ANGE POSTECOGLOU admitted it was “chaotic” and “frantic” this time last year as he attempted to prepare his team for the new Premiership campaign.
The Greek-Australian had taken over as Neil Lennon’s long-term successor on June 10 and just over six weeks later he was facing his league debut against Hearts at Tynecastle.
Swedish centre-back Carl Starfelt had arrived two days earlier on a £4.2million deal from Russian giants Rubin Kazan while Japanese striker Kyogo Furuhashi had flown in from J-League club Vissel Kobe on the morning of the match after sealing his £4.6million switch.
The squad was in turmoil with Kristoffer Ajer already off to Brentford, Olivier Ntcham freed before joining Swansea while Odsonne Edouard and Ryan Christie pushed for transfers that saw them eventually move to Crystal Palace and Bournemouth respectively.
NEW MAN IN CHARGE…Ange Postecoglou at Lennoxtown for the first time in June 2021.
Thankfully, this summer’s wheelings and dealings in the market haven’t been quite as hectic as the Hoops get ready to begin the defence of their title against Aberdeen on Flag Day at Parkhead tomorrow afternoon.
Postecoglou said: “Going in as champions isn’t really something that’s in the consciousness. It’s more that we’re in a different space in terms of where we’re at as a club and a squad.
“If you wind the clock back 12 months ago, it was pretty chaotic. We were going into games with players in quarantine, and others flying in, so pre-season was pretty frantic, with Champions League qualifiers also.
“This is a different feel this year. The fact that we’re champions isn’t the biggest feeling, it’s just that we’re more settled and going into the first game there’s a different outlook.
STAR MAN…Ange Postecoglou beams brightly after Celtic sealed the Premiership title in the 1-1 draw with Dundee United at Tannadice on May 11 2022.
“We’ve been able to meticulously plan pre-season, meaning that every session and game has had certain conditions around it without having competitive fixtures as a backdrop, which gives you certainty about what you do.
“But it’s about how you use that time and prepare your players for what’s ahead. I feel we’ve had a strong pre-season from the point of view that we’ve got all the work done.
“Our games have been competitive and the performances in those have shown good progress, but that becomes irrelevant when the real stuff begins.
“The start of the season gives us a clearer understanding of the work we’ve done in preparing the team and the players we’ve brought in and how they fit into the project.”
Filipe Jota and Cameron Carter-Vickers signed permanent terms following their impressive loan stints while Argentinian left-back Alexandro Bernabei, Australian international midfielder Aaron Mooy and Swiss keeper Benji Siegrist agreed long-term contract and German central defender Moritz Jenz joined on a temporary transfer from Ligue 1 Lorient.
THE THINKER…Ange Postecoglou ponders a reply after Celtic’s 3-3 pre-season draw with Rapid Vienna in Austria.
Postecoglou, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “We’re happy with the ones we’ve brought in. There were some areas I wanted to strengthen to make us a bit more robust, so we have more options through there now.
“Signing Jota and Carter-Vickers on permanent deals was an important part of what we’re trying to build.
“I’m pleased with what we’ve done. There’s still time left in the window and we will stay active and agile to see if we can strengthen in areas.
“From my perspective, we’ve done the crucial bits we wanted to do and if there are areas we can improve on then we will.
“The new guys have slotted in well. We made sure we knew what we were getting in terms of character and personality and we were pretty confident with how they would fit in.
“They will all take a different amount of time to grasp our football and training, but from an initial introduction of being a footballer at this club, they’ve enjoyed the experience and fitted in without too many problems.”