ANGE POSTECOGLOU displays the same outlook and passion that made Sir Alex Ferguson so special.
That’s the view of former Celtic goal hero Charlie Nicholas who reckons there are similarities between the two no-nonsense managers who were driven to success with their relentless will-to-win attitude.
Glaswegian Ferguson won eight major honours at Aberdeen – including the 1983 European Cup-Winners’ Cup – before moving to a struggling Manchester United in 1986. He rode out the initial storm to claim a phenomenal 24 trophies, including two Champions League triumphs.
Athens-born Postecoglou won titles in Australia and Japan, bossed his adopted nation to the 2014 World Cup Finals and lifted the Premiership title and League Cup in his debut campaign at Parkhead after inheriting a shambles.
TWO OF A KIND…Ange Postecoglou and Sir Alex Ferguson enjoy successes at Celtic and Manchester United.
The 57-year-old gaffer has already claimed another League Cup, has the team sitting at the league summit with a nine-point advantage and will play Michael Beale’s Ibrox outfit in the Scottish Cup semi-final next month.
During his days at Old Trafford, Sir Alex, now 81, didn’t hesitate to empty the dressing room of players when he thought they should be elsewhere and the likes of Roy Keane, Paul Ince, Jaap Stam and Mark Hughes were moved on when he deemed the time was right.
Similarly, Postecoglou sold Josip Juranovic and Giorgos Giakoumakis after they refused enhanced contracts and brought in replacements Alistair Johnston and Oh Hyeon-gyu during the January transfer window.
Nicholas said: “Ange Postecoglou is similar to Sir Alex Ferguson in so many ways. Like the legendary former Manchester United and Aberdeen manager, Postecoglou is a relentless winner and possesses incredible motivational qualities.
Mr MOTIVATOR…Ange Postecoglou in celebratory mode.
“Another similar characteristic is that the Aussie doesn’t care if any of his players want to leave. We saw how unconcerned he was when Josip Juranovic and Giorgos Giakoumakis made it clear they weren’t happy with their situations at Celtic.
“At the first signs of discontent, Postecoglou immediately set the wheels in motion to sign their replacements – Alistair Johnston and Oh Hyeon-gyu – and it was goodbye Juranovic and Giakoumakis.
“You never really hear the Parkhead manager overpraise his players. He just gets on with the job and looks ahead to the next challenge.”
Nicholas, writing in his Daily Express column, added: “That attitude reminds me of Ferguson, whose hard-to-please reputation was summed up by his comments live on TV moments after his Aberdeen side had secured Scottish Cup glory in 1983 with a 1-0 win against Rangers.
“‘We’re the luckiest team in the world,’ he fumed. ‘We were a disgrace of a performance. [Willie] Miller and [Alex] McLeish won the Cup for Aberdeen. Our standards have been set long ago and we’re not going to accept that from any Aberdeen team.’
ONE OF THE BHOYS…Ange Postecoglou celebrates with his victorious Celtic players following the 2-1 League Cup triumph at Hampden last month.
“Postecoglou is a modern-day version of Ferguson. He treats them mean to keep them keen. We already know he doesn’t speak to his Celtic players a lot.
“He talks to them individually on the training pitch, not really off it.”
But the message is clearly getting through to the team with a 27-game unbeaten domestic sequence since the 2-0 lapse against St Mirren in Paisley in September.
The champions face their third test from Edinburgh in succession when Hibs visit Parkhead on Saturday afternoon.
Their city neighbours, Hearts, have just suffered back-to-back defeats – 3-1 in the league and 3-0 in the Scottish Cup.
There could be capital punishment coming the way of the Easter Road side who lost 6-1 at the same venue in October.