The career trajectory of Celtic's Ange Postecoglou to strike fear into rest of cinch Premiership

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou’s coaching career has followed a pattern that is entitled to fill cinch Premiership opponents with dread.

The Australian maintains it isn’t a given that a serene close season - in contrast to the “chaotic and frenetic” period as he signed up a team of players in his opening months last summer - “doesn’t guarantee we’ll be ready to go” as his team open up the defence of their title at home to Aberdeen on Sunday. Yet historical precedents from the 56-year-old’s eminent trackside career give every indication Celtic will crank their game up from the level that proved good enough to claim them the championship. Starting with his first managerial post at South Melbourne a quarter of a century ago, Postecoglou has always really hit paydirt in his second season with clubs. That was when he won the Premiership and Championship with Melbourne, achieved this feat with Brisbane Roar in 2010-11 and the stage at which he ended Yokahama F. Marinos’ 15 year wait for a league crown – with one of the lowest budgets in the top flight of the Japanese set-up.

Laurels are never rested upon by the Australian and he has already firmly moved on from remarkable title triumph he presided over last season. “Sunday[’s flag day] is more of a symbolic thing for the club to celebrate last season’s achievement with our fans and acknowledge that success,” the Celtic manager said. “But, in realistic terms, that line was drawn by us on day one of pre-season. We came back in and everyone was ready to go again, looking ahead rather than back. What I try to do with every environment I’ve been in is to try and create something that will surpass anything that has happened before. So when I took over last year, the expectation for that year was to be the best team we could be and see where that took us. It’s the same this year. It’s not about us coming back as champions, or having more pressure and expectation. My goal and ambition is to make us the best team we can be. And if we achieve that and become better than last year and perform at higher levels, then we’ll see what comes with it. You can’t let other things derail you from that primary objective.”

Postecoglou revealed that he hopes to have Carl Starfelt “available for selection” next week, with the Swede given the all-clear to begin full training following his hamstring injury on international duty in June. Yosuke Ideguchi is expected to be out for a couple of weeks after sustaining a “nasty” gash in training. Meanwhile, in expecting player “comings and goings” in the last month of the window, he intimated that Mikey Johnston will head out on loan, with the injury-beset winger linked with a move to Standard Liege, where his former Celtic manager Ronny Deila took up the reins last month. “He’s one of the ones I’m keen to get out there and get some games,” Postecoglou said of the 23-year-old. “He’s been really unfortunate with injuries, but this pre-season, he hasn’t missed a session and he’s been great. But he’s at an age where I think he needs a strong season behind him. He’s going to get limited opportunities here, so we are working with Mikey to try and find a solution for that.”

Ange Postecoglou watches iintently during Celtic's Friday training session at Lennoxtown. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
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