Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou deserves free pass for hugely difficult UCL campaign
First off, I have to admit that I hate the fact new Celtic managers have to through tough UCL qualifiers immediately.
They’re the kind of games that can make or break momentum. However, nobody will have had it harder than Ange Postecoglou in some time.
Brendan Rodgers and Neil Lennon both had relatively routine Champions League qualifiers during their time here. Rodgers faced the likes of Hapoel Be’er Sheva and Astana when he reached the playoff round. Lennon came up against Cluj and Ferencvaros and failed to beat them. A sign that no tie in Europe is a gimmie.
But what both of those managers had that Postecoglou won’t is access via the Champions route. The new boss will have to attempt to qualify through the more difficult league route. This means Celtic could come up against more teams from stronger leagues than they may have done had they won the title last season.
For example, our first Champions League qualifying tie is against Midtjylland. That’s a hugely challenging foe to come up against in the second qualifying round, even if they’re beatable. Not to mention the likes of Benfica, Shakhtar Donetsk, and Monaco all enter in the third qualifying round.
Celtic have a much more difficult UCL task this season
For any new Celtic manager, this would be extremely tough. However, for someone such as Postecoglou, who arrives with major question marks over his experience, it’s important we defend him as much as possible.
We all want Celtic to qualify, but given the standard of team we could face, it’s no disgrace if we fail. But it will be made out to be a disaster by some who will want to put immediate pressure on Postecoglou. It will be dressed up by some quarters as his first failure in what is to be a season full of them.
Unnecessary stick will be thrown the Greek-Australian’s way despite the fact the challenge ahead of us is a pretty grand one. As supporters, the new boss deserves a free pass in these fixtures.
Not just because he’s entering his first job in Europe or because he’s arriving from the other side of the world. But Postecoglou has the biggest Celtic rebuild on his hands since the 90s. The overhaul needed for the playing squad is as big as I can remember, and his team won’t even be complete nevermind settled by the time these matches kick off.
We need to keep cool heads this season. Yes, there is doubt regarding Postecgolou’s ability to manage in this environment. That makes it all the more important that any criticism that comes his way is valid. Missing out on the UCL this year, so long as a strong fight is put forward, is hardly embarrassing given the opposition we’re up against.
So let’s not blow the qualifiers out of proportion. Making Europe’s top competition would be a massive bonus this season, and it’s important we don’t forget that.