To many among the fanbase, it is inconceivable that the person cultivating football operations could ever be given authority to decide which flowers grow and which are pruned in all patches of the Celtic garden. Ange Postecoglou has done his utmost to enlighten that he is indeed such a man, but seems to have to reiterate the point constantly. There is a bloody-mindedness about the 56-year-old that ensures he would never be a patsy, and it has become wholly apparent, for instance, that a director of football/sporting director role at Celtic – which sections of the support demanded as a modernising trigger – doesn’t exist because Postecolgou doesn’t want one. Likewise, he didn’t arrive from Japan with a battery of coaching confreres – or indeed any – because he is sufficiently sure of himself not to require that form of footballing security blanket, as opposed to such being denied to him.
In now patently picking transfer targets and bringing in backroom staff, the club are giving the vastly-experienced Australian his head. He is at pains to stress the synergy between both parties – note both – over that as he dovetails with chief executive Michael Nicholson. “There’s a lot of language going around but things don’t get done unless people are working effectively. I’m not just trying to paint a rosy picture here,” he said. “I was working with Michael on transfers in the summer when he was very involved. The key thing for me is the club are supporting my vision for the club, and as a manager that’s what you need. I’m the one the responsibility lies with in the football department. The buck stops with me.
“My best chance of success is if the club supports my vision and that’s what the club is doing. Michael has been very good about making sure the plans I want to put in place are slowly getting there. It’s not a short term thing. We want to build a really strong foundation for the club on and off the field. For that to happen there is no chance I can do it on my own. I need good people around me and Michael leads that. It’s an important relationship because I don’t have the money to do it. My bank account is nowhere near big enough to do the business I’ve been doing...
“Like every manager around the world, we don’t work in isolation. We are part of a bigger organisation. It’s not just Michael, it’s the whole football club. It needs to generate revenue and funds, our supporters are important for me to do the work I do. It’s absolutely essential, you can’t do it without having strong relationships. It’s not just Michael, I have good relationships with all departments because we are all one. It’s not separate entities that just come together on a match day. We are all working together for the same goal.”
And, essentially, working for Postecoglou, rapidly emerging as a Celtic uber-manager in the mould of Martin O’Neill or Brendan Rodgers. Two men, as with the Australian, who had been comprehensively shaping football clubs long before they pitched up in Glasgow’s east end. ‘It’s fair to say I’m a bit old school,” he said. “When I started, I was pretty much doing everything – but, back then, most managers were I guess, 25 years ago. I guess it’s just my nature, I like to have control of things that I’m going to be responsible for. And I’ve worked that way through my whole career. I didn’t explicitly say that was the way I wanted to work. But I kind of guessed the club were well aware of me and what strengths I have. They wouldn’t have brought me in if they didn’t think I would fit into what they wanted to do here.
"I am a person who likes to take control. Because I’m going to be responsible for it. There won’t be anyone else sitting front and centre if things don’t go well. If things do go well, we all share in the success. But if they don’t go well, people won’t have to go far to find out where the buck stops. It stops with me. Because that’s the case, and that’s the way I want it to be, I like to have control over a lot of things and share my vision. But, again, it’s not me working on my own. I don’t want people thinking I’m doing everything here, far from it. Obviously it’s my vision and, from day one, I said the most important thing, coming into the football club on my own, was that people believed in me. Not so much what I was going to do. If people believe in me as a person, whatever vision I have, they’ll support. And it’s been like that so far.”