ANGE POSTECOGLOU will mark his 50th game in charge of Celtic in the midday kick-off against Livingston in West Lothian tomorrow.
Remarkably, the Greek-Australian gaffer who arrived in Scotland in June as long-term successor to Neil Lennon has already overtaken Tony Mowbray, Lou Macari and John Barnes in terms of dug-out appearances as Hoops manager.
And he is within a couple of outings of eclipsing Wim Jansen and Josef Venglos.
It took Postecoglou only 34 matches before he landed his first piece of silverware with the Premier Sports League Cup Final triumph over Hibs at Hampden on December 19 when Kyogo Furuhashi fired in a double second-half salvo.
PRIZE GUY…Ange Postecoglou holds aloft the newly-won League Cup in December.
Now, with the side three points ahead at the Premiership pinnacle and facing a trip to Tannadice for a Scottish Cup quarter-final against Dundee United a week on Monday, the 56-year-old team chief is clearly not going to dwell on personal milestones.
Told about his impending half-century, Postecoglou smiled: “You are kidding me? I wasn’t aware, but it doesn’t surprise me. It feels like 50.
“The fact we have played 50 games already probably sums up the season it’s been so far. It’s been full on, but immensely enjoyable. I am glad I got to 50, there were probably a few people who didn’t think I would!
“I am pleased to be there. I am more than aware of my perilous existence…or that of every other manager.
“It’s not something I look at too closely. What is more important is, what have you done in those 50 games? That is more important to me than just hitting the 50-mark. Have we made progress as a team and a club in the way I want? Are we in better shape than we were? If we are ticking these boxes, then it’s a great milestone to reach.
SNOW JOKE…Ange Postecoglou enjoys his first Scottish winter during training at Lennoxtown.
“Hopefully I can get to 100 and say the same things – that we have progressed, are playing better football and getting success. I don’t take it for granted. Just look at the Premiership this year and a number of clubs changing managers.
“We are not going to be here forever, but I don’t just use years as a marker. What we have done is more important. We are going okay after 50 games, so I am happy.”
Postecoglou, speaking to The Scotsman, added: “Everything I do I assume I will be here for the next 10 years. The reality is I probably won’t be. But every decision I make and everything I do is for the long term.
“That is how I have always approached my career. I don’t worry about how long I am going to stay or lengths of contracts, I make decisions that I think will set the club up in the best possible shape for years to come.
HAIL, HAIL…Ange Postecoglou celebrates another triumph.
“I have never been one to choose the short-term approach and change my way of doing things. But I do know that, at this football club, we had to have success this year. That was clear in my mind. Being successful is still our main aim, but it was also about building a side for the medium to long term. That’s how I always work.”
Postecoglou, of course, encountered stormy seas when the club plunged out of the Champions League at the first qualifying hurdle and lost Premiership encounters at Tynecastle, Ibrox and West Lothian.
Coincidentally, he returns to Livingston and their plastic pitch tomorrow which will give the manager and his players the ideal opportunity to show how they have developed over the past six months.
It’s a challenge Postecoglou – and his team – will relish.