Hibs boss Lee Johnson backs down after Ange Postecoglou Celtic response

By John McGinley

April 1, 2023

Hibernian manager Lee Johnson has insisted he has “nothing but respect” for Celtic and Ange Postecoglou after the Bhoys boss called out his use of language with regard to the Australian’s role.

Johnson said, earlier in the week, when talking about the difficulties of his own job [The Scotsman]: “I really enjoy it here and enjoy – I suppose – the struggle. There is joy in that struggle. If I was Ange, I’m thinking to myself at what point does it get too easy, almost? I know that sounds bad, but you know generally if your boys are on it; listen – top manager, top club, top way of working, top philosophy but their challenge would feel like Europe and competing in the Champions League.”

That prompted a bit of a blast from the Bhoys boss in today’s written press, with Postecoglou adamant he would never use a word like ‘easy’ to describe the work of another manager because of the sacrifices involved. He then suggested language such as this may be being used as a ‘deliberate’ tactic.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The manager was again making it clear that the success coming his and Celtic’s way right now is fully earned with dedication and graft, rather it being a stroll in the park.

Speaking after Hibs were beaten 3-1 by Motherwell today, Johnson suggested he hadn’t taken Postecoglou’s response too well, but conceded ground, pleaded innocence and insisted no ill will was meant with his comments.

The Hibs man told reporters [The Scotsman]: “I saw that. It didn’t sit well with me but I don’t know how it was framed to him. That was not the intention or the tone. But we all know how a nibble can be traduced by the wrong context. I have nothing but respect for Celtic, Ange Postecoglou and everyone else. But maybe he’s used it as a bit of a sharpener for his own team.”

Based on what the Celtic boss said, I’m not sure Postecoglou was too bothered about the context in which the comments were made originally. His grievance was that using generalisations to say his, or any other manager’s job, is easy isn’t taking into the reality of his day-to-day job – even with the most power in the division.

While Johnson may feel it was a comment in passing and not intended to rile, the Celtic boss doesn’t have much tolerance for assumptions about the work he does or how he thinks about it. And I say fair play to that – words matter!

In other news, German legend Jurgen Klinsmann planning Celtic Lennoxtown trip.