go, and allowing your own players to learn and potentially grow from the experience of going up against such opposition without resorting to simply defending your box for 90 minutes?

Would the Aberdeen fans not have been happier if their team at least attacked Celtic, even if they had lost 3-0? Would that have been more galling than not trying in any meaningful way to actually win it?

It was only when they did retreat into their own area in a much more competitive affair against Rangers on Tuesday night, in fact, that they lost control of the game and eventually the two stupendously late goals that turned their fans’ faces as red as their shirts. With equal parts embarrassment and rage.

It seems to me now that there is much more to be gained by managers going after Celtic and Rangers. You never know, you might just unsettle them, and your players might learn something along the way.

All you’ve got to lose is a match you were probably going to lose anyway.