McManus unveils plans for fortress Celtic

By Lisa Gray
Sunday 23 October 2011 06:41

The Celtic defender Stephen McManus believes Parkhead must be turned into a fortress if the Hoops are to reach the knock-out phase of the Champions' League for the first time.

A Kenny Miller penalty allowed the Hoops to pick up their first points of the group stages with a 1-0 victory over Copenhagen on home territory. The Glasgow outfit knew a win was crucial after losing their opener against Manchester United at Old Trafford a fortnight ago.

With two victories under their belt already, United are the clear favourites to top Group F, but Celtic have real aspirations of beating Copenhagen and Benfica to second place. And they know that could depend on whether they can ensure all their visitors leave Celtic Park empty-handed. McManus said: "It was a massive win for us. Obviously, in the Champions' League, you want to try and pick up three points at home in every game."

McManus and Gary Caldwell restricted Copenhagen to very few chances on goal but the 24-year-old insists they still have plenty to learn in the Champions' League. McManus said: "We are doing all right at the moment, but we are not going to get carried away. Gary and myself are both young lads but we are willing to learn. Gary has come in and been first class. We are looking to the future and we will keep working hard for the team because there is always room for improvement."

The win follows Saturday's Old Firm triumph and the Celtic manager Gordon Strachan believes the 2-0 victory over rivals Rangers helped play a part in their success over Copenhagen.

He said: "It was a big night for us. We are a new group and the Old Firm result made us stronger. People talk about how you make team spirit - is it golf days or going out drinking together? That doesn't count. When you drink, you just tell lies to each other anyway and talk rubbish. Nights like that, when you are in the dressing room together, that is what builds up team spirit."

Strachan was thrilled that the skill of Celtic triumphed over the physical strength of the Danes on Tuesday. He said: "We were excellent in the first half. They are a big side, so we knew we could not get involved in the physical stuff, we had to move the ball quickly. We did that well and they could not make the game physical. In the second half, our use of the ball further up the field was poor, which allowed them to get it back and make the game physical. But they did not really make a chance to be honest."

Strachan felt Celtic could have enjoyed a more comfortable scoreline had the referee spotted a couple of Michael Gravgaard challenges on McManus in the box. "There could have been two penalties. The first one was incredible and the second one was just a sheer push in the back."

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