The surprise former Rangers man in the frame for Celtic assistant role to Ange Postecoglou - but he isn’t the only candidate

The backroom team fashioned by Ange Postecoglou should the Australian become manager of Celtic, in the face of feverish opposition from sections of the club’s support, has the potential to spark further controversy.
Ange Postecoglou, left, could be joined at Celtic by Kevin Muscat, right.Ange Postecoglou, left, could be joined at Celtic by Kevin Muscat, right.
Ange Postecoglou, left, could be joined at Celtic by Kevin Muscat, right.

Sources in Postecoglou’s homeland have suggested to The Scotsman that the 55-year-old could look to bring one-time Rangers midfielder Kevin Muscat with him, while former Yokohama F Marinos assistant Arthur Papas has also been linked as a possible recruit to the recast Celtic coaching set-up.

Muscat, an infamously combative performer, has first-hand knowledge of the Glasgow scene courtesy of the season he spent in Scotland as a member of Alex McLeish’s treble-winning squad of 2002-03. The English-born Australian international, who also had spells with Wolves, Crystal Palace and Millwall, is even more well-versed in the ways of Postecoglou. The prospective Celtic manager was Muscat’s captain for a season with South Melbourne, before becoming assistant and then manager while Muscat remained a player in the set-up across the mid-1990s.

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Muscat was then assistant to Postecoglou at Melbourne Victory for the 2012-13 season. The 47-year-old stepped up to the frontline when Postecoglou left to become manager of the Australian national team. Muscat was six years in charge of Victory, leading them to two Championships, a Premiership and an FFA Cup, before he became one of the few Australian coaches to move into the European game. He did so initially as technical director of Belgian club St Truiden in January of last year. That was a consequence of the selfsame UEFA Pro Licence issues Celtic are currently seeking to iron out with the European governing body for Postecoglou to be allowed to be named their manager. Australia’s coaching Pro Licence is not recognised by UEFA as the equivalent to their highest qualification, required of all those in leading managerial positions within their jurisdiction. Muscat eventually was able to be named manager in July, but was gone from the club a mere six months later.

Papas, meanwhile, was Postecoglou’s assistant for two years at Yokohama, leaving his side in January for the opportunity to become his own man with Kagoshima United. Yet, following only eight games in charge, he vacated that post only last week. “Family reasons” were given for that sharp return home, and in recent days Australian media outlets have suggested he is being earmarked to take over with homeland club Newcastle Jets for next season. Now, though, with the timeline aligning to Celtic’s pursuit of Postecoglou following the failure to entice Eddie Howe, it is being speculated that Papas could instead have returned to Australia to get his affairs in order before making the move to Glasgow with his former compadre.

Postecoglou replaced Papas at Yokohama with fellow Australian and former Maltese international John Hutchinson. The 41-year-old is regarded as one of the up-and-coming coaches in his homeland and one that Postecoglou was considered keen to assist in his development. However, although there is an obvious link to the Celtic frontrunner, it is understood that Hutchinson would be unlikely to follow Postecoglou in the event of negotiations between the Parkhead side, Yokohama and UEFA being concluded successfully.

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