Ange Postecoglou reflects on 500 days in charge of Celtic - 'we all have a ticking clock against us'

It’s difficult to credit the reaction to the news that Ange Postecoglou was the new manager of Celtic – certainly in view of the impact he has enjoyed since.

There was plenty of Ange who? comment when the news was announced on 10 June 2021. And while the chief executive who appointed him, Dominic McKay, lasted only another few months in situ, Postecoglou has gone from strength to strength after some initially faltering first steps in Scotland.

He’s now routinely mentioned in connection with mid-ranking English Premier League manager jobs whenever they become available, the latest being at Aston Villa following the sacking of Steven Gerrard, his old adversary across Glasgow.

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This weekend marks 500 days since Postecoglou’s appointment. It seems appropriate that he should mark the milestone by heading back to Tynecastle, the ground where it seemed reasonable to wonder if he might make it to 100 days in charge.

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou casts an eye over training ahead of the trip to Hearts (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group).

A 2-1 defeat to Hearts in his first league game last August was an unpromising start, although it did feature a late cameo from Kyogo Furuhashi. The Japanese striker has become such an emblem of what is now known as Angeball.

The Australian has certainly stamped his identity as he prepares to return to Tynecastle. His side sit on top of the Scottish Premiership, where they have spent the majority of the time since January. Celtic hope to stretch their lead over Rangers to five points, with the Ibrox side playing later in the afternoon against Livingston.

“Sometimes it feels like 500 minutes and other times it feels like 500 days depending on where we are at,” reflected Postecoglou when he was alerted to the significance of today.

“Look, I’ve enjoyed every day of it. There hasn’t been a day where I haven’t enjoyed being in the role. From my perspective, when you are not counting the days, it probably means you are enjoying what you are doing and you are still passionate about what you have embarked on.”

Gerrard’s short shelf life at Villa Park is a reminder of the anxieties involved for managers. It’s not even been a year since Gerrard walked out on Rangers. His next step in management is now unclear.

Postecolgou can rely on some stability and the support of the Celtic hierarchy. But this impression could be proved illusory as soon as a bad run comes along. The current Champions League campaign has already proved challenging. However, the manager is still thinking of the long term, whether he is here or not.

“I was well aware coming in when I did after an unsuccessful year that, like every manager, we all have a clock ticking against us,” he said. “It’s just how long people will give us time to build what we want.

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“I was conscious that I had to do things pretty quickly and I wanted to do them quickly, but at the same time, you can’t rush things. You have to get decisions right.

“I think we are building some really good foundations for what we want to do for the next phase. Again, I enjoy that part of the role. The initial stages, the building. I am pleased we were able to deliver in our first year and the plan is that, hopefully, we can deliver more in the year coming.”

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