Aberdeen v Celtic: The uncomfortable parallels between 'two baldies fighting over a comb'

You can nitpick - if you will - about who has succumbed more acutely in the slap-head stakes between Aberdeen and Celtic.

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou during the 4-0 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

What cannot be escaped, though, is that their potentially hair-raising encounter at Pittodrie on Sunday has acquired the feel of two baldies fighting over a comb. And, should the contest between the failing pair produce a decisive result, the hackles will be raised to a wholly-frightening degree among the supporters of the vanquished.

Not so very long ago, any meeting between the two clubs was guaranteed to be a joust between two of the league’s leading teams. Match weekend eight in the cinch Premiership of this season is altogether different in finding them in dramatically reduced circumstances. Just how reduced is betrayed by the fact the prize on offer for a winner between Ange Postecoglou’s seventh-placed side and a Stephen Glass team presently lying eighth would be - woopy-doo - a place in the top six as the top flight breaks for an international fortnight.

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There are decidedly uncomfortable parallels between the two clubs. Both are helmed by left-field appointments celebrated by their fanbases for, as much as anything else, seeming so far removed from permanent predecessors Neil Lennon and Derek McInnes. Two men laterly treated with contempt by their own followers at Celtic and Aberdeen, respectively, as the need for them to make way despite impressive earlier returns became apparent.

Aberdeen boss Stephen Glass is without a win in eight. (Photo by Sammy Turner / SNS Group)

The faithful of both teams absolutely lapped up that both Postecolgou and Glass provided mission statements proclaiming their teams would succeed by being high pressing, high tempo, attacking and entertaining. They might yet make good on these lofty aims. Right now, though, the water levels are lapping the duo’s necks as they are weighed down by truly awful sequences. Form that would have had Lennon and McInnes torpedoed by invective from all sections of their fanbases.

Postecoglou is finding himself unable to turn around the previously-listing Celtic tanker through the club enduring their poorest first seven-game record in the league since 1998-99. Then Josef Venglos’ side had accumulated a paltry nine points. Postecoglou has 10. However, the Australian is the first Celtic manager to have lost his initial three away matches in a championship, eh, ever. Across all competitions, five defeats have been the product of their six encounters on the road. And, with the 4-0 thumping by Bayer Leverksuen in the Europa League on Thursday they have only two wins from their previous eight matches – achieved against Ross County and Raith Rovers.

Meanwhile, the good ship Glass appears to be going down with all hands on deck. The Pittodrie men are enduring their worst form slump since between January and March 2010 in failing to post a win in eight outings - a downturn that began with their ousting from the League Cup by the aforementioned Raith Rovers. They haven’t recorded a clean sheet in 11 games and have a solitary such duck egg across their 14 encounters this season.

It is truly miserable stuff for both Postecoglou and Glass, but the Aberdeen man is entitled to be more concerned than his Celtic counterpart at what has befallen his team over the past six weeks. While the 56-year-old former Australia boss only pitched up in the summer ahead of requiring to redraw his squad top to bottom, and back to front - as he had successfully in at least four previous postings during a near three-decade coaching career - Glass has been in situ at Pittodrie since March. Mind you, that means the 45-year-old’s frontline coaching experience in Scotland is approaching the sum total of what had come before it - a six-month spell as interim head coach of Atlanta United last year that was sandwiched between him taking charge of effectively the American club’s reserves.

Disgruntled Aberdeen supporters are now becoming more voiciferous over certain unarguable facts. Principal among these is that Glass would not have been considered for the role he occupies at Pittodrie by any other Scottish Premiership club in owing his rapid career elevation, pure and simply, to personal links to Atlanta-based club chairman Dave Cormack.

Glass has appeared to become increasingly testy in media duties, just as Postecoglou has had a couple of nips this week. A sign of the pressure building on both, the comfort for the Celtic manager that cannot be shared by his Aberdeen counterpart is that his team do have an identity, and have hit sweet spots even more recently. On a budget five times that of his opponents on Sunday, he has recruited a clutch of signings in such as now fit-again buzzbomb Kyogo Furuhashi, Joe Hart, Jota and Liel Abada who appear powerful additions. In dominating possession without making that count - Aberdeen, meet your friends, Celtic - iconic former Parkhead captain Scott Brown has found himself able to keep games ticking over in midfield for Glass’s team but struggling for out-balls. As the Pittodrie defence has creaked - Aberdeen, meet your friends, Celtic - the beacons of hope have been home-grown full-backs Calvin Ramsay, a truly thrilling prodigy on the right, and Jack McKenzie. But in the desire to flood forward, the high starting positions for the pair have created spaces in behind that are leaving the backline vulnerable - Aberdeen, meet your….ach, you get the drift.

Something seems as if it has to give for either Aberdeen or Celtic in Scottish football’s famous northern outpost on Sunday, but we are forever guilty of hastily predicting pivotal moments. The two clubs have invested too much time, energy and resources in Postecoglou and Glass to lose patience in these early months of their first full campaigns - irrespective of these already displaying the sort of disfigurement capable of sending even archetypal Bond villains into therapy. Nothing will come to a head this weekend, then. Regardless of how bare any bonce may be.

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