Ange Postecoglou ready to make big Celtic calls as Odsonne Edouard, Kristoffer Ajer, Leigh Griffiths and coaching staff discussed
Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou has stressed he will have full autonomy in the club’s football department.
Questions have been raised over the retention of John Kennedy and Gavin Strachan in coaching roles following the ruinous campaign that cost Neil Lennon his job, the lack of clarity over appointing a director of football and absence of any new arrivals either behind the scenes or among the playing pool
In his first major media duties following his appointment a fortnight ago, the 55-year-old suggested he was comfortable with the direction of travel, intimating his demand to be across all facets within his domain was fully understood by his new employers.
“The club’s been supportive about that, whether that’s a director of football, a sporting director, sports science, we’ll make the best decisions to support the environment that I know we need to have to be successful,” Postecoglou said. “Coming from football on that side of the world, where people don’t rate it very highly, I can tell you in terms of high-performance environments we’re as good as anyone. We have to be, because our football isn’t as good. So, I’ll be bringing that here as well as the football element.
“If you look at my history, I’ve usually ended up working with people who already exist within the club. Why would I dispense with valuable knowledge or experience? This club has had a great deal of success in recent times, but again, I’m prepared to look wherever it may be to make sure I have the best people. That’s all I’ve ever done. I love to know everything and I love to control everything, but what I’ve learnt over time is that if you get the best people around you, all those kinds of things take care of themselves. Whoever that person may be, they may be inside the club they may be outside the club, they’ll be around if they can help us.”
Postecoglou said he has yet to discuss with expected departees Odsonne Edouard and Kristoffer Ajer whether they could be persuaded to think again on their desires to move. He did not appear to rule out Edouard, in particular, seeing out the final year of his deal instead of being sold for in the region of £15million this summer; a potentially judicious move with a Champions League second qualifying round tie with FC Midtjylland only three-and-a-half weeks away and the Premiership winners almost certain to gain direct access to the £30m bounty of the competition’s group stages.
“I’ll protect the club’s interests,” he said. “So, if that means players don’t want to be here, then they don’t want to be here. I think some players may have a change of heart if they see a different environment, and they might see something that motivates them to continue with the club. Others might feel that it’s not for them. I’m comfortable either way. But I won’t compromise the club’s interests in that.”
Postecoglou did not downplay the pressing new for a raft of new recruits. “The clock is ticking for us,” he said. ‘We are working hard, everyone in the club is working hard. We’ve people in mind, people I think will help us. People I think will play the football that I want us to play. [But] it’s not an easy environment to bring players in at the moment for a number of reasons.”
The Celtic manager gave another clear indication that controversy-magnet and gifted finisher Leigh Griffiths will be retained. The club are understood to be working on new terms to replace those in the contract that has run down for the striker, whose conditioning has been a source of constant conjecture as he has been ever-more sparingly deployed.
‘We are having discussions with Leigh,” he said. “I look at his background and he has had a fantastic career as a goalscorer. I have had a good chat to him and will continue having chats with him. But, again, he has to embrace the direction the club is going in. This is not a one-way conversation.
“It’s not just about the player wanting to be at the club. It’s also about the club wanting the player to be in that environment. He has to embrace the values, the way we want to train and the way we want to be as representatives of this football club. If there is an alignment there, whether it’s Leigh or any other footballer, then great.”