Ange Postecoglou greatest Celtic challenge might also be his biggest asset as major obstacles block path to good start

New Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou facing a challenging first few months. (Photo by Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images)New Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou facing a challenging first few months. (Photo by Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images)
New Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou facing a challenging first few months. (Photo by Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images)
The biggest issue with Ange Postecoglou, now confirmed as Celtic manager, is not that he was largely unknown to most in these parts merely a fortnight ago.

It is not that the 55-year-old Greek-Australian’s array of successes in the coaching sphere - too numerous not to command appreciation, as the many glowing testimonials to him have illustrated - have only come in his homeland and Japan. It is not that his solitary sojourn into European football, with third tier Greek club Panachaiki 12 years ago, ended after a mere 10 months. It is that he isn’t Eddie Howe.

A support so long excited about their club recruiting one of the bright young things of the British management game to drag their club from the mire plunged into following a catastrophic season have instead, following Howe’s last-gasp jilting, had foisted on them a random, rushed, poor second choice. As they see it.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Oddly, though, the biggest plus of Postecoglou might also be that he is not Howe. Celtic’s powerbrokers initial instincts on all matters across the past 12 months have proved hideously flawed. Holding on to unsettled players Odsonne Edouard and Kristoffer Ajer last summer... their transfer activity in that period...clinging on to an all-at-sea Neil Lennon beyond November...the disastrous Dubai trip...the waiting for Howe on a promise. The Celtic board, headed up by major shareholder Dermot Desmond and out-going chief executive Peter Lawwell, seemed unable to do right for wrong.

Maybe, just maybe, that was about to extend to bringing on board a Howe clearly something of a reluctant conscript; with an unassuming manner that could have engendered a frazzling in the white-hot Glasgow environment. Postecoglou might not have been the man that they, or the club’s fanbase, originally wanted. He could, though, be precisely the sort of man they need - big in stature, personality and unshakeable convictions over fizzing, front-foot attacking football in Celtic’s best traditions. While Howe ultimately slinked away from the febrile world of the Scottish game, Postecoglou has bounded towards it, rubbing his hands and with chest puffed out.

That said, the obstacles blocking the path to prosperity for the 19th man to hold the position of Celtic manager on a permanent basis ought to frighten the wits out of him. The club is at its lowest ebb for two decades following Rangers’ romp to the championship by 25 points. It is fewer than seven weeks until Celtic contest the opening leg of their third round Champions League qualifier. With their previous reliance of loan players no longer in their fold and doubts surrounding the immediate futures of Leigh Griffiths, Edouard and Ajer, even a skeleton XI would be difficult to construct. When it comes to the striking department, central defence and the full-back roles - to say nothing of the goalkeeping issues - having merely the bare bones is likely to require a raft of signings. There is little precedent for new arrivals coming good in opening European sorties with which Celtic begin their season…The Champions League might then be a write-off. If that proves the case then Postecoglou, however unfairly, will immediately be on the back-foot - even if this is where he demands his teams never find themselves.

Read More
Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou makes Kenny Dalglish poster admission as he pledges...

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers. If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.