The challenges facing Celtic 'favourite' Ange Postecoglou
So, as if from nowhere, Australian manager Ange Postecoglou became the favourite to take the Celtic job.
Honestly, from a Scottish, or even Euro-centric point of view, there’s not a lot we know about the Yokohama F Marinos boss. We can gather that he may be well known to Fergal Harkin. The favourite for the Director of Football job may have had a say here, with both men tied to the City Football Group.
We do know he was the Australia boss, and that he’s won domestic titles in his native land, as well as in Japan. In fact, he ended a 15-year title drought for the side in December 2019 [ABC]. Fine, he’s a largely unknown quantity to European audiences, but that’s not to say he isn’t a good coach.
While he did take in 2 games in Greece back in 2008, in terms of mainland Europe, the veteran manager is somewhat of a rookie.
However, he does face certain challenges from the off, should Celtic actually land their man. So, what’s first in Postecoglou’s inbox should he land in Glasgow?
Winning over skeptical media and Celtic supporters
Provided Postecoglou takes over at Celtic, he’ll have been Googled to death. Let’s face it; although this website has readers in Australia, the vast majority of us, myself included, may only know Postecoglou from his time at World Cup 2014.
There are shades of Arsene Wenger, here. Now, I’m not suggesting Postecoglou is going to be Celtic manager for a generation, or sign us the next Thierry Henry. But coming from the J-League, a league largely unavailable to Scottish viewers, there’ll already be people asking “who’s this guy?” and suggesting he won’t be able to cut it in our league, let alone Europe.
That isn’t really based on anything, though. Cynicism is entirely appropriate, rational even. However, writing him off before he’s even taken a training session – provided he signs for Celtic – is a little dramatic. So, his first task will be coming across well to the ruthless Scottish media, and to supporters, who’ve been stung by Eddie Howe’s dramatic U-Turn.
It’s easier said than done. If he has any anecdotes about Danny McGrain, that might help [Celtic FC].
Ange Postecoglou and his second major challenge: the dressing room
Tom Rogic will be able to help here. The Socceroo international will know Postecoglou very well. The rest of the dressing room, though, may need some convincing.
That would’ve been true of Wim Jansen or Ronny Deila, though, just for two examples. Fine, Jansen had a more impressive record in coaching, but pre-social media and (decent) internet, he would’ve been a mystery name to so many supporters. Deila, meanwhile, had the benefit of the modern era’s indulgences. You could watch clips of his sides, and as players, see yourself (or not) fitting into a style of play.
You’ve got to imagine footballers are pretty clued-up, though. This is their industry, after all. Certainly, they’ll have agents who are at least aware of Postecoglou.
Inspiring a bunch of lads who failed to deliver what was expected last season will be a challenge. And for Postecoglou, this’ll be a brand new environment, albeit one with a common language. His first meeting with the players ahead of pre-season will be absolutely crucial.
Ange Postecoglou: will need to have some transfer ideas
Depending on your perspective, the Celtic squad either needs a total overhaul, or 6-7 key pieces to work around. Either way, it’s a considerable challenge.
What we don’t know about Postecoglou’s history in scouting and recruitment could fill Paradise several times over. However, he’s built high-calibre, title-winning sides before. He wouldn’t be linked to the Celtic job at all if he didn’t have some kind of pedigree, and much of that depends on building and maintaining quality squads.
The guy took Brisbane Roar to a 36-game unbeaten run in 2011, beating a record set 74 years prior [Sunday Morning Herald]. To do that, you have to be able to bring in some quality players, and fit them seamlessly into a tactical style. He’s also not afraid to be ruthless, having released big names like Harry Kewell, and to a lesser extent, Bob Malcolm and Craig Moore.
He’ll need to adapt very quickly to Celtic’s budgets, but the guy has a track record in the transfer market wherever he’s been. This job would represent a huge cultural change, of course, but football’s actually quite simple and transferable. That’s why a manager working in Japan could well be a success over here.