Celtic fundamentals were just fine


By universal consent, Celtic appointed the best possible manager when Ange Postecoglou took over last summer.  Views at the time varied significantly.  Practically none of us had heard of him, some immediately took the view that he was some cheap fodder (reflecting their general world view), the best the rest of us could hope for is that he had talents we were unaware of.  The Aussies know, though.

Getting a managerial appointment right is notoriously difficult.  Today, Manchester United, the club formerly known as the richest in the world, appointed their fifth permanent manager since Alex Ferguson left nine years ago.  Two of the most successful names in the game, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho came and went without issue.  Davie Moyes, who continues to impress at West Ham, was laughed out of town within a year.

For three years until November, they were in the hands of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who achieved merit in three years at Molde, but ready for such a task?  Never.

Even when you have every agent on the planet touting their wares, when you can snap your fingers and get anyone’s ear, fitting the right person to the most important job is remarkably difficult.

After five years at Ajax, Erik ten Hag will take over at Old Trafford in June.  He enjoyed two exceptional Champions League campaigns, won two titles and leads this season.  He also lost home and away to Rosenborg in the Europa League qualifiers after Celtic eliminated Rosenborg from the Champions League.

I put his chances of success in Manchester at no more than 25%.  If the fundamentals of a football club are right, it will recover from setbacks, it not, all it can do it apply lipstick to some bacon.  For all our season of angst, Celtic’s fundamentals were just fine.  The evidence can be found on the pitch and by consulting the league table.

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  1. “If the fundamentals of a football club are right, it will recover from setbacks, it not, all it can do it apply lipstick to some bacon.”



    Mmmmm wonder who that could apply to also ?

  2. Pingback: Celtic fundamentals were just fine | Celtic FC News Now

  3. SAINT STIVS on 21ST APRIL 2022 12:12 PM


    The Barras c1900
















    BOGNORBHOY on 21ST APRIL 2022 12:16 PM


    new article up







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    Your Comment








    bognorbhoy on VAR will impact Celtic more than any club in world football


    Big Georges Fan Club – Hail, Hail, Wee Oscar on VAR will impact Celtic more than any club in world football


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    Saint Stivs on VAR will impact Celtic more than any club in world football


    bognorbhoy on Celtic fundamentals were just fine



  4. Overall, Ange is doing an exceptional job.


    Of course we will get angry, feel down, when we lose in Europe or Scotland, but that was and will always be the case.


    Look at what he inherited !! a team bereft of direction, ability and in many cases, pride.


    I would not have expected us to be where we are now, not even with a “big name” manager.


    He is still building, we are well ahead of schedule


    We are in a good place.


    As we go into the final lap I think back on the Green Brigades banner at the beginning of last season.


    “Don’t Fall Asleep At The Wheel”

  5. I’d like our fundamentals to call out referee bias .



    We’ve stayed silent on LNS , Res12 , and supposedly never seen the secret 5 way agreement???



    The next time we win , when being kicked off the park , can we please call it out ?



    Fundamentals CSC

  6. As i posted on Monday, the best time to complain about referees,is after you have won,it carries much more relevance IMO

  7. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Sorry, but the fundamentals are just not there. The big cheese made that clear in his “interview”. Picking five names out of thin air? With no particular philosophy? That’s how you end up going from Brendan Rodgers to Neil Lennon.


    Contrast Man Utd with Liverpool. Five managers all with different identities. Recruitment (unsurprisingly) has been all over the place because they all want a different style of play.


    Liverpool clear identity, hardly a single poor signing.


    The picking-a-name approach should be consigned to the past and we should have people who have expertise making the appointments.

  8. The Battered Bunnet on

    Celtic’s results are fundamentally tied to our success in appointing the 1st team manager. If you run from MON to WGS to BTM, whatever ‘fundamentals’ were in place for MON and WGS appear to have evaporated for BTM.



    Then run NFL, RD, BR and NFL again. What’s the pattern? Lenny first time round gave us Van Dijk, Wanyama, Forster, Hooper, Matthews, Ledley, etc



    Rony Deila came in and the team that gave us the stars above suddenly thought Inge-Berget, Cole, Ciftci, Janko, Tonev etc fitted the same bill.



