CELTIC legend John ‘Yogi’ Hughes insists Ange Postecoglou MUST win the Scottish Manager of the Year award.
The Hoops goalscoring hero, the seventh-highest marksman in club history with 189 strikes, believes there has to be a steward’s enquiry if the Greek-Australian does not walk away with the honour at the end of his debut campaign.
In ANOTHER CQN EXCLUSIVE, the Parkhead icon speaks to author and friend Alex Gordon, who co-wrote the ex-player’s autobiography, ‘Yogi Bare: The Life and Times of a Celtic Legend,’ as he emphasises why the award must go to Postecoglou.
Big Yogi is a firm fan of the 56-year-old gaffer and said: “No-one knew what to expect from the new manager when he was appointed in June.
“Let’s face it, he had never competed in Europe with his career spent in Australia and Japan. He might as well have been operating on the moon for all the football knowledge most people have from that corner of the globe.
READ ALL ABOUT IT…Celtic legend John Hughes with his best-selling autobiography.
“The club had wasted three months in their pursuit of Eddie Howe and it was down to Peter Lawwell, in his last act as chief executive, that Celtic turned to Big Ange. Thank goodness Peter hadn’t left earlier.
“Let’s face it, though, it didn’t matter who was coming in, he was inheriting an absolute shambles.
“The previous season had been an embarrassing write-off and we’ll probably never know exactly why the team fell from grace in such a spectacular fashion.
“Everything looked set up for a historic tenth successive title, but the side dropped points in the second game – a 1-1 draw at Kilmarnock – and never regained pole position.
“The alarm bells were ringing loud and clear and the performance in the first derby of the campaign against the Ibrox side at our place cemented the fact that all was not well.
CROWNING GLORY…a determined Ange Postecoglou celebrates after the weekend win in Dingwall that edged Celtic closer to the title.
“Okay, Celtic missed fans possibly more than other teams, but the display that afternoon was utterly unacceptable. We didn’t have a solitary effort on target and we lost 2-0 with their central defender, Connor Goldson, scoring both goals. Unbelievable!
“We limped through the obstacle course of a dreadful campaign, losing all over the place at home and Europe. Inevitably, Neil Lennon paid the ultimate price with his job in February only a couple of days after another dismal defeat, this time to Ross County in Dingwall.
“It was a loss too far against the Highlanders who had come to Glasgow in November and knocked Celtic out of the League Cup.
“And so it went on until we were put out of our misery with a tepid goalless draw against Hibs at Easter Road. That left the team a nonsensical TWENTY-FIVE points adrift of the Ibrox club.”
Hughes continued: “So, it was carnage in the east end of Glasgow by the time Big Ange pitched up. Remember, too, he was on his own without an army of assistants.
“That took a lot of bottle. He was accepting guys such as John Kennedy and Gavin Strachan who had worked with Lenny and had also endured a season from hell.
HAIL HAIL…Kyogo Furuhashi raises his arms in triumph after his 17th goal of the season.
“He didn’t have a lot of time to get them round to his way of thinking. Plus he had to deal with replacing the club captain, Scott Brown, who had left at the end of his contract for Aberdeen, and his top scorer, Odsonne Edouard, was also on his way.
“Others such as Kristoffer Ajer, Ryan Christie and Olivier Ntcham were leaving, so it really was a rebuilding job of monumental proportions.
“Big Ange just rolled up his sleeves and got on with it. Players were being introduced from all over the place, replacements a lot of folk had never heard of. There were the likes of Liel Abada from Israel, Carl Starfelt from Russia, Filipe Jota from Portugal, Josip Juranovic from Poland, Giorgos Giakoumakis from Holland and, of course, a certain Kyogo Furuhashi from Japan.
“I’ve supported Celtic all my life and I have never witnessed an upheaval like it.
HOOP HOOP HOORAY…Filipe Jota races away in delight after scoring the first of his two goals in the 3-2 win over Aberdeen at Pittodrie in February.
“People were talking about two or three years before Celtic would be in any shape to again challenge for the title.
“However, one guy disagreed with them – and that was a bloke called Ange Postecoglou. I read in CQN last year about him saying you don’t get three years at a club like Celtic to deliver silverware. He was actually putting awesome pressure on himself by going on record with those words.
“I have to say I genuinely admire the man’s style. Clearly, he knows what he is doing. He would have done his homework before arriving on these shores.
“Big Ange had a fair idea of what to expect. He refused to be knocked out of his stride early in his career. Dumped from the Champions League in the opening qualifying round and beaten three times in the first six league games, he could have withdrawn and attempted to play it safe.
“However, he never wavered. He stuck to his principles when others may have surrendered to consolidate. Obviously, he wasn’t singing from that hymn sheet.”
PRIZE GUY…Ange Postecoglou smiles as he holds the newly-won League Cup following the 2-1 Hampden success over Hibs in December.
Hughes, who celebrated his 79th birthday earlier this month, added: “Now look where we are today. The transformation has been truly remarkable.
“The League Cup was delivered six days before Christmas and Celtic are sitting top of the Premiership with a six-point advantage with four games to play.
“And we can stretch that to nine with three to go at Parkhead on Sunday. I’m convinced we will win and just about seal an extraordinary championship triumph.
“That’s all down to Big Ange. He gets all the credit, make no mistake about that. The honour is his.
“I also read some of his words of wisdom in CQN at the weekend when he talked up the qualities of Malky Mackay, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Robbie Neilson and David Martindale as contenders for Manager of the Year.
HIGHLAND FLING…Ange Postecoglou reflects on the weekend win in Dingwall.
“Postecoglou is obviously an exceedingly modest chap, but I have to take this opportunity to ask: ‘Who are you kidding, Ange?’
“The award must already have his name engraved on it. There can be absolutely no argument, no debate whatsoever.
“The other guys have done well, Malky at Ross County, in particular, but Ange Postecoglou is a stick-on for that title.
“Just as my old club are for the Premiership crown in a phenomenal and enjoyable season.
“Thank you, Ange.”
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