ANGE POSTECOGLOU has admitted the responsibility of getting his recruitment absolutely spot on “keeps me up at night!”
The Celtic boss has proved to have the Midas touch in the competitive transfer market and could have a coveted treble to prove it in his second crusade after the Scottish Cup Final against Inverness Caley Thistle on Saturday June 3.
Postecoglou faced a massive rebuild at Parkhead when he arrived as Neil Lennon’s replacement in June 2021. The team had just completed their first trophyless season in 11 years and had blown the chance of making history in their quest for the tenth successive title.
WIDE AWAKE…Ange Postecoglou hasn’t been caught napping in his transfer deals.
The European adventure was disastrous, Ross County knocked the holders out of the League Cup in Glasgow and the interest in the Scottish Cup ended at the quarter-final stage at Ibrox.
On top of that, players were queuing to leave with Odsonne Edouard, Kristoffer Ajer and Ryan Christie, three of the Hoops stars who had fallen way below expected standards during a wretched term, among the first to move in the summer transfer window.
Loanees Shane Duffy (Brighton), Diego Laxalt (AC Milan), Jonjoe Kenny (Everton) and Mohamed Elyounoussi (Southampton) returned to their parent clubs.
And Postecoglou also inherited the problem over the previous summer’s big buys, goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas and striker Albian Ajeti, who were brought in at a joint cost of £9.5million.
Both had failed lamentably to produce at Parkhead and the Greek international netminder made only two appearances for the new boss while the former West Ham forward dropped off the radar after only three goals in the opening couple of months.
Unsurprisingly, both were shifted on loan deals before the start of the current term and clearly neither has a future with the champions.
Postecoglou hit the ground running to bring in Liel Abada, Carl Starfelt and Kyogo Furuhashi and they were joined in his first transfer window with the likes of Joe Hart, Josip Juranovic and Giorgos Giakoumakis.
ACCLAIM…Filipe Jota celebrates his Scottish Cup semi-final Hampden matchwinner.
Cameron Carter-Vickers and Filipe Jota both arrived on temporary deals from Spurs and Benfica respectively and those moves were made permanent after an impressive first year and the club splashed £12.5million on the key acquisitions.
Postecoglou cited the board’s willingness to part with that level of money for the central defender and the Portuguese flyer as proof that everyone at the club is pulling in the same direction.
The 57-year-old Greek-Australian gaffer said: “Those two signings were pretty critical. To be fair, the club backed me on that one.
“They were significant outlays for a club our size. We tried before we bought! So, we knew what we were getting. And, more importantly for me, I knew that they would be better.
“What we saw of them last year, I knew they would be better because they are at that age. It wasn’t just about spending the money to get players back who did well for us last year. I knew that they could be better this year and they have been tremendous assets for us.
“It’s not arm-twisting, but it does require trust and faith on both sides. The club needs to sort of trust my judgement in that and I need to trust the club is going to make the right decision.
“It isn’t limitless in what we can spend. And I knew that those were going to be our two major acquisitions and we weren’t going to have a lot of money outside of that to spend.
HIGH AND MIGHTY…Cameron Carter-Vickers heads clear during Sunday’s 1-0 triumph – but, alas, it will be the central defender’s last outing this season.
“But I thought we were getting two very good footballers who would make us better than last year. Everyone was aligned with that.”
Postecoglou, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “It’s not foolproof, we all make mistakes, but for the most part we have been very successful in identifying the right kind of people to our football club. For me, that is all a manager can ask for, that support. And I’ve had that.
”With that comes great responsibility. It keeps me up at night! I don’t want to get things wrong because when you take that responsibility on to yourself you need to make sure you are always doing the right thing by the football club. That is what I have tried to do.
“We have made enormous progress in the last 20-odd months, it is incredible to see where we have come from and where we are now.
“We haven’t done the job yet, but we have an opportunity in the next month to do something special. When people reflect on what has happened in the last two years, they will truly understand what a fantastic and enormous effort it has been from everyone.”
GREEN FOR GO…the players are greeted at Hampden with a spectacuar pyro display from the Celtic support.
Postecoglou admitted the recruitment process for the summer transfer window has already begun and insisted the focus hasn’t wavered.
He added: “It has to be. We try to come out of every window stronger than when we went into it and I think we have done that from the first window I had, to last January, to last summer, to this January.
“Every window, you can see we are making strides and we will do the same in the next window to make sure we come out of it stronger than we were when we went in.
“To me, that is the only way you can measure what you are doing, by progress. Twelve months after last year’s semi-final, are we a better side than we were last year? Absolutely.
“And we need to be a better side in 12 months’ time if we want to be in this kind of position to challenge for honours. If we stay where we are right now there is every chance that someone might overtake us.
“We constantly have to be looking to improve. And to do that you can’t settle where you are.”