    Lenny second time around gave us Barkas, Boli, Ajeti, Laxalt, Kenny and Duffy amongst others. Presumably these signings were scouted by the same team that gave us Kouassi, Hendry, Klimala, Perez et al the previous year.



    Now we have have big Ange whose transfer hit rate is remarkable. Hart, Carter-Vickers, Jota, Kyogo, Hatate, Giakoumakis etc.



    Where is the consistency of performance – the fundamentals – of the scouting and recruitment department? There isn’t any – consistency that is.



    In all of it the one recurring theme is that our results turn on our 1st team manager appointments and his subsequent eye for a footballer. Isn’t that why Man Utd are failing to live up to expectations.

  9. The Battered Bunnet on

    I see Glasstwothirdsfull read my mind and wrote my post with considerably more concision.

  10. Football management is a very fickle business. Our fans’ media were pushing for Ralf Rangnick to be our new boss. Yet this guru of gurus hasn’t done much to change the fortunes of Manchester United. We were also encouraged to buy into the director of football model. Yet, we end up with a guy who’s, in some ways, more of an old fashioned do it all model and he’s been brilliant. I’d love to see Ange stay here for a very long time. If we can go some way to matching his ambition, I think he would.

  11. There are two fundamentals that drive Celtic. The most important one is to live within its means. Sometimes when those means are more substantial, e.g. when CL monies occasionally ‘drop in’, our means are greater and life is easier.



    The second fundamental is to stay one step ahead of the Ibrox club. This will keep the vast majority of supporters ‘on board’, and makes it easier to balance the books.



    The cost of raw materials, i.e. players, is constantly rising, inflated by the money clubs like Man Utd have to spend and drives down the quality available & affordable to Celtic. This has seemingly fundamentally impacted our ability to make any real progress in European competition for eighteen years.



    The conundrum is how can the Ibrox brand with all the ‘stuff’ hanging from its coat-tails, and whom we have dominated for almost ten years, make steady progress in Europe over the last three years culminating in reaching the semi-final of the Europa League this season?



    Is it because it has different fundamentals to us? Do our fundamentals need to change? If so, what to?

  12. ZIGGYDOC1 on 21ST APRIL 2022 1:08 PM


    “I’d love to see Ange stay here for a very long time. If we can go some way to matching his ambition, I think he would.”



    That’s the challenge there in a nutshell. por cierto

  13. Paul, we were in such good shape that we ended last season with 4 loan players as part of the squad and 4 others who we knew were leaving.we don’t have a head of recruitment.


    Ange does that and our academy is a shambles.



    As far as whether Ange is going to be a longterm success. The jury is still out , in my opinion.

  14. The jury is “still out” on any manager/coach in his 1st season at any club. That’s why, with Ange, we have to give time, time! por cierto

  15. I’m not sure our fundamentals are right, otherwise how did we end up appointing Neil Lennon as permanent manager after Rodgers ?



    Ange has worked out but perhaps we just got lucky ?

  16. In this wee part of the planet we only need to be a bit more consistent than the club over the river, to win the league. We can be fundamentally bang average but if our only serious rival for the title is even less than bang average then Celtic win the league. And that has been the case since Alex Ferguson swapped the red of Aberdeen for the red of Manchester.



    It took Liverpool 30 years to regain pole position, and that was only for a single season. It could take Man Utd just as long. Competition in the EPL is brutal, but a great watch for someone like myself who doesn’t care who wins it.



    It’s just as well that Celtic’s fundamentals are, apparently, just fine. And praise the Lord that Saint Peter of Thorntonhall insisted that the name Angelos Postecoglou was on the list of the final five. Being able to pronounce the guy’s name is not initially fundamental, Mr Desmond. Ange will do fine.

  17. Paul 67,



    Our fundamentals are good today.



    They were not so good when we had protests outside the ground, a legendary figure as manager who could not see his time eas up, players downing tools and CEO upheaval.



    We weathered the storm due to prior prudence. We had the cash flow for a rainy day.



    By luck or judgement we have a manager who has taken the bull by the horns and acted swiftly. He has also taken our vast support on his journey.



    However, we don’t stop. We cannot afford to.



    Our stadium is vast, aging and needs a face-lift, our quest to retain and attract quality value for money players continues.



