Ange Postecoglou views key Celtic man in different light than board-hating supporters

New permanent Celtic CEO Michael Nicholson (centre) has been praised by first-team manager Ange Postecoglou. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)New permanent Celtic CEO Michael Nicholson (centre) has been praised by first-team manager Ange Postecoglou. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
New permanent Celtic CEO Michael Nicholson (centre) has been praised by first-team manager Ange Postecoglou. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
The veneration of Ange Postecoglou by the Celtic support has been underpinned by one crucial factor.

As far as the club faithful have been concerned, the Australian has avoided a single jarring word in his public pronouncements. Notably, he has avoided direct criticism of fans’ groups over the variety of protests staged across his six-month tenure: whether the standard bating of a board for which many have a crazed, pathological hatred, or the powerbrokers’ proposed - now shelved - plans to appoint assistant chief constable Bernard Higgins to a senior security role.

Now, though, Postecoglou appears willing to say things that the Celtic board-haters among his own fanbase are unlikely to relish hearing. The permanence last week accorded to the status of Michael Nicholson as chief executive had these bashers claiming a yes-man to major shareholder Dermot Desmond had been placed in charge in the unassuming 45-year-old. Postecoglou, who knows the Glaswegian as those calling him out do not, presents Nicholson in a different fashion. The lifelong supporter, and a season ticket holder for many years before he joined the club from law firm Harper Macleod in 2013, is a man that the 56-year-old believes won’t be easily manipulated. Instead, he sees him as someone who will act in the club’s interests while remaining true to his own values. Attributes that Postecoglou even dares suggest will win over the support.

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“I don’t want to speak on his behalf [but] when he needs to be, he’s got real firm views on what is best for this football club. And he won’t be shy in saying them,” said the Celtic manager of Nicholson. “But I think the main thing about anyone in a key role is just to be yourself. To be authentic and I think people will appreciate that. That’s what Michael is.

“He loves this football club, he wants the best for it. He’s been here for quite a while, he’s seen a lot of success, he worked through the challenges of last year, he’s been involved in this, so he’s seen the full spectrum of what this football club is and that experience is brilliant for him to take forward. He’s very much his own man and he will do it his way. But supporters will appreciate that because the main thing about him is that he will do what is right by this club.”

Postecoglou gives the impression that Nicholson has proved someone who it has been straightforward to develop a healthy working relationship - the bond between manager and chief executive the most important in any football club.

“Having already been working with Michael, I am delighted for him, first of all [over his permanent appointment]. He’s worked for the club for a while and for his whole family it is obviously a massive role when you are the CEO of Celtic Football Club. From the moment I was appointed, I have worked very closely with him. I think there is a bit of synergy there with the way Michael thinks and the way that I think. So I am pleased to have him on board and I think he is going to be fantastic for the club.

“Whatever vision I have for the club and the kind of team that I want us to be, that has to be supported. I cannot do it on my own. No manager can do it on their own. We rely on other people in the club in key roles such as Michael or [finance director] Chris MacKay and others to get these deals done and support my vision. If we are not aligned, or if there is a difference of opinion there, it can make my job awfully hard. From the moment I arrived, even though Michael wasn’t CEO, he was involved in a lot of deals when we got players in. I really felt comfortable working with him, really supported by him and that’s crucial for us.”

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