AZ Alkmaar boss states other managers would be jealous of his players ahead of Celtic clash

By Euan Davidson

August 14, 2021

AZ Alkmaar boss Pascal Jansen has made a bold claim about his players ahead of meeting Celtic at Paradise on Wednesday.

The Alkmaar manager, who led his side to third in last year’s Eredivisie, has enjoyed a sharp upturn in his reputation. Hired in December 2020 after previous boss Arne Slot was rumbled for secret talks with Feyenoord, he didn’t expect to land the job at all [Sky Sports].

That doesn’t mean he’s the meek or humble type. Despite losing £35m worth of talent to Ligue 1 sides this summer, Jansen remains bullish about the quality in his squad.

Myron Boadu, Calvin Stengs and Marco Bizot all departed Alkmaar this summer, to Monaco, Nice and Brest, respectively [Transfermarkt].

That’s a lot of talent to lose in a short time-frame. Jansen, though, believes he has more than sufficient quality to overcome the Green and White obstacle between them and the Europa League group stages.

Jansen said [via Daily Record]:

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“We need to find new players to replace them, but over the years that’s what AZ have shown to be very good at.

“Last week I was able to use 20 players in a pre-season friendly – players which many a manager would be jealous of having in their team.

“We remain an ambitious club – we want to have a good run in Europe and our aim is a top four place in the league, same as it always is.

“There will be pressure that comes with those aims, but we thrive on that.”

Quite the pep talk from AZ Alkmaar boss ahead of Celtic tie

Normally, we like to quip that, of course a manager is going to big up his players. Especially ahead of big games.

Even then, though. This is high praise indeed from the rookie coach. Interestingly, Jansen is the son of Sue Chaloner, of 70s pop act Spooky and Sue. You can hear Swingin’ on a Star, which actually kind of bangs, here.

Photo by Lukas Schulze/Bongarts/Getty Images

That performer’s confidence has clearly followed down the lineage. Saying his players are good is one thing, but saying “other managers are jealous of what we have here” is quite another.

Despite losing some big names, AZ Alkmaar remain quite the threat to our chances of qualification. Owen Wijndal and Teun Koopmeiners are valuable, quality players, at just 21 and 23. Across the squad, there’s some solid experience, including Bruno Martins Indi, brought in from Stoke City.

Yukinari Sugawara represents real quality in the right-back slot, with one cap for Japan thus far.

So, actually, he’s right. The popstar’s son has a lot of quality at his disposal, and the transfer business so far shows that other managers are watching AZ Alkmaar with interest.

Celtic have overcome tougher tests, however. Far from being star-struck, there’s plenty of quality in this Bhoys team, as recent thumping wins have shown.

It’s going to be a fascinating contest; a real marker of where Celtic are now, and how close we are to being competitive on the European stage.

In other news: Who we think will start tomorrow against Hearts

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