    Basically we are a well run club, however to justify a healthy fundamentals tag we need a much, much better return from our Lennoxtown investment.




  18. Paul67



    The fundamentals are there for a team that flopped in the conference league, and in which some supporters didn’t even see merit in competing.



    The CL beckons, but will Celtic spend to enhance the squad and filter its often found wanting jersey fillers.



    Watch this space CSC



    P.s how’s brokenbottlegate going?

  19. Re: var



    Like others on here I am not in favour of a Scottish implementation of VAR. Terrifies me in fact. We’ll now have a few extra ludge members to be up against in each game. Those marginals decisions…. not for me at least not with Scottish ex-refs on the screen.



    HH all from a Louisville beginning it’s Derby countdown.

  20. Interesting points about staying just ahead of our rivals as a strategy.



    Liverpool have spent less than Man Utd and and Everton over the last few years which could be seen as lack of ambition but are always streets ahead of Everton and apart from a blip last season, always ahead of Man U.


    They also won the league and CL and were a baw hair from doing it the previous year.



    The culture of Klopp has been extremely cost effective vs local and Continental rivals.


    If they had spent a bit more, they may have won a lot more in the last few years but their fans don’t seem to mind.


    Man U fans are in uproar despite being Europe’s biggest spenders. Can hassle the board for lack of cash , just bad decisions



    No matter what happens in the next few weeks, i think Ange will look to bring in another 4 or 5 players in the summer.



    In terms of trading out; no big cash injection is obvious



    Take a loss on: Barkas, Ajeti, Bolingoli, possibly Julienn. Will generate cash though



    Break even on: Soro, some cash



    Let go wages on : Henderson, Connel, Shaw, McInroy, Afolabi



    Big decision for the board on how much is in the budget.



    This season is very reminiscent so far of 97/98 with a new unknown manager arriving after our stars left; bought well; won the LC



    To fully mirror; we win the league and the manger walks. We need to get back on form to win the league and we need to back Ange to avoid the latter

  21. Weebobbycollins on

    Apart from the members of the ludge monitoring the VAR screens, what concerns me more is the idea of having a goal chalked off after our celebrations. Presently, we score, a quick look at the relevant linesman to see if the flag is up, if not we celebrate. Simple! However, it won’t be that simple for much longer. There will be times when we will stop celebrating and wait two, three, four, five or more minutes before any goal confirmation or not, as is the case. That takes away from the spontaneity of goal celebration and indeed the excitement. Not for old school me!

  22. We dithered too long, however it looks like our fundamental instinct to attract Eddie Howe was sound.




  23. quadrophenian on

    Yes Paulo; ‘The Aussies know, though.’ And we tellt yeez from the get-go.



    As for our fundamentals being right, that still doesn’t preclude us from falling foul of fuggups now and then.


    Even tho our fundamentals seem sound sound, specific instances [coaching schisms, Dubai decisions, Bolibonkgate, wantaway down toolers etc] can cause a a sore one for any team.



    Mibby PL’s City Group links and grapevine first alerted our suits that Ange was a good ‘un.



    So far, so good.



  24. quadrophenian on

    By the way; just watched a cracking 3-part documentary on YT about the Columbus Crew fitba club.



    From 1st ever MLS franchise to near extinction at hands of corporate raider to a fan resurrection and a surprise ending – great story of a ‘soccer’ Tsunami – all three episodes on youtube ‘The Battle For Columbus’ worth a watch for sheer fan power factor.




  25. https://theathletic.com/3255918/2022/04/20/high-intensity-all-the-time-how-mcelhone-and-his-reconditioning-expertise-are-changing-celtic-for-the-better/?source=user_shared_article



    Have your teabreak.The contribution from our backroom team



    When speaking to sources close to the first team about Ange Postecoglou’s impact, they have been at pains to stress the progress so far this season, Europe and Scottish Cup disappointments aside, has been a collective effort. Everyone asserts that backroom staff have played a significant role in how things have turned around from last season’s disastrous title defence.



    One name that keeps cropping up is Anton McElhone, who was appointed as the club’s head of sport science in September after Jack Nayler was headhunted by the Red Bull group. McElhone was appointed at a time of crisis, when a different Celtic player, or even two of them, seemed to pick up a muscle injury every game.



