Martin O'Neill on the Celtic "watershed" moment both he and Ange had at Parkhead
Martin O’Neill and Ange Postecoglou both belong to an exclusive club of Celtic managers.
When Martin O’Neill came to Celtic in 2000, it was after a season of Rangers dominance. The 99-00 season was a disaster for Celtic, with curious tactics and managerial decisions derailing the Bhoys as the new millennium dawned.
And when Ange Postecoglou arrived at Celtic Park, his was a gargantuan task, too. Like O’Neill, he had to turn around the prior season’s deficit – 25 points.
What both did was absolutely wallop Rangers at Celtic Park. That, Martin O’Neill says, is where the comparisons between the two managers are most striking.
O’Neill himself has reflected on the comparison with current Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou. He told Clyde 1 Superscoreboard: “A lot of people that I’ve spoken to – obviously mostly Celtic fans – have spoken about the comparisons.
“We had to turn around a 21-point deficit, and we beat Rangers after about four or five games, a big, big match that 6-2. I probably, I was delighted to have won that particular game. But I think now, the more I think about it, perhaps, maybe it was a watershed that a lot of Celtic fans thought about.
“We got confidence from winning that game, even though they beat us in November time, by which time we felt as if we could compete. We stretched it out, and won the Championship by about 20 points. That’s a massive turnaround in a season, so it can be done.
“Sometimes you maybe just have to dispel the number of points you were beaten by [the season prior]. It’s a new season, let’s get up and running and start again. That’s, I think [where] we can draw some comparisons with my first year in charge.
“Things are auguring well for Celtic. That’s never a guarantee.”
Martin O’Neill is right, but there are other Celtic parallels for Ange Postecoglou
Ange Postecoglou has had a season that feels like an odd mix of prior Celtic experiences.
There are definitely valid comparisons to Wim Jansen’s first and only season at Celtic. The Hoops had immense pressure on them, made some fantastic signings, won a League Cup and launched a new era for Celtic with a massive title win.
In terms of recruitment that season, and the timeline of how things went – especially including the derbies – there are striking resemblances.
However, if Ange Postecoglou does win a Treble, it’d be beyond doubt that Martin O’Neill is the most obvious reference point. O’Neill, as he said, had to overturn a sizeable deficit to Rangers. He did, and in some style, bringing in players fans absolutely adored.
Ange Postecoglou will be aware of these stories; of Jansen, of O’Neill, all the managers that came before.
What he’ll be keen to do though, is write his own story. Every season is extremely different, and if he ends up winning three trophies?
His name will be in history, that’s for sure.