Celtic manager says Leigh can win back Griffiths fans after being booed over police investigation

Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou insists Leigh Griffiths can win over fans with good showings as he was booed by a Parkhead squad against West Ham after being acquitted by police over charges of sending inappropriate messages to two schoolgirls

  • Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths was investigated by Police Scotland this week
  • He was acquitted after claiming he sent inappropriate messages to two schoolgirls
  • Griffiths was booed by Celtic fans during Bhoys’ 6-2 loss to West Ham
  • Ange Postecoglou has challenged his striker to win back his own supporters

Ange Postecoglou told Leigh Griffiths he must work to win back the Celtic fans after he was booed by some of them in the 6-2 friendly defeat to West Ham at Parkhead.

The Hoops boss made 10 substitutions in one go in the second half and 30-year-old striker Griffiths, recently acquitted by police on charges of sending inappropriate messages to two schoolgirls, provoked a negative response.

Police Scotland said it had established ‘no crime’ after conducting a ‘full assessment’ of claims that Griffiths had exchanged inappropriate messages with a 15-year-old girl and another teenage girl on social media.

Some supporters then found out about the striker, who recently signed a new one-year extension with the Parkhead club, and he caused a stir in the stands every time he got the ball.

Asked if he was confident the Scotland international could win over the fans, boss Postecoglou said: “It’s because of Leigh and his performances.

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou says Leigh Griffiths must win back his own fans after being acquitted by police over charges of sending inappropriate messages to two schoolgirls

Some Celtic fans chased the forward when he played in Celtic's 6-2 defeat to West Ham

Some Celtic fans chased the forward when he played in Celtic’s 6-2 defeat to West Ham

“If he works hard in training and produces the kind of football he can, by scoring goals, I’m sure the crowd will support him.

“I’m not going to tell the Celtic fans anything. They’ve been following this club for much longer than I have here. My job is to make a team that they are proud of and we disappointed them today.

“Maybe it’s a big challenge for him, but that’s what he wanted. He had a choice, he didn’t have to come back.

“He wanted to come back and play for the club again. He wanted to contribute. When you make that decision, you embrace everything that comes with it.’

Postecoglou (second from left) challenged the striker to put in a good performance again

Postecoglou (second from left) challenged the striker to put in a good performance again

It was a punishing afternoon for Celtic for the second leg of their Champions League qualifier against Midtjylland on Wednesday, following Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at Parkhead.

Hoops skipper Callum McGregor curled the opener in the seventh minute before Hammers striker Mikhail Antonio scored a quick-fire double and captain Mark Noble scored from the penalty spot.

Ryan Christie withdrew a goal five minutes after half-time, but goals from Said Benrahma, Jarrod Bowen and substitute Armstrong Okoflex, who was taken over from Celtic this summer, added further to the deficit.

The former Australia manager, who revealed missing striker Albian Ajeti was ‘knocked a bit’ and midfielder Olivier Ntcham ‘just wasn’t ready’, has been outspoken about the defeat but still believes Celtic can go on against the Danes.

It was a tough afternoon for Postecoglou (above) whose side was thrashed on Saturday

It was a tough afternoon for Postecoglou (above) whose side was thrashed on Saturday

He said: ‘It was disappointing because there were some positive things in it. But there were also parts of our game that were bad.

‘And against a good quality opponent you will be punished. Collectively, we have failed to do our duty defensively. We moved forward and showed a willingness to play our football. But you have to match that with the other side of the game.

“This result makes no difference to my confidence for Wednesday. We knew it would be a tough challenge to get there. We saw in the first leg that we played well, but it was still an exciting game. It will be the same in the second leg.”

Michail Antonio (left) was one of the goalscorers for the Premier League side in Glasgow

Michail Antonio (left) was one of the goalscorers for the Premier League side in Glasgow

West Ham boss David Moyes, a former Celtic defender, was delighted to see Antonio on the scoresheet.

He said: “Michail hadn’t scored in a few games and I think he was a little worried about that. He was through on the keeper at the start and probably should have gotten another one.’

Moyes also warned 19-year-old Irish winger Okoflex not to get too carried away with his goal against his former club.

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