    Postecoglou was introducing an intense style of football underpinned by rigorous training sessions, with a thin squad and, initially, without someone leading their sport science department. Postecoglou, his players, and his coaching staff eventually navigated the predicament well, with just four points dropped between the end of September and the winter break.



    There have also been significantly fewer injuries since. Key January signings helped ease the burden and players’ bodies have become more accustomed to Postecoglou’s methods. McElhone has also been important to this development, especially with his specific expertise in helping players recover from injuries — he has worked with Kyogo Furuhashi during the Japanese striker’s gradual return from the muscle problem that kept him out for three months.



    McElhone believes in the benefits of marginal gains, like the introduction of turmeric into players’ diets because its chemical properties help muscle recovery, a policy that was perhaps maligned at the time because it looked like a negligible change given the volume of injuries Celtic were suffering.



    Much attention is paid to players’ nutrition, body-fat ratio and muscle mass. Individual programmes have been created. Matt O’Riley, for example, on his first day was sat down by the sport science team who presented to him various programmes they could start him on so he could improve his strength and fitness to varying degrees. Players appreciate how passionate and engaged McElhone is in his role.



    Matt O’Riley, Celtic


    O’Riley was given a personalised regime when he arrived (Photo: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)


    McElhone shares Postecoglou’s belief in intensity in training. Although fitness sessions were hard at the start of Postecoglou’s reign, they have become even more demanding with McElhone’s influence, with intensity dialled up in single-game matchweeks to compensate for the relative lack of action.



    McElhone began his coaching career at Queen’s Park around 2002, where he had been an under-19s player. Tommy Wilson — currently the director of academy and professional development at MLS club Philadelphia Union, and formerly head of youth development at the SFA and Rangers reserve team manager — spotted McElhone’s keen footballing brain.



    Although McElhone has mostly worked in fitness and conditioning, players tended to appreciate his footballing background and affable nature.



    Anthony O’Connor, the Irish defender who shared a season with McElhone at Bradford City when McElhone was manager David Hopkin’s assistant, tells The Athletic: “He knew the game. We didn’t just see him as a fitness guy — we respected him as someone who knew football, who had a playing background himself, and having been all over at big clubs. He was just a good guy in general too. I often had a few chats with him about non-football stuff when we were in hotels when playing away from home or whatever. Just a really nice guy.”



    McElhone moved to Hibernian’s academy in 2004, recruited by Tony Mowbray and John Park who had been impressed by his work at Queen’s Park. For three years he was involved with coaching that exciting mid-2000s generation of Hibs academy players including Scott Brown and Steven Fletcher. While at Hibs, he studied for a Master’s degree in strength and conditioning at Edinburgh University, and he moved to Tottenham in 2007 as a fitness and conditioning coach, initially in the academy before his promotion to the first-team in 2011.



    His specific area of expertise within sport science is “reconditioning”, which effectively means rebuilding to peak performance the fitness levels, muscle mass and body-fat ratio of players who are returning from injury, or have lost fitness. At Tottenham he organised the first-team’s reconditioning programmes as delegated by first Harry Redknapp, then Andre Villas-Boas, Tim Sherwood, and ultimately Mauricio Pochettino.




    O’Connor (centre) says McElhone ran intense sessions at Bradford (Picture: MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)


    This translated into his post-Spurs career, with O’Connor highlighting how successful McElhone’s specific work at Bradford was, despite them being relegated from League One that season. “He did a lot of stuff with players who weren’t playing as much, and players who were coming back from injury,” he says. “The bulk-up sessions, the fitness sessions, he took players who weren’t playing as much and he was having input on where he thinks they should be fitness-wise. He was having a say on the football side of things as well, but the biggest thing was how much he improved the fitness levels.”



    McElhone was kept on within Pochettino’s sport science team after the Argentine’s arrival from Southampton in 2014, with that group credited with some of the most cutting-edge methodologies and practices in their field. This included taking saliva tests every morning to check players’ fatigue, muscle damage and hormone response.



    McElhone savoured the experience. “I always aspire to be the best and work with the best players so the opportunity to go to Tottenham Hotspur was a great experience for me,” McElhone told World Football Index last year. “It took me to the next level in terms of developing my knowledge and experience of fitness and coaching.



    “Every member of staff at Tottenham had expertise within their field and we had access to the best of facilities too. Those aspects of a club are vital to develop players and coaches to the highest level. Putting on the best sessions is what you strive to do as a coach, but everyone has to work together to ensure that every player can access the best footballing education within a club.”



    McElhone has harboured ambitions beyond just fitness, strength and conditioning coaching, however. He received his UEFA A licence in 2015 and parted ways with Tottenham after a decade in 2017 to join former Spurs goalkeeper Brad Friedel’s New England Revolution in the MLS as assistant manager, but that was a project that did not pan out for either him or Friedel and he returned to the UK after less than a year.



    When Hopkin became Bradford’s manager in September 2018, McElhone joined him as his assistant. “What struck me straight away was how dedicated he was; he loved his work,” O’Connor recalls. “We could see that every day on the training pitch. From the first day he came into Bradford he was trying to make us fitter, trying to make us stronger.”



    McElhone’s remit at Bradford was generally part fitness and conditioning coach and part assistant manager — as it was at New England — which meant he organised training sessions, pre-match warm-ups and cooldowns, as well as traditional fitness programmes. “He was quite skilled and pedantic — he wanted everything done to a tee,” O’Connor continues. “So he was pretty hands-on with warm-ups and cool-downs. If we had no midweek game we would have a really hard day midweek on a Tuesday to drill hard fitness work into us as a group.



    “Even on match day, sometimes the training midweek and the warm-up was even harder than the game. He had us ready to go, so when the game came around it wasn’t as hard because we were used to it. He always wanted intensity. That’s probably the thing that I remember most about Anton: the intensity was really high all the time.”



    There was one drill notorious among Bradford players that McElhone has organised across his various clubs, with Pochettino and his staff particular devotees. The “Gacon run” was devised by French professor George Gacon, formerly the fitness coach at PSG and Marseille as well as the French national team manager for middle-distance runners in the 1980s and 1990s.



    It involves 45 seconds of running before 15 seconds of rest, but the running distance — and therefore speed required — gradually increases by 6.5 metres after every round. If cones are used to create a 125-metre lap initially, then the following round that distance is increased to 131.5 metres.



    “(McElhone) used to love it and all the boys hated because it was the hardest run you could possibly do,” O’Connor says. “But it was tough love. You can’t complain when someone’s there to improve you. It was really, really hard at times and as players we moan about how tough it can be, but ultimately he was there to make us fitter, which he did.”



    Despite their improved fitness levels, Bradford struggled for results and performances under Hopkin and McElhone, and they left the club in February 2019. They then spent just over a season at Greenock Morton together before Hopkin resigned in December 2020, and McElhone took over as interim for three months. It was his first managerial job, albeit temporary, and Morton won three of their 13 games under him. After Gus McPherson was appointed in March, McElhone left Morton and six months later returned to a sport science-centric role at Celtic.



    McElhone is enjoying his job at Celtic and relishes putting together his own fitness and conditioning programmes as informed by his wealth of experience in the game.



    He is well-respected by staff and players — though perhaps it would be wise not to ask a squad’s views immediately after one of those intense sessions.



    Long informative read




  26. The Battered Bunnet



    I don’t think Saidy Janko deserves to be in the comapny into which you have put him. Saidy has had a good solid career na dcould have succeeded here. I agree about the other 4 mentioned. ( Ciftci , in particular, is still making monkeys out of the manager who bought him).

  27. I read that we have spent close to 30ml on players, that’s a lot for the SPL and some figure the rebuild is not done.



    If we can’t win 3 out of 5 then we don’t deserve to win the league.



    Liverpool has got there recruitment right.that’s the big difference………not throwing money down the drain.



    Sunday is huge no excuses.

  28. Yes, Liverpool’s recruitment department, together with having a top manager, is the main factor in their success. I remember reading an article about it, where it was said that they monitor potential targets for a long time before signing them, looking at every aspect of the player’s performances. They watched Andy Robinson for two years, for instance.

  29. CONEYBHOY @ 2:17




    Lots of info & good points. Crazy to think that Everton are in the top ten NET spenders in Europe over the last ten years. Klopp spending/recruitment has been great, but why did he ‘steal’ the Preston centre-back from us & never play him